Practice Direction on Communicating with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario
The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (the HRTO) has developed the following approach to communicating with the HRTO. The procedure outlined below provides general information only. It is not a rule within the meaning of the HRTO’s Rules of Procedure. The HRTO may vary the approach to communicating where appropriate.
Contact information: The Application and Response forms require complete and accurate contact information. If your contact information changes, you must advise the HRTO and all other parties in writing.
For more information on completing the forms, please see the Guides posted on the HRTO website (www.hrto.ca).
Communications from the HRTO: The Application and Response forms ask the parties and their representatives to indicate the best method of communicating with them.
As a general rule, the HRTO will send key documents to the parties by regular mail. However, if a party has indicated that email or fax communication is their preferred method of communication, the HRTO may use this means of communications for other correspondence.
If the Applicant completes the Alternative Contact section of the Application form, the HRTO will communicate with the alternative contact, not the Applicant, and the Applicant’s contact information will not be shared with the other parties.
Representatives: If a party is represented, the HRTO and the other parties are obliged to deal with the representative.
In written communications, the HRTO generally will communicate only with the representative. It is the representative’s responsibility to keep his or her client informed. However, if the representative is not licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada, the HRTO generally will communicate with both the party and representative.
A representative who ceases to represent a party must notify the HRTO and all other parties in writing and provide up-to-date contact information for the party or the new representative.
Communicating with each other:
The HRTO encourages parties to resolve their disputes whenever possible. Resolution can be achieved through the HRTO mediation process or through less formal discussions between the parties without the HRTO’s involvement. Unless the HRTO has directed otherwise, parties are encouraged to discuss settlement directly or, if representatives are involved, through their representatives.
Communication of Decisions
HRTO decisions and interim decisions are posted on the CanLII website – www.canlii.org – which can be accessed free of charge. A link is posted under Decisions on the HRTO website – www.hrto.ca. They are also posted on the Canadian Human Rights Reporter and Lexis-Nexis websites which are accessible by subscription.
The HRTO wants to ensure that parties receive decisions in a timely way, before they are posted publicly. The method of delivery will depend on the urgency of the matter. Where email or fax are used for a final decision, the HRTO will also send a hard copy of the decision by regular mail or some other method of delivery to the parties or, if represented, to their representative.
All Written Communications through the Registrar: All file-related communications with the HRTO, including e-mail, must be addressed to the appropriate Registrar and copied to all other parties. If this rule is not followed, the communications may not be accepted for filing.
Detailed contact information can be found on the HRTO website (www.hrto.ca). For New Applications, the appropriate contact is the Registrar. For Transitional Applications and Commission Referred Complaints, the appropriate contact is the Registrar-Transition.
It is not appropriate to write directly to a Vice-chair or Member.
Reference Line: In all written communications, please use the following reference line:
Re: Tribunal File Number
Applicant’s last name v. Respondent’s last name or name of
Re: Tribunal File Number: 2009-12345-I
Jones v. Acme Manufacturing
E-mail communication: The HRTO allows communication by e-mail which can be an efficient and effective method. However, e-mail can create challenges.
Because it is easy to attach documents to an e-mail, parties sometimes attach unnecessary and large documents. E-mail attachments may not exceed 10mb in any one e-mail.
Parties sometimes treat e-mail as a less formal means of communication and, as a result, forget to copy the other parties or inappropriately copy people with no direct involvement in the proceedings. It is important to remember that emails will be saved as part of the HRTO’s records in the same way as letters and faxes.
Although email can be an efficient means of communication, parties should not expect an immediate response. The HRTO will respond to all forms of communication in a time-appropriate manner, consistent with the Ontario Public Service Common Service Standards.
Persistent failure to comply with the HRTO’s rules for e-mail communications may result in an order or direction prohibiting the person from using that method of communication.
Bound materials: Parties filing bound documents with the HRTO shall file a second copy that is not bound or an electronic version of the documents.
Repetitive or Inappropriate Communications: The HRTO strives to provide expeditious and accessible processes to help the parties resolve their dispute and that respect and reinforce the principles established in the Human Rights Code. Communications that are unduly lengthy, repetitive or disrespectful of any other participant or the Tribunal may be rejected.