The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (Tribunal) has published a number of proposed changes (Proposed Changes) to the current Rules of Procedure (Rules). According to the Tribunal, the Proposed Changes will be published shortly in the Canada Gazette, Part I.  However, some delays in publishing the Proposed Changes may occur due to COVID-19-related reasons.

What is the general intent of the Proposed Changes?

The Proposed Changes include the modernization of service and filing methods, and promote overall efficiency during proceedings. Specifically, the Proposed Changes are intended to provide parties with more efficient ways to bring and respond to complaints, and to reach resolutions in a more timely manner during proceedings.

In addition, the Proposed Changes contemplate ways to ensure that the Rules stay current and adaptable, which may prove to be particularly helpful in today’s pandemic context.

How to provide insight and feedback on the Proposed Changes?

Currently, the Tribunal is seeking comments and feedback on the Proposed Changes, which must be submitted prior to September 1, 2020. For more information on the consultation process, please see the letter from the Tribunal’s Chairperson here.

What are some of the most salient Proposed Changes?

The Proposed Changes include the following:

  • On electronic service and filing: Service would be carried out by email to an email address provided by the opposing party; or electronically to an Internet address designated by the registrar. Documents would also be filed by transmitting a document to an Internet address designated by the registrar.
  • On addressing non-compliance: The Tribunal would be empowered to address situations of non-compliance with the Rules by choosing to proceed with the inquiry, dismissing the complaint, or ordering a party to remedy the non-compliance.
  • On filing documents prior to the hearing: Each party would be required to file a list of documents (excluding expert reports within the meaning of Rule 18) that they wish to introduce into evidence no later than 45 days before the hearing, as well as a copy of each of those documents.
  • On retention requirements of the official record: The Tribunal would be required to keep an official record of the proceedings, including a list of specified documents. Subject to confidentiality measures or orders made under section 52 of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA), and any retention period established by the chairperson, the official record would be accessible to the public.
  • On more detailed requirements for statements of particulars: Under the Proposed Changes, statements of particulars would need to be more detailed so that the parties can tease out the elements of the alleged discrimination in the claim, and the proper remedy and elements of the stated defences would need to be identified more efficiently.
  • On the new time limits for the issuance of Tribunal decisions: The Tribunal would be required to issue a decision under section 53 of the CHRA within six months of the presentation of the parties’ arguments and evidence. If the decision relates to a motion, the Tribunal would be required to issue a decision within three months of the presentation of the parties’ arguments and evidence. It should be noted that the Proposed Changes empower the Tribunal to extend these new time limits, upon notice to the parties.
  • On the coming into force: The Proposed Changes are set to come into force on the 90th day after the day on which they are registered.

We will keep you apprised of new developments as they are made public in the coming months.

The authors would like to thanks Emma Hamer, summer student, for her assistance in preparing this piece.

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