On February 9, 2021, Chief Justice Eugene Rossiter of the Tax Court of Canada held a webinar to update the public on the Court’s current status and outlook as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Tax Court previously announced that all in-person sittings were canceled through to February 12, 2021. Chief Justice Rossiter has now confirmed that in-person sittings are further canceled through to March 12, 2021. The Court plans to give another update on future judicial sittings during the week of March 1, 2021.
The Chief Justice also provided some updates on the Tax Court’s backlog of cases and other items of interest, including:
- The number of reserved judgments which have not yet been published is low, owing in part to the fact that new appeals to the Tax Court were down 50% in 2020 as compared to 2019. An increased volume of appeals to the Court is expected to begin in late-2021.
- The Court hopes to have all of its files fully digitized by the summer of 2021.
- The Court is working towards being able to hold trials entirely by video conference. In the coming month, two cases will be selected for a pilot project for a “hybrid” trial consisting of both paper and video conference. The Court does not expect to be holding trials solely by video conference in the near future.
- The Court is prepared to allow sittings which do not require witnesses (e.g. motions, oral arguments) to proceed by video conference.
- The Court is exploring changes to its rules of procedure and/or releasing a Practice Note which would allow parties to validly serve documents electronically, if both parties consent.