Commercial List adjourns all non-urgent matters in light of COVID-19
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commercial List Users’ Committee has announced that it will be adjourning all scheduled regular matters to after June 1, subject to certain exceptions and subject to further direction from the court.
Exceptions include matters that are urgent, time-sensitive or resulting in immediate and significant financial consequences. The Commercial List judges have the discretion to decide whether a matter falls within these exceptions, and will then hear and decide it using technologies such as teleconferencing and email.
Matters that will likely be considered in need of urgent hearing include the following:
- Initial orders under the CCAA
- CCAA stay extensions
- Receivership applications
- Plans of arrangements
- Approval and vesting orders
- Urgent bankruptcy applications
Counsel seeking for their matters to be urgently heard should email the Commercial List office at Toronto.firstname.lastname@example.org to explain why their matter is urgent, time sensitive or resulting in immediate and significant financial consequence, and to state an estimated time for the hearing. The office will remain operative to deal with scheduling issues.
Once a matter has been declared to require an urgent hearing, the parties will email the judge with the necessary materials, copying the Commercial List office in the email. The hearing will then be conducted via teleconference.
The Law Society of Ontario has also issued a statement indicating that all its employees will be working from home through April 3, at least. As a result of COVID-19, and until further notice, the Law Society will interpret the requirement in section 9 of the Commissioners for Taking Affidavits Act that “every oath and declaration shall be taken by the deponent in the presence of the commissioner or notary public” as not requiring the lawyer or paralegal to be in the physical presence of the client.
Rather, alternative means of commissioning, such as via video conference, will be permitted, although the LSO advised lawyers to be cautious of the risks associated with such practice. A judge will receive the finalized draft order by email, sign the order, scan it, then send the signed copy to counsel.