Toronto Civil Court- The new normal
The court moved from 393 University Avenue to 330 University Avenue in mid January and the new location is an unmitigated disaster. It is 1/10th the size of the previous location and the time to complete any filing or file search has been multiplied exponentially.
To complete any filing, you must first line up for 15-60 minutes to get a number and then wait times to be served are 2-3 hours at best. On many days if you don’t have a number by around 10:30 a.m. you risk not getting served at all. The only way to guarantee service is to arrive before 7:30 a.m. and line up outside the building as they won’t allow people inside until opening. Any filing that requires the clerk to have the physical file is now further delayed. Previously we would order the file ahead of time so it would be available when we got to the counter. Now, the clerk orders it at time of service and then there is a further delay of 30-60 minutes for the file to be brought up from the basement.
The only current exception is for Motion materials which have a separate queue and usually can be completed within an hour. However, this is the 3rd change to the queuing system they have made in a month so there is no guarantee it will continue. Part of this problem is they were trying to direct more difficult/involved filings to more experienced clerks but staffing levels are low, several senior clerks have gone part-time or retired as they hate the new working environment.
File searches or copying is now also a much longer procedure. There are only 2 Public view terminals to look up files and they are always in use creating line-ups. While at the previous location you could order a physical file and have it within 10 minutes to view and copy it is now a 1-3 hour procedure if the file is stored in the basement of the new building or a 1-10 day wait depending on which off-site location the file is located. Files prior to 2016 will generally be the longer wait time.
While the process for orders and judgments hasn’t changed other than the extra wait time to file there has also been a notable increase in time for the signed originals to come back completed. What used to be 2-4 weeks is now 6-8 weeks and counting.
The new location is also very uncivilized for the people attending there. There are exactly 6 chairs in the cramped waiting area by the counters. At the old location there was seating for approximately 80 in addition to a cafeteria, variety store and more seating in the expansive lobby. The new building has none of this, in fact they just recently removed the 2 benches in the lobby. As mentioned, you are forced to wait outside regardless of weather in the morning before the court opens and you can find no assistance from the court office or building management in trying to improve conditions or procedures.
So, what does this all mean?
Expect delays as mentioned above, we will be doing our best to complete your files as we have for decades, but please understand the obstacles we are now facing.