This is general information only. It is not legal advice about your situation. This publication is not a substitute for a lawyer’s research, analysis and judgment.
- When does a hearing normally occur?
- What if I want my hearing to happen faster?
- How do I request an expedited hearing?
- What information do I need to include in my request to expedite my hearing?
- What factors will the Tribunal consider in deciding whether to give me an expedited hearing?
- What happens after I request an expedited hearing?
- How can I find out the Tribunal decisions on expediting hearings?
An expedited hearing is one that occurs more quickly than under the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario’s (Tribunal) normal timelines. An expedited hearing is rarely granted and only in circumstances that are truly urgent.
Rule 21 of the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure (Rules) deals with “Expedited Proceedings.” The Tribunal Rules can be found on their web site.
It will normally take up to one year to have your application dealt with at a hearing before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
The Tribunal’s Information Bulletin called Scheduling of Hearings and Mediations, Rescheduling Requests, and Requests for Adjournment sets out the intended timelines for the scheduling of hearings. Hearings are expected to be held:
Where mediation will be attempted:
The mediation will be held within 4 to 5 months after the application is filed, and the hearing is expected to occur within 4 to 5 months of the date of mediation.
Where mediation is not attempted:
The hearing is expected to occur 4 to 5 months after the expiry of the time for filing a Reply.
Almost all cases will go ahead according to the normal timelines. The Tribunal will only speed up its process in exceptional circumstances, where the circumstances “require [emphasis added] an urgent resolution of the issues in dispute.” (Rule 21.1 of the Tribunal’s Rules).
If you believe that your case presents exceptional circumstances, you need to file a request for an expedited hearing.
A Request to Expedite an Application must be made by filling out a copy of Form 14. The Form 14 is available at Request to Expedite Proceedings. You need to fill out the Form 14 and file the Form 14 together with your application to the Tribunal.
A request to expedite an application must:
- Describe in detail the urgent and exceptional circumstances that may affect the fair and just resolution of the merits of the application if the application proceeds in accordance with the Tribunal’s regular process. General, vague or speculative statements will not assist the HRTO in considering the Request.
- Describe the harm that would result if the Request is denied. The Request should provide as much detail as possible to explain the harm that will result from the application being processed according to the usual timelines.
- Explain why the application should be given priority for HRTO resources over other matters, for example, why the applicant’s circumstances are more urgent than those described in many other applications the HRTO receives.
- Set out a detailed description of the requested changes to the HRTO’s normal process, including dates or timeframes where applicable.
If medical circumstances are relied on in support of the request, evidence in the form of medical documentation from a registered medical practitioner will generally be required.
A Request to Expedite must also include one or more declarations signed by persons with direct first-hand knowledge detailing all of the facts upon which the applicant relies in support of the Request to Expedite.
As a first step, it is a good idea to contact the person or company responding to your application (the Respondent) to explain why you need an expedited hearing. You can ask the Respondent to consent to have your application expedited. However, even if the Respondent consents to your request, this does not mean that the Tribunal will automatically grant your request.
The Tribunal must find that the matter is “truly urgent” such that it needs to be decided in a particularly rapid manner. Some of the factors that the Tribunal will consider include:
- Whether there are any circumstances which would undermine the Tribunal’s ability to fairly adjudicate the human rights claim without speeding up the application
- Whether there are any exceptional circumstances, such as where you or a witness is gravely ill, or might not be available if the application is processed in the normal timeline
- Whether a requested and appropriate remedy will be unavailable, without expediting the application
You must keep in mind that what you consider “urgent” and what the Tribunal considers “urgent” may not be the same. For example, your financial circumstances may be very difficult, but the Tribunal has rarely found that an expedited hearing is required because of that reason. Even if you have lost your job and have no income, the Tribunal would not find that an “exceptional” circumstance as many people are facing the same situation.
Some factors that the Tribunal has referred to when it denies a request to expedite include:
- The delay between the discrimination you experienced and the filing of your application
- Financial hardship as the only reason given
- Where the harm you have outlined in your application is based on concerns about what might happen in the future
Some factors that the Tribunal has referred to when it has (rarely) allowed a request to expedite include:
- Very ill health
- A drastic change in personal circumstances
- Needing immediate accommodation (a change in your work environment) because of pregnancy, where the pregnancy obviously has a finite time frame
Note: It also important to make sure that you provide good documentation to support your request for an expedited hearing. For example, if the reason you are requesting an expedited hearing is because of medical reasons then you should provide very good supporting medical documentation.
The Respondent will have an opportunity to reply to your request. They have to do that within seven (7) days after the request was sent, or as the Tribunal directs. The Tribunal will not make a decision until after it receives the response.
Once the decision is made, the Tribunal will advise you and the Respondent of the decision and what the next steps are. This will include scheduling dates and setting special timelines to ensure that all steps in the process get done in time for the hearing.
If you would like to do some research to see the Tribunal’s decisions about expedited applications, you could go to the Canadian Legal Information Institute web site and search Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario decisions by the word “expedite”.