Under Rule 25 of the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Rules, the Tribunal can decide to proceed by way of an electronic hearing, either for the totality of a proceeding, or in combination with an in-person hearing and/or written submissions. A videoconference or teleconference hearing is a hearing where parties and the Tribunal connect using a videoconference or teleconference platform which allows participants to attend without being present physically on the Tribunal’s premises.
The Tribunal will consider proceeding by way of a videoconference/teleconference hearing, at the request of a party or at its own initiative, for a variety of reasons including when a party or witness taking part in a proceeding is located outside of the National Capital Region, or if it is impractical or impossible to proceed by way of an in-person hearing (such as during the COVID-19 pandemic).
Before the Tribunal decides to proceed by way of a videoconference/teleconference hearing, it will seek parties’ views as to their willingness to proceed in that manner.
Any party requesting a videoconference/teleconference hearing should notify the Registry and other parties of record as soon as possible.
Parties may object to a videoconference/teleconference hearing, but the objecting party must explain why this hearing method would seriously affect its ability to present its case.
The Tribunal retains the discretion in all circumstances to order that a case be heard by way of a videoconference and/or teleconference hearing.
When the Tribunal decides that it is appropriate to proceed by way of videoconference, Cisco Webex Meetings will be used. The Registry will provide log-in information to parties and counsel so that they can join the videoconference at a pre-established date and time.
When the Tribunal decides that it is appropriate to proceed by way of teleconference, the Registry will provide the dial-in information to parties and counsel by email for participants to join the teleconference at a pre-established date and time.
Members of the public who wish to attend a public videoconference or teleconference hearing are requested to contact the Registry at least two business days prior to the start of the hearing. They will subsequently receive a Cisco Webex Meetings invitation or dial-in information by email.
The Appendix to this practice notice sets out the technical requirements and other information that participants must comply and familiarize themselves with so that videoconference/teleconference hearings proceed as efficiently and smoothly as possible or reconvene in another hearing format.
During videoconference/teleconference hearings, parties, and witnesses will be asked by an official of the Registry of the Tribunal to confirm their identity; this may be done by showing a valid piece photo identification when participating by videoconference. Where it is critically important to verify the identity of a party or witness, it may not be possible to proceed by way of teleconference. In all instances, a party or witness that has not been identified to the Tribunal’s satisfaction will not be permitted to speak or testify.
Once the identity of a witness has been verified, an official of the Registry of the Tribunal will administer an oath or affirmation. If a witness wishes to take an oath, counsel must notify the Registry at least two business days prior to the start of the hearing and the witness must attend the hearing with a copy of the religious book of their choice.
Parties or witnesses participating by teleconference or videoconference will not be permitted to submit documents that do not already form part of the record over the course of the hearing, save in exceptional circumstances. If the Tribunal allows it and all parties consent to the request, such documents must be made available immediately to all participants and the Tribunal. Should the E-Registry/E-Filing service need to be used for the transmission of documents, the Tribunal may adjourn the hearing until such time as the Registry is able to make the documents available for retrieval to parties on the E-Registry Service.
The Tribunal expects parties, counsel, and witnesses to appear on time and may decide to proceed regardless of their failure to do so.
In the event of unforeseen technological issues, the Tribunal will temporarily adjourn to address those issues to resume the proceedings as quickly as possible. Parties should be prepared to proceed by way of teleconference should the issues prevent the hearing from proceeding by way of videoconference.
During videoconference hearings, no confidential information shall be discussed, and no confidential documents will be displayed, with no exceptions.
When confidential information is to be discussed, it is to be discussed by teleconference only. The Tribunal will apply the same procedures for the conduct of in camera proceedings as are applied for in-person hearings, with the following adaptations:
- Counsel will be responsible for ensuring, pursuant to their undertakings, the confidentiality of the location from which they are participating in the hearing.
- Additionally, counsel will be responsible for ensuring their witnesses are in possession of all confidential documents, in accordance with the Tribunal’s Confidentiality Guidelines, for purposes of their testimony and as registered in the Tribunal’s official record so that all participants can refer to the same exhibit and page numbers. Counsel, parties, and witnesses should be prepared to proceed with all the relevant information from the record.
Appendix—Technical requirements and other information
Whether participating by teleconference or videoconference, parties, counsel and witnesses undertake to:
- when Call In or Call me audio option is required, whenever possible, use a hard-wired landline, preference should be given in the following order:
- corded landline phone
- cell phone
- cordless landline phone
- it is preferable to use a computer that is connected to a local area network; wireless connections are to be used only when no other alternative exists;
- not use public accessible Wi-Fi when participating by videoconference;
- use a headset with microphone during the videoconference/teleconference hearing;
- have a valid piece of photo identification to confirm their identity;
- dress in a manner that is appropriate for a tribunal hearing;
- be in a quiet and private room where background noise is minimal or non-existent;
- be in a windowless room or a room where window shades are drawn in order to avoid glare;
- always identify themselves before speaking, speak clearly, and enunciate, in order to facilitate the transcription of the hearing;
- ensure that there is sufficient internet coverage and all devices are fully charged or plugged in;
- close all applications running on the device used that are not related to the proceedings in order to maximize performance and connection;
- test microphones and cameras prior to joining the videoconference hearing, testing will be conducted prior to the hearing;
- not record the proceedings;
have one camera per person and abide by the naming conventions provided by the Tribunal;
keep their cameras turned on at all times and only unmute themselves when speaking;
- other than practitioners/litigants-in-person appearing, keep their microphones muted;
- have the Registry’s email (firstname.lastname@example.org) available should a problem accessing the hearing occur; and
- be prepared to proceed by way of teleconference should issues arise preventing the use of videoconference.
Whether participating by teleconference or videoconference, members of the public undertake to:
- mute their microphone and keep their cameras turned off;
- not use any other functionalities of the Cisco Webex Meeting system; and
- not record the proceedings.