Lawyers are advised to be on the lookout for policy changes and warnings coming from courts and tribunals within Ontario.

Since 2020, many judicial bodies in Ontario have suspended administrative dismissals in some or all cases due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the MAG issued a direction to suspend the issuance of administrative dismissal notices and dismissal orders for SCJ civil proceedings, Small Claims Court matters, OCJ family court proceedings, and SCJ family court proceedings.

As Ontario continues on its path back to a post-pandemic normal, lawyers should be aware that these policies can and will change, and many bodies are now enforcing their procedural timelines with dismissal orders.

In one recent example, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario dismissed a case as abandoned after a part failed to respond to first a “Request to Mediate and Status Check” letter, and then a “Failure to Respond to Opportunity and Status Check” letter. The latter explicitly warning that a failure to respond could result in a dismissal for abandonment.

Lawyers should take care to make note of all correspondence and timelines issued by a judicial body and ensure deadlines are properly calendered and addressed.