Your Day in Court
- Getting Ready
- Behaviour in Court
The information found on this site is designed to assist appellants who intend to represent themselves, or have someone who is not a lawyer represent them.
This information is meant as a guide only. The directions and instructions of the presiding judge and the court registrar will prevail over the information contained herein.
Once you have received your notice of hearing, it is time to prepare your case for the hearing.
If you are not available for the date assigned for your hearing, send a letter as soon as possible to the hearings coordinator explaining in detail why you are not available.
If you intend to call witnesses for the hearing, it is suggested that you contact the Registry of the Court in writing in advance to obtain subpoenas, especially if expert witnesses like doctors or accountants are required. Expert reports are to be filed no less than:
- 30 days prior to a general procedure hearing;
- 20 days prior to an employment insurance hearing; and
- 10 days prior to an informal procedure hearing.
If you believe that a government official for example, an official of the Canada Revenue Agency, has information helpful to your case, you may serve that official with a subpoena.
A subpoena legally requires a person to attend the hearing and to bring documents (if any) specified by you. According to the Tax Court of Canada's rules, witnesses who have been served with subpoenas are entitled to a fee, which you must pay. You must serve the subpoenas on your witnesses and will require proof of service if they fail to appear. Should you need any information, please contact the Registry of the Court.
If you or any of your witnesses have special needs, require accommodation measures or require an interpreter, contact the hearings coordinator identified in your notice of hearing, or the Registry of the Court immediately so that arrangements may be made in advance to accommodate your needs. There is no charge for these services.
We invite you to attend, if possible, another hearing prior to your court appearance. This will help you become familiar with the Court's procedure and understand how a hearing is conducted. The hearings coordinator, or a registry officer, will gladly provide you with a schedule of the hearings at a location nearest to you.
It is recommended that you bring your notice of appeal and the reply to the notice of appeal with you to the hearing. You will also need three copies, in addition to your own, of any documents you intend to submit to the Court at the hearing. This will enable both the judge and counsel for the respondent to better follow the presentation of your evidence while the other copy may be filed and form part of the Court's record.
A checklist is available to help you better prepare for the hearing.
Your hearing will involve several participants, including:
- the judge;
- the court registrar, who will greet you when you arrive;
- a court registrar/reporter, who will record the proceedings; (You may purchase a copy of the transcript of the proceedings from the reporting firm. However, transcripts of oral reasons for judgments must be ordered by the Tax Court of Canada and are reviewed by the presiding judge before being issued to the parties. To obtain such transcript, you must submit a request in writing to the Court)
- counsel for the respondent, who is a lawyer representing the other party in your appeal, and his witnesses, if any; and
- your lawyer or agent and your witnesses.
You should arrive and be ready for your hearing 15 minutes prior to the time scheduled for commencement. Your case may not be called first but your presence at the scheduled time is mandatory.
Before the beginning of proceedings, locate the court registrar and notify him of your presence. The court registrar will provide instructions, including where to sit, where you will testify and other information. We encourage you to address any questions you may have to the court registrar before the sitting is opened. The court registrar cannot, however, answer any questions of a legal nature.
Behaviour in Court
Please note that the Tax Court of Canada's courtrooms are a scent-free environment.
Normal business attire is recommended for court appearances. Food, drinks, coats, hats, chewing gum, pagers, cellular phones, cameras and tape recorders are not permitted in the courtroom.
When the proceedings begin, the court registrar enters the courtroom followed by the judge, at which point everyone rises. The court registrar declares the sitting open and asks everyone to be seated. At this point, the court registrar announces the first case. The presiding judge controls the proceedings during the hearing. The court registrar calls the cases, administers oaths and records exhibits.
When speaking to the judge or when he speaks to you, please stand and address the judge as "Justice", "Mr. Justice" or "Madam Justice". Always face the judge and speak loud and clear. The court registrar is addressed as "Mr./Ms. Registrar".
Guests are welcome. However, only those who have a direct role in the hearing are permitted to sit at the table for counsel. Witnesses and other guests are seated in the audience.
In most instances, the appellant is asked to present his or her case first. You will be asked to enter the witness stand and to state your full name and address. You will also be asked to either take an oath on the Bible or give a solemn affirmation; the choice is yours.
At this point, the judge will usually expect you to present your case. This simply involves telling the judge the facts and the reasons for your appeal and providing documents or other evidence in support of your explanations. Either side may call witnesses to testify. Either party may also request that the judge exclude witnesses during the testimony of other witnesses, in order that a subsequent witness not hear testimony from the preceding witness. When submitting exhibits or other documents, please hand them to the court registrar. Both parties may object to the use of any of the documents that are submitted as exhibits.
The judge is neutral and independent. The judge has no knowledge of your particular case beyond what has been set out in the notice of appeal and the reply, so he or she may ask you additional questions.
After you have presented your case and called your witnesses, counsel for the respondent will be permitted to ask questions of you and your witnesses. Once you are finished, counsel for the respondent will present his position in response to your case. You may ask questions of witnesses called by counsel for the respondent once he has finished questioning them.
After all the evidence and facts have been presented, you must present your position as to how the law should be applied to your appeal. Counsel for the respondent will then present his position as to why the appeal should not be allowed. You are entitled to respond to any new argument raised by the respondent.
Once both parties have concluded, the judge may either take a recess, give his decision or reserve the decision. In the latter case he will give the decision at a later date. You will receive an official copy of the judgment.
Please note that if reasons for judgment are issued in your appeal, they may be published on the Internet and/or in other publications, as the public has a right to this information.
If you have incurred costs for which the rules provide, you may ask the judge for costs when you ask him or her to allow your appeal.
You should also be knowledgeable of the fees paid to witnesses who have been served with a subpoena. See the Tax Court of Canada's rules applicable to your appeal.
- In the event you have special needs, please contact the hearings coordinator
- In the event you require accommodation measures, please contact the hearings coordinator
- If you or your witnesses require translation services, please contact the hearings coordinator
- In order to obtain forms to subpoena your witnesses, communicate in writing with the hearings coordinator or the Registry office nearest you
- Be aware of the fees that will be required by the witnesses, and which ones will be recognized by the Court.
- Notice of Appeal
- Reply to Notice of Appeal
- Three copies, in addition to your own, of all other supporting documents
- Business attire
Attend Court Hearing
- If you wish to attend a court hearing prior to your hearing date, for observation purposes, simply call the hearings coordinator for available times and locations or visit our Web site at Hearings Schedule
Questions should be forwarded to the Registry of the Tax Court of Canada
Headquarters - Ottawa
200 Kent Street
Telephone: (613) 992-0901 or 1-800-927-5499
Fax: (613) 957-9034