General Objectives of the Proposed Amendments
The general objectives of the proposed amendments are:
- to streamline the process of hearings and to codify the practice relating to litigation process conferences;
- to implement new rules and amend existing rules governing expert witnesses and the admissibility of their evidence in the Tax Court of Canada;
- to allow the Court to proceed with a hearing of one or more appeals, while other related appeals are stayed pending a decision on the lead cases heard by the Court;
- to encourage parties to settle their dispute early in the litigation process; and
- to make technical amendments.
Detailed Description of Proposed Amendments
(1) Streamlining the process of hearings and codifying the practice relating to litigation process conferences
A proposed definition of “litigation process conference” is added to section 2. That definition lists the hearings referred to in section 125 and the conferences referred to in subsection 126(2) and sections 126.1 and 126.2.
Amendments are proposed to subsection 123(4) to indicate that the Registrar or a designated person may fix the time and place for the hearing subject to any direction by the Court.
Proposed subsection 123(4.1) indicates that the Court may, on its own initiative, fix the time and place for the hearing.
Proposed subsection 123(6) indicates that, if the time and place for a hearing have been fixed after a joint application of the parties, the hearing should not be adjourned unless special circumstances justify the adjournment and it is in the interest of justice to adjourn it.
Amendments are required to be made to section 125 (Status Hearing) to provide that initial status hearings are ordered to take place approximately two months after the filing of the reply, and further status hearings can take place later in the appeal to ensure the appeal is ready for trial and to fix a trial date. Finally, proposed subsection 125(8) provides that where a party fails to comply with an order or direction made at a status hearing, or if a party fails to appear at a status hearing, the Court may allow or dismiss the appeal or make any other order that is appropriate.
Existing section 126 is replaced by proposed section 126, which is designed to allow the Chief Justice to assign a judge to manage an appeal that is complex, or slow moving, or for some other reason requires ongoing management by a judge. The judge takes responsibility for the progress of the appeal to ensure that the appeal proceeds to trial in a timely way while conserving judicial resources.
Proposed section 126.1 provides that a trial management conference can be held after the appeal hearing date has been set and is presided over by the judge assigned to preside at the hearing. The conference is to ensure that the hearing proceeds in an orderly and organized fashion.
Proposed section 126.2 permits the Court to direct that a conference be held for the purpose of exploring the possibility of settlement of any or all of the issues.
Amendments are required to section 127 to add references to sections 125 and 126, and to proposed section 126.1.
Amendments are required to section 128 to add references to matters related to a settlement or settlement discussions during a litigation process conference.
(2) Implementing new rules and amending existing rules governing expert witnesses and the admissibility of their evidence in the Tax Court of Canada
Subsection 145(1) is amended to replace the reference to “affidavit” by “expert report.”
Proposed subsection 145(2) provides that the expert’s report must set out the proposed evidence of the expert, the expert’s qualifications and be accompanied by a certificate signed by the expert acknowledging that the expert agrees to be bound by the Code of Conduct for Expert Witnesses that is added as a schedule to the Rules to ensure that expert witnesses understand their independent advisory role to the Court. Proposed subsection 145(3) indicates that if an expert fails to comply with the Code of Conduct, the Court may exclude some or all of the expert’s report.
Proposed subsection 145(4) requires a party to seek leave to the Court if they intend to call more than five expert witnesses at a hearing and proposed subsection 145(5) indicates what the Court has to consider in deciding to grant leave.
Proposed subsection 145(6) allows parties to name a joint expert witness.
Existing subsection 145(2) is renumbered subsection 145(7) and specifies the conditions that need to be met in order for evidence of an expert witness to be received at the hearing.
Existing subsection 145(4) is renumbered subsection 145(8) and indicates how evidence in chief of an expert witness is to be given at a hearing.
Proposed subsection 145(9) indicates what may be addressed during a litigation process conference, other than a settlement conference, in respect of expert witnesses.
Proposed subsections 145(10), (11), (12), (13) and (14) introduce new rules that deal with expert conferences.
Existing subsection 145(3) is renumbered subsection 145(15) and is amended to change the number of days, from 15 to 60, for a copy of rebuttal evidence to be served on all parties.
Proposed subsection 145(16) indicates when evidence of an expert witness can be led in surrebuttal of any evidence tendered under subsection (15).
Proposed subsections 145(17), (18), (19) and (20) allow the Court to require that some or all of the experts testify as a panel. Experts are only allowed to pose questions to each other with leave of the Court to ensure the orderly presentation of evidence. The rules governing cross-examination and re-examination will continue to apply to experts testifying concurrently.
(3) Allowing the Court to proceed with a hearing of one or more appeals, while other related appeals are stayed pending a decision on the lead cases heard by the Court
Proposed section 146.1 is intended to apply where there is more than one appeal which has common or related issues of fact or law. It allows the Court to proceed with the hearing of one of the appeals, the lead case, while other related appeals are stayed pending a decision on the lead case. The parties in a related appeal have to agree to be bound, in whole or in part, by the final decision on the lead case.
(4) Encouraging parties to settle their dispute early in the litigation process
The provisions of the Rules addressing offers to settle are designed to encourage parties to settle their dispute early in the litigation process. An early settlement has the added advantage of reducing the costs borne by the parties and conserving judicial resources.
Parties are entitled to make and accept offers of settlement at any time before there is a judgment and any written offer to settle will be considered by the Court in assessing costs under section 147. In addition to this general rule, there is a need to encourage parties to reach an early settlement, ideally before the beginning of the trial or hearing. This is the specific objective of adding subsections 147(3.1) to (3.8).
(5) Making technical amendments
To amend section 6 to provide that the Court may direct that any step in a proceeding may be conducted by teleconference, by videoconference or by a combination of teleconference and videoconference.
To amend section 52 by adding a new subsection to provide that a demand for particulars shall be in Form 52 and shall be filed and served in accordance with the Rules, and to add Form 52 to Schedule I.
To amend sections 53 and 58 to regroup all matters where the Court may strike out or expunge all or part of a pleading or other document under section 53, and all matters relating to the determination of questions of law, fact or mixed law and fact under section 58. As a consequence of these changes, sections 59, 60, 61 and 62 are repealed.
To add subsection 67(7) to provide for when proof of service of a motion must be filed.
To repeal subsection 95(3) as a result of the changes made to the expert witness rules.
To amend subsection 119(3) as a result of the changes made to the expert witness rules.
To amend paragraph 146(1)(d) to change the number of days for service from 10 to 5.
To add subsection 153(3) to provide that the taxing officer may direct that the taxation of a bill of costs be conducted by teleconference, videoconference or by combination of both.
To amend the reference to “issuing a judgment” by “rendering a judgment” in subsection 167(1).
To remove the reference to “and it shall be entered and filed there whereupon section 17.4 of the Act shall be complied with” in subsection 167(3).
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The full text of the proposed amendments is here. Interested persons may make representations concerning the proposed Rules within 60 days after December 8, 2012. All such representations must cite the Canada Gazette, Part ?, and the December 8th date of publication of the notice, and be addressed to the Rules Committee, Tax Court of Canada, 200 Kent Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0M1.