On April 20, 2017, the Ontario Securities Commission (the “OSC”) published draft Rules of Procedure and Forms [PDF] and a proposed Practice Guideline [PDF] for proceedings before the OSC, and invited comments [PDF] from interested persons on both documents. Once enacted, these Rules and the Guideline will replace the previous Rules of Procedure (enacted in 2014) and a number of practice guidelines issued by the OSC.

According to the OSC, the proposed changes to the Rules and Guideline will simplify the rules governing proceedings before the OSC “to improve fairness and accessibility, particularly for a broad range of respondents with differing backgrounds and levels of representation.”

The proposed Rules and Guideline introduce the following significant changes:

  • Case Management for all Proceedings: The proposed Rules and Guideline adopt the approach taken by the previous guideline for Case Management Timeline for Enforcement Proceedings (which focused on the early identification and resolution of preliminary matters in enforcement proceedings), and apply it to all types of proceedings before the OSC.
  • Electronic Filings and Hearings in Enforcement Matters: The Guideline provides that all merits hearings in enforcement proceedings, except for inter-jurisdictional enforcement proceedings, will be electronic hearings, and also provides that parties will file all documents electronically and be expected to follow a proposed Protocol for E-Filing and E-Hearings [PDF].
  • Redacting Personal Information: Like the existing practice guideline on the use and disclosure of personal information, the Guideline states that parties must use “reasonable efforts” to limit the disclosure of personal information of an investor, witness or other third party to information that is necessary for the disposition of a matter. The Guideline also adds that parties to a proceeding must redact their documents accordingly, to protect any personal information.

The proposed changes may be refined based on comments received. Once adopted, the proposed Rules and Guideline will apply to all proceedings before the OSC, including proceedings commenced before their adoption.

The goal of the proposed changes is that the Rules and the OSC’s practice guidelines should be “simplified to improve fairness and accessibility, particularly for a broad range of respondents with differing backgrounds and levels of representation.” Like many regulators, the OSC has to address matters with widely varying degrees of complexity, ranging from large cases with multiple respondents, all represented by counsel, to smaller cases involving self-represented litigants. The proposed changes, including in particular the institution of case management for all proceedings, will allow the OSC some flexibility as compared to a one-size-fits-all procedure.