The purpose of this notice is to inform counsel, parties and stakeholders of their rights and obligations as the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (the Tribunal) takes steps to proactively manage cases in an effective, accessible and efficient manner and according to the principle of procedural fairness and natural justice. The notice explains how the Tribunal intends to reduce the administrative burdens, complexity and, ultimately, costs of proceedings for all parties, including itself, through steps aimed at shorter hearings and the early identification and resolution of issues.
Achieving greater efficiencies
In keeping with section 35 of the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act (CITT Act) and rule 3 of the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Rules (Rules), the Tribunal has reviewed its current processes and procedures to determine where efficiency gains can be realized.
Section 35 of the CITT Act provides as follows:
Hearings before the Tribunal shall be conducted as informally and expeditiously as the circumstances and considerations of fairness permit.
Rule 3 of the Rules provides as follows:
These Rules shall be liberally construed to secure the fairest, least expensive and most expeditious determination of every proceeding, in accordance with section 35 of the Act.
Specifically, the Tribunal is looking to achieve efficiencies in the following areas:
Tribunal deadlines: Having regard, among other things, to (i) the dictates of natural justice and procedural fairness, (ii) case management exigencies and (iii) other demands on the Tribunal’s time and resources, deadlines should not be considered notional. Rather, all deadlines must be strictly observed, except in demonstrably extraordinary circumstances (e.g. information was not reasonably available prior to the deadline set for the filing of submissions, illness, etc.) and, then, only with leave of the Tribunal. Respecting deadlines is also particularly important in the context of questionnaires and requests for information issued by the Tribunal in injury inquiries or expiry reviews conducted pursuant to the Special Import Measures Act. Guidelines concerning requests for leave to file documents after the deadline fixed by the Tribunal are set out in Appendix 1 to this notice.
Postponements and adjournments of hearings: It is very important that scheduled dates for hearings be respected by all parties. Rescheduling hearings may inconvenience other parties and place an unwarranted administrative burden on the Tribunal. Therefore, the Tribunal expects the scheduled dates for hearings to be respected and intends to scrutinize requests for postponements and adjournments very closely to ensure that they are granted only when necessary. The procedure for seeking a postponement or adjournment under rule 26 of the Rules is set out in Appendix 2 to this practice notice.
Submissions: Counsel and parties should refrain from supplementing their submissions with extraneous information and material of only marginal or tangential relevance to the matters in issue. Every effort should be made by counsel and parties to file concise submissions and only those supporting materials that are relevant to and probative of the matters in issue. The same rationale is applicable to aids to argument that ideally should be limited to a few pages.
Points of consensus: The Tribunal has observed that procedural matters could often be resolved among counsel without requiring the intervention of the Tribunal (e.g., limited disclosure considerations). Parties and counsel are strongly encouraged to first try to reach agreement on these procedural matters before seeking the Tribunal’s intervention or issuing correspondence requesting rulings.
Agreed statements of facts: On a case-by-case basis, the Tribunal will also examine the need to focus or expedite matters. Should this need arise, the Tribunal may require that counsel and parties clearly identify the specific points of fact or law in respect of which there is no dispute among the parties and request that they file an agreed statement of facts prior to the hearing. Parties are also strongly encouraged to do so, on their own initiative, for example, by delineating, in their respective submissions, those issues of fact and points of law on which they agree.
Preliminary issues: To address preliminary matters as early as feasible so as to minimize disruptions to scheduled hearings, the Tribunal may schedule preliminary, or pre-hearing, teleconferences more frequently. Although the Tribunal will take a leading role in that regard, where counsel or parties see such a need, notice should be brought to the Tribunal’s attention as soon as reasonably possible, with a view to resolving preliminary matters in advance of the hearing, thereby contributing to more focused proceedings.
Final arguments: Whenever, and to the extent possible and appropriate, counsel and parties should endeavour to coordinate closing arguments among themselves to avoid unnecessary and time-consuming repetition. This is especially encouraged in those cases involving multiple parties and counsel, whose closing arguments share common elements.
Other measures: The Tribunal may, on a case-by-case basis, implement measures to ensure that hearings conclude within specific time frames. Measures may include the swearing of witnesses prior to the commencement of proceedings and the allotment of strict time limits for examinations-in-chief, cross-examinations, re-examinations and closing arguments.
The Tribunal will rely on its powers as a court of record under section 17 of the CITT Act in conjunction with the Rules to ensure that deadlines are respected and the intended efficiencies achieved. Section 17 of the CITT Act provides as follows:
17(1) The Tribunal is a court of record and shall have an official seal, which shall be judicially noticed.
(2) The Tribunal has, as regards the attendance, swearing and examination of witnesses, the production and inspection of documents, the enforcement of its orders and other matters necessary or proper for the due exercise of its jurisdiction, all such powers, rights and privileges as are vested in a superior court of record.
It will also continue to rely on the long-standing collaboration with, and between, parties and counsel to contribute to the successful implementation of these steps.
Appendix 1—Guidelines on requests for late filings
- Subject to paragraph (4), a submission, response, questionnaire or other document must not be filed by a party past the date specified by the Registrar as the date on or before which it is to be filed in the proceeding.
- A party that seeks to file a submission, response, questionnaire or other document past the date specified by the Secretary as the date on or before which it is to be filed must apply to the Tribunal as soon as practicable, indicating
- the reasons why the submission, response, questionnaire or other document was not or will not be filed on time,
- the relevance of the submission, response, questionnaire or other document to the matters under investigation, and
- why late filing should be allowed.
- An application under paragraph (2) must be made by sending to the Secretary a written request addressing the issues listed in paragraph (2).
- On application under paragraph (2), the Tribunal may,
- seek the views of other parties to the proceeding where it considers it appropriate,
- allow the document to be filed in whole or in part, or
- deny the application.
- The Tribunal will notify the parties of its decision under paragraph (4) and give the reasons therefor where it considers it appropriate.
Appendix 2—Procedure for seeking a postponement or adjournment under rule 26 of the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Rules
Requests for postponements
- Requests for postponements should be made to the Secretary as far in advance as possible of the date fixed for hearing and, except in extraordinary circumstances, at least 10 days prior to the commencement of the hearing. If at all possible, parties are encouraged to make such requests at least 15 days prior to the commencement of the hearing in order to allow the Tribunal to avoid unwarranted administrative costs.
- A party seeking a postponement should first contact the other parties to canvass their views and seek their consent. If all parties consent to the request, they shall communicate this in writing to the Tribunal. The Tribunal will take into account the consent of parties along with other appropriate considerations.
- Parties making a request must fully explain in writing why they require the postponement, having regard to the considerations set out in this notice.
- Upon receiving a request for a postponement, the Tribunal will assess the appropriateness of the request. The following considerations, where appropriate, will be taken into account:
- whether the request is reasonable under the circumstances;
- whether a postponement would unreasonably delay or impede the proceedings;
- whether the request was made as soon as practicable;
- whether any of the parties would be prejudiced if the postponement were granted or not granted;
- whether previous postponements were granted and the reasons why they were;
- any other relevant factors.
- The Tribunal may seek representations from all parties to assist it in more fully considering the request.
- The Tribunal's decision will be communicated, in writing, to all parties. In its decision, the Tribunal will, where possible, indicate the new date for the hearing.
Requests for adjournments
In considering a request for an adjournment of a hearing, the Tribunal may seek representations from all parties and, taking into account the considerations listed above, as appropriate, communicate its decision to the parties. Where possible, the Tribunal will indicate when it will reconvene the hearing.