Mar 24, 2020
Last updated: August 17, 2020
The Tax Court of Canada reopened on July 6, 2020. All Tax Court of Canada courtrooms and registry offices were previously closed for business from March 16, 2020 to July 5, 2020. The reopening was announced in an order and a notice to the public and the profession dated July 8, 2020.
The Tax Court of Canada cancelled all judicial sittings and conference calls for dates up to and including July 17, 2020. Sittings and conference calls resumed by July 20, 2020. Sittings and conference calls scheduled to occur on or after July 8, 2020 will proceed as scheduled in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, Québec and Halifax. Additional sittings in these locations have been scheduled to address the backlog created by the pandemic.
The Court will not hold hearings in cities other than the previously mentioned cities. As such, all hearings scheduled up to December 31, 2020 in locations not in the previously mentioned cities are adjourned and will be rescheduled in 2021. The Registry will contact the parties to confirm the cancellation and to reschedule the hearings. The parties may be able to move the hearing to one of the previously mentioned cities.
Guidance provided by the Tax Court for attending in-person hearings, including health and documentary issues, is available here.
On July 27, 2020, Parliament passed the Time Limits and Other Periods Act (COVID-19) that, among other things, suspends all time limits established by or under an Act of Parliament from March 13, 2020 to September 13, 2020 in respect of (a) any limitation or prescription period for commencing a proceeding before a court, (b) any time limit in relation to something that is to be done in a proceeding before a court, and (c) any time limit within which an application for leave to commence a proceeding or to do something in relation to a proceeding is to be made to a court.
An order and a notice to the public and the profession dated August 14, 2020 clarify the application of the Time Limits Act to proceedings before the Tax Court. In computing time for the purpose of: (a) procedural steps set out in the applicable rules of the Court and (b) orders and directions of the Court made on or prior to March 13, 2020, the period of time beginning on March 13, 2020 and ending on September 13, 2020 is excluded. As a result, the length of the exclusion period is 185 days. The notice to the public and the profession provides a chart setting out the adjusted dates for all 2020 dates impacted by the exclusion period.
The Court will not issue Orders for new timetables reflecting the exclusion period. As such, parties are required to adjust the timetables issued before March 13, 2020 by adding 185 days to all dates scheduled in such timetables. Deadlines in correspondence issued by the Registry of the Court are also extended in the same manner, meaning that the period beginning on March 13, 2020 and ending on September 13, 2020, inclusively, will not be included in the computation of time to provide responses to the Registry.
In the event that a timetable is no longer acceptable to the parties, they may apply to the Court for direction or the Registry, as applicable.
The August 14, 2020 notice notes that the Time Limits Act suspended the time limits for filing notices of appeal during the March 13, 2020 to September 13, 2020 exclusion period, As a result, notices of appeal filed after the original statutory deadline but within the adjusted deadline will be considered to have been timely filed and will be served on the Respondent.
The July 8, 2020 notice provides that the Court will look favourably on applications by the Minister of National Revenue for extensions of the time limits for filing replies to Notices of Appeal. The notice encourages parties to consent to an extension of the time limits for filing such replies.
The July 8, 2020 notice suspends all motion days. Motions can be heard in writing with the consent of both parties, failing which the motion will be scheduled for an in-person hearing, online or by conference call, at the discretion of the presiding judge. In light of the backlog, there may be a significant delay before such motions can be heard.
Finally, the July 8, 2020 notice provides that the Court shall, where possible, conduct online or teleconference proceedings for case management conferences, status hearings, pre-trial conferences, motions without witnesses and applications without witnesses. The notice specifically states that there will not be online proceedings for hearings where witnesses will be giving evidence, or where appellants are self-represented or represented by an agent, unless otherwise requested in writing by the appellant.
Please see the July 8, 2020 Practice Direction and Order and the Notice to the Public and Profession, as well as the August 14, 2020 Practice Direction and Order and the Notice to the Public and Profession, for more detailed information.
For information regarding extended deadlines and measures being adopted in the Federal Court, the Federal Court of Appeal, or the Supreme Court of Canada, please refer to each court’s website.