Practice Direction on Rescheduling of Hearings and Adjournments


Practice Directions support the Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT) Rules of Procedure and provide guidance about what the SBT expects of the parties and, in turn, what the parties can expect from the SBT. They assist in understanding the Rules.


General

Hearings will take place on the date and time contained in the Notice of Hearing, unless the SBT agrees to change the date or time.

Parties are expected to begin preparing for the hearing as soon as the appeal is filed. Parties who wish to have legal assistance should act immediately to find a legal representative. Hearings will not be rescheduled because of unreasonable or unavoidable delays in seeking legal assistance.

A request to change a hearing date must be made as soon as possible. The requester must provide alternate dates when he or she is available for a new hearing to be scheduled. These new dates must be within 60 days of the originally scheduled date.

Adjournment requests will be granted only in exceptional circumstances where it is required by fairness.

The SBT will not consider a request to change a hearing date that applies to more than one case (for example, a request to reschedule a block of cases due to a representative not being available for an entire week). A request to change a hearing date must be made separately for each file, unless the files are related and scheduled to be heard at the same time.

Notice of Hearing Date

The SBT shall give parties at least 30 days notice of the hearing, and longer where required, according to the SBT's scheduling timeframe guidelines. (See Appendix A - Scheduling Timeframes)

The 30-day minimum notice applies only to the first notice of hearing. If the hearing date in that first notice is changed, there is still a requirement for reasonable notice to be given, but this may be shorter than 30 days.

The SBT may schedule a hearing with less than 30 days notice if the parties provide their written consent to waive this requirement.

Administrative Rescheduling Rule 13.1

A party may request administrative rescheduling of a hearing in the following situations:

(See Appendix B for a detailed schedule of administrative rescheduling opportunities.)

A party's request to change a hearing date by way of administrative rescheduling must be in writing, unless it is an emergency situation. The request must include the reason that a new date is required. The request need not be provided to the other party; nor is consent required.

The SBT may determine that a party's request for administrative rescheduling should be treated as an adjournment request. If the SBT notifies the requester that an adjournment must be requested, the requester must follow all of the steps for requesting an adjournment.

From time to time, the SBT must reschedule a hearing because of changes in the hearing schedule, member illness or other circumstances. In these circumstances, the SBT may administratively reschedule a hearing date without prior notice to one or both parties, either at the SBT's own initiative or at the request of a party.

Requesting an Adjournment Rule 13.2

Before a party submits an adjournment request to the SBT, the party must contact the other party and try to obtain consent. The written adjournment request must include information about when and how the requester provided the other party with notice of the request, and where applicable written confirmation that the other party consents.

An adjournment request must be in writing and must include detailed reasons why a new date is required. The request must also include information about any previous adjournment or rescheduling requests that were denied by the SBT. Where available, the requester shall provide a daytime telephone number where he or she can be reached.

How to Object to an Adjournment Request Rule 13.3

A party who does not agree with an adjournment request must provide written reasons and send them to the SBT and to the requester. The SBT's copy of the response must include information about when and how the party provided the requester with the response.

Factors the SBT May Consider

In deciding whether to allow an adjournment the SBT may consider any of the following circumstances if applicable:

Scheduling conflicts or vacations of legal representatives will rarely be a reason to allow an adjournment. It is expected that someone else in the office will be able to attend the hearing on behalf of the party.

No Adjournment of a Hearing Date to Permit an Appellant to Obtain Further Medical Reports

In an appeal of a decision that a person is not a person with a disability made under the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, 1997, under section 64(3) of Regulation 222/98, the SBT has no power to adjourn a hearing date to permit an Appellant to obtain further medical reports.

Late Requests Rule 13.4

A request to adjourn the hearing received less than 14 days before the hearing date is considered a late request. Generally, all late requests will be referred to the presiding member to make a ruling on the day of the hearing, because there is not enough time for the SBT to consider it before the hearing.

Where possible, the SBT will try to consider late requests for an adjournment in situations involving last minute emergencies or other compassionate grounds beyond a party's control, such as hospitalization, incarceration or serious illness.

Tribunal's Response

Depending on the time available, the SBT will notify the parties in writing or by telephone of its ruling on an adjournment request. If the requester does not receive a response to the adjournment request, he or she should proceed as if the request has been denied - that is, prepare for and attend the hearing.

The SBT may decline to make a ruling on the adjournment request, and instead refer the request to the presiding member at the hearing if it is concerned that there are issues which are more appropriately dealt with by a member in a hearing.

Where the request is not allowed, the parties and any legal representatives will be expected to be present and be ready to proceed with the hearing. If necessary, a party at the beginning of the hearing may make a new request for an adjournment.

Appendix A - Scheduling Timelines

  1. All new appeals where the Appellant has been found not-disabled will have a hearing date set no earlier than four months from the date the Tribunal sends the request-for-submission letter to the Director of Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). The notice of hearing will follow no later than one month from the submission requests.
  2. All other new appeals that concern Ontario Disability Support Program or Ontario Works will have a hearing date set no earlier than three months from the date the Tribunal issues and mails out the notice of hearing.
  3. On consent of the parties, any hearing can be set with less than 30 days notice.

Appendix B - Schedule of Administrative Rescheduling Opportunities




Effective as of January 1, 2016
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