Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Cases referred to the Tribunal on or after July 11, 2021

My case was referred by the Canadian Human Rights Commission to the Tribunal on or after July 11, 2021. What rules do I use?

The new Rules apply to your case. Please refer to the new Rules when preparing your case. We also encourage you to consult A Guide to Understanding the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for the steps to prepare your case for hearing under the new Rules.

Cases referred to the Tribunal before July 11, 2021

My case was referred to the Tribunal before July 11, 2021. Do I have to learn a whole new set of rules?

Since your matter was referred to the Tribunal before July 11, 2021, the new Rules say the choice is yours. You can choose to go forward under the new Rules, or not. It’s up to the Parties: if everyone agrees, the new Rules will apply. If all Parties do not agree, your matter will continue under the old Rules. We encourage all Parties to consider adopting the new Rules for the increased simplicity and efficiency they provide.

If you opt into the new Rules, we are here to help you in the process and to answer any questions you may have.

Why did the Tribunal adopt new Rules?

The Tribunal has been using a set of informal, or ad hoc, Rules for decades. What that means is that they never went through all the formal steps that most government rules must pass through. While these Rules got the job done, as time went on, they no longer covered all the situations that would come up at the Tribunal. For example, when the original Rules were written, the idea of e-mailing key documents, or holding an entire hearing through Zoom, would have seemed unrealistic. Today, these are all options we can offer parties to help make our process easier to use for you.

Tribunal members found ways to fill in the gaps, making orders to speed matters up or ensure efficiency. But it was obvious the rules needed to be modernized. So, the Tribunal decided it was time to officially update the Rules.

In the process, we asked Parties and others interested in human rights to provide feedback on how they could be improved. We worked closely with experts in rules-writing, as well as language experts to make sure that both the French and English versions of the new Rules were consistent in both official languages. The goal at every step was a set of Rules that would help Parties resolve human rights complaints quickly, efficiently, and fairly.

What are the main changes to the new Rules?

The main takeaway is that under the new Rules, the goal is for Tribunal proceedings to be simpler and faster. The new rules modernize and improve the Tribunal’s process. The new Rules include many practices that the Tribunal has developed over time, and put them in one, updated place.

A big change is a new Rule that requires the Tribunal to release decisions within a certain time. A decision on a motion must be made within three months, and a final decision resolving a case must be made within six months (Rule 43). Other key changes include rules describing electronic options for different steps in the proceedings. These include rules about electronic filing and hearings held by videoconference. The new Rules also provide more detailed requirements in the Statement of Particulars to help Parties better prepare their case and understand what they need to do to get ready. Other changes include a rule allowing the Tribunal to sanction non-compliance with the Rules of Procedure and a new rule on abuse of process or vexatious conduct, which means conduct by Parties that is repetitive and burdensome.

For an overview of all key changes, please visit our “Summary of New Changes to the Rules of Procedure under the Canadian Human Rights Act” webpage. A table of comparison is also available, to provide a more detailed look at the differences between the Old and New Rules.

I’m still not sure I understand what the new Rules mean for my case. What can I do?

There are many options to get more information and we are here to help make the transition smooth and easy.

For starters, the Member who is assigned to hear your case will take the time to explain the new Rules at your next case management conference call.

The Tribunal Registry can also provide information on the new Rules.

Our website provides additional information on the Rules at the following pages:

Will my case be delayed because of these changes?

No cases – whether ongoing or new – will be delayed because of the changes to the Rules. The Tribunal is committed to the timely and efficient resolution of all matters.

I want the new Rules to apply to my case. What should I do?

The Tribunal will communicate with you directly and provide you with a quick and simple way to agree to the new Rules online. You can also write to the Tribunal Registry to agree to the new Rules. Another way to give your consent is to tell the Member presiding over your case at your next conference call.

The other Party refuses to agree to the new Rules. What can I do?

It could feel disappointing, but if the other Party does not agree to have the new Rules apply to your case, then your case will continue under the old Rules. The new Rules will only apply once all Parties to your case agree. It is important to understand that even if your matter stays under the old Rules, Members can choose to apply most of the “new” approaches to your case as part of their mandate to ensure the hearing process is accessible, fair and efficient.

I’m sticking with the old Rules. What does that mean for my case?

Even if your matter stays under the old Rules, Members can apply the old rules flexibly. When the Member considers that it is fair and appropriate, most of the “new” approaches can be used in your case. In fact, many of the rule changes simply make the Tribunal’s informal practices into rules. For example, the new Rules require Parties to serve and file lists all the documents they plan to rely on at their hearing at least 30 days before it begins. This helps parties and Members better prepare for hearings. It can also make the hearings shorter and more efficient. Members have often ordered parties to do this under the old Rules and can continue to do so.

I’ve agreed to the new Rules. When will I know if the new Rules apply to my case?

The Tribunal will contact you when all Parties in your case consent to the new Rules. Until all Parties agree, the old Rules remain in effect.

What happens to the Tribunal orders, directions and procedural steps made in my case under the old Rules if I now consent to the new Rules?

Any orders or directions continue to apply to your case and all procedural steps taken under the old Rules remain valid. This means that all requirements ordered or directed under the old Rules must still be met. The new Rules apply to any steps taken in your case after all parties agree to be governed by the new Rules. They do not apply to steps taken in the past.

My hearing is now over. Can I still opt-in to the new Rules so that the decision deadlines apply?

Yes, if all Parties consent to the new Rules, the deadlines in the new Rules will apply.

The Canadian Human Rights Act has always said that proceedings at the Tribunal should be as informal and quick as possible, while remaining just. There have unfortunately been times where decisions have taken far too long to come out, and the Tribunal recognizes that we must do better. The new Rules require the Tribunal to make decisions in a timely way.

For any cases with outstanding decisions, the “clock” will only start running on the day the Parties choose to adopt the new Rules. In other words, the deadline will not apply retroactively.