Financial Services Tribunal

The Financial Services Tribunal is an independent, adjudicative body composed of at least nine members, including the Chair and two Vice-Chairs. The Tribunal has exclusive jurisdiction to exercise the powers conferred under the Financial Services Tribunal Act, 2017 and other Actsthat confer powers on or assign duties to the Tribunal. It also has exclusive jurisdiction to determine all questions of fact or law that arise in any proceeding before it. As well, the Tribunal has authority to make rules for the practice and procedure to be observed in a proceeding before it and to order a party to a proceeding before it to pay the costs of another party or the Tribunal's costs of the proceeding.

COVID-19 Procedures:

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic the Tribunal expects proceeding participants to abide by all health and safety measures issued by various levels of government and public health agencies.

The Tribunal recognizes the need to reasonably balance public health concerns with our ongoing adjudicative responsibilities by ensuring our processes, scheduling of new matters and matters in progress continue to move forward during COVID-19-related disruptions without compromising public and personal safety. Until further notice, parties and other members of the public are requested not to attend at the Tribunal offices, except by order of the Tribunal in relation to a specific proceeding. In this regard, the Tribunal has put in place specific COVID-19 screening requirements which must be followed prior to any in-person attendance at Tribunal offices as ordered by the Tribunal – discussed below.

Further to Rule 25.01 of the Rules of Practice and Procedure for Proceedings Before the Financial Services Tribunal (“Rules”), in April 2020 the Tribunal adjourned all previously scheduled in-person motions/hearings before it, due to ongoing COVID-19-related work and public safety restrictions, subject to Tribunal orders in specific proceedings.

Until further notice, and subject to the Tribunal ordering otherwise, all existing and new pre-hearing conferences/motions/hearings in a proceeding scheduled to be heard by the Tribunal will be held either in writing or electronically (by teleconference or by video conference), as determined by the Tribunal pursuant to its Rules and practice directions and in consultation with the parties to the proceeding.  In this regard, earlier this year, the Tribunal issued a COVID-19-focused Discretionary In-Person Hearing Practice Direction as well as an Electronic Hearing Practice Direction to provide a framework for in-person, electronic and hybrid (part in-person and part electronic attendance) participation in motions/hearings while COVID-19 restrictions remain and (in the case of electronic hearings), going forward.

The Tribunal continues to accept all filings in relation to proceedings, including Requests for Hearing/Notices of Appeal, party submissions and other filings pursuant to pre-hearing conference and other orders of the Tribunal. Parties may file their materials with the Tribunal by fax (at 416-226-7750), by e-mail (contact@fstontario.ca) or as otherwise ordered by panel chairs. The Tribunal will continue to issue pre-hearing conference memoranda and any decisions relating to its proceedings.

The Registrar will continue to make arrangements for all pre-hearing conferences/motions/hearings in a proceeding as ordered by the Tribunal and will contact all affected parties to such proceedings as required. The Tribunal retains the discretion in all circumstances to determine the manner in which an electronic or virtual motion/hearing will be conducted in whole or in part (i.e., hybrid) (Rules 20, 21 and 22).

Please contact the Registrar with any questions.

In-Person or Hybrid Format:

As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic there is increasing interest in the return to in-person hearings in whole or in part (i.e., hybrid hearings which are part electronic and part in-person).  Some hybrid hearings have already commenced.  The appropriate Tribunal hearing format will continue to be a matter decided by the panel chair in each proceeding in accordance with our Rules and practice directions.  Rather than prematurely relaxing any of the restrictions set out in the practice directions with respect to in-person hearings, the Tribunal intends to accommodate in-person and hybrid hearing requests within its current structure.  To this end, Tribunal panels will have regard to government legislation and regulations relating to the province’s reopening rules, as well as party submissions and proceeding circumstances.

If a panel chair determines that an in-person or hybrid format is appropriate, a number of considerations will be discussed with parties during a pre-hearing conference.  These in-person attendance considerations apply to all potential in-person participants, including panel members, Registrars, court reporter and the public, and include such things as hearing room capacity, distancing and other public health protocols, identification of eligible participants interested in voluntary in-person attendance, voluntary vaccination status disclosures and COVID-19 screening requirements - see below.  In-person attendance eligibility will be determined by the Tribunal panel chair during the pre-hearing conference process or at the hearing based on prevailing circumstances, including COVID-19 screening results – see below.

No participant will be forced to attend a hearing in-person while COVID-19 concerns are present.  Any non-consenting or ineligible participant will be allowed to participate electronically.  At present, members of the public must participate electronically, unless otherwise ordered by the Tribunal.

COVID-19 Screening Protocols for In-Person Attendances:

Questionnaire

As ordered by the panel chair, the Tribunal’s COVID-19 Screening Questionnaire (the “Questionnaire”) will be distributed to all prospective in-person participants following the pre-hearing conference at which the in-person hearing format (in whole or hybrid) is approved by the panel chair, and must be completed and returned to the Registrar as soon as possible in advance of the hearing.

Attendance Day Screening Form

In addition to the Questionnaire, the Registrar on each hearing day will be using an Attendance Day Screening Form (the “ADS Form”) to provide in-person participant screening/re-screening prior to entering the Tribunal offices. All in-person participants must comply with the Questionnaire/ADS Form requirements in order to maintain in-person attendance.