Counsel are no longer allowed to vape during virtual court…


We can’t believe it even has to be said, but yes, that is correct. Numerous reports of counsel vaping, smoking, reading the newspaper and wearing casual attire have emerged recently, highlighting the need for our courts to finally do something about it.

On March 17, 2022, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice announced new modes of proceedings and virtual courtroom etiquette guidelines that must be adhered to. So dust off those gowns everyone, because you’re going to need them again!

Key takeaways:

  • During a virtual appearance, counsel are to leave their video ON while microphone on mute if not speaking. This will take some getting used to.
  • Get rid of your inappropriate backgrounds, cat lovers!
  • Dress as you would if you were attending court in-person.
  • Do not eat, drink or chew gum. Only water in a clear glass is allowed. Tobacco or vaping products are not permitted.
  • If counsel must step away or divert their attention, they must advise the judge and then, stop their video.
  • No more Zoom hearings in your car!
  • Gown for any virtual proceeding that if conducted in-person would require gowning, except:
    • Trial scheduling court/To Be Spoken To Court/Assignment Court;
    • Case conferences, settlement conferences, trial management conferences, or Pre-Trials.
  • In lieu of bowing to the Judge, counsel may nod or bow their heads when the judge enters the video.

As of April 19, 2022, the following proceedings will be held in-person:

  • Examinations for discovery (unless counsel agree otherwise);
  • Mandatory mediations (unless counsel agree otherwise);
  • Judge-alone and Jury trials; and,
  • Appeals to the Divisional Court.

For a thorough review of the Guidelines To Determine Mode of Proceeding in civil actions, and the Virtual Courtroom Etiquette Guidelines, we refer you to the following links:

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