February 22, 2016
For years, the Toronto civil courts have had to deal with limited resources in the face of increasing caseloads. As a result, the Courts are always trying to figure out streamlined processes in order to maximize the use of the Court’s resources, while still enabling parties to move towards resolution in a cost-effective and timely manner. A glaring problem has been the absence of short appointments or “walk-ins” before judges to deal with simple or uncontested matters. While much of the procedural oversight of the litigation process is left to the Masters, who are frequently accessible on short notice to deal with simple or uncontested matters, many types of procedural orders or other relief can only be granted by judges (for example, judgment against a defendant who was noted in default).
Thankfully, the court has now opened up chambers appointments with judges on short notice to deal with scheduling, consent, or urgent matters that will take less than 15 minutes. A similar method has existed on the Commercial List (which deals with complex commercial and corporate litigation) for years with great success.
In order to obtain a chambers appointment before a Judge, a party needs to fill out the appropriate form, depending on if the appointment deals with a motion, or an action that is expected to result in a short trial or long trial, and send the form to the appropriate co-ordinator, proposing several available dates. The co-ordinator will then confirm a date and time for the appointment (usually 9 or 9:30 am), and the parties will be able to attend to speak to the matter.
Given the Courts’ direction for parties to move actions along more quickly, it is a welcome relief to have access to judges on short notice for simple matters. We are hopeful the new chambers appointments should go a long way towards a more efficient and timely litigation process in Toronto.