COVID-19 and the public health response to the global pandemic has had a significant impact on the conduct of civil litigation in Ontario and elsewhere. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has encouraged all regions to adopt virtual proceedings wherever possible. It has requested that counsel and parties accommodate requests made by opposing counsel or parties for virtual hearings or other arrangements. The civil bar has responded by utilizing technology to move matters forward while supporting public health efforts to stabilize COVID-19 infection rates. The conduct of virtual examinations for discovery is one area of civil litigation practice where technology has been swiftly adopted. With almost two years of conducting virtual examinations for discovery, it appears that the practice is here to stay so long as COVID-19 remains a relevant limiting factor and perhaps will even continue when there are no epidemic outbreaks. The progress made over the pandemic to use technology to make the civil legal system more efficient, affordable, and accessible shall hopefully continue. This article will set out benefits and drawbacks of virtual examinations for discovery, draw the reader’s attention to four decisions dealing with virtual examinations, provide key takeaways from these decisions, and share resources to assist in conducting a virtual examination.
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