Fast-track Settlement Conferences

The COVID-19 pandemic has created delays for parties with appeals before the Tax Court of Canada. In order to offer parties additional avenues for resolving their appeals, the Court is introducing a fast-track settlement conference process.

This process will not require parties to have made a written offer of settlement as outlined in Practice Note No. 21. If parties wish to use the fast-track settlement conference process, they must file a joint written request with the Court as described below.

The fast-track settlement conference process will be available to parties temporarily to help alleviate the backlog caused by the Court’s closure.

The procedure for the fast-track settlement conference process is below.

Dated this 21st day of July, 2020

(Original signed by)

Eugene P. Rossiter

Chief Justice

The following are the principles and procedures which shall be used for the fast-track settlement conference process:

Conditions of eligibility

  • General Procedure appeals
  • A Reply to the Notice of Appeal must have been filed
  • Both parties must agree in writing to apply for a fast-track settlement conference

How will parties apply?

  • The parties must file a joint written request with the Court to the attention of the Chief Justice or Associate Chief Justice, applying for the fast-track settlement conference
  • The request must be no longer than 12 pages
  • The request must outline:
    • The amount in issue;
    • The material facts in dispute;
    • The key issues to be discussed at the settlement conference;
    • Each party’s position on the issues to be discussed;
    • Why the parties believe their appeal is suitable for a settlement conference;
    • Any settlement offers that have been made to date;
    • The appeal’s current stage of discovery; and
    • The parties’ preferred venue for a settlement conference, being one of Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal.
  • The request must be written in the official language in which the parties wish the settlement conference to be conducted.

How will fast-track settlement conferences be scheduled?

  • In order to determine if the appeal is suitable for the fast-track settlement conference process, a judge may consult with the parties jointly or individually as would be done in a breakout session during a standard settlement conference.
  • If a judge is of the view that there are settlement possibilities that should be explored at a fast-track settlement conference, the judge will contact the parties to:
    • Provide them with a date for the conference;
    • Provide them with a location for the conference, being one of Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal;
    • Confirm that the parties and their counsel will attend the conference;
    • Discuss settlement briefs and the briefs’ contents; and
    • Make any other request necessary to ensure that the conference proceeds efficiently.
  • It is expected that fast-track settlement conferences will be scheduled within 90 days of the date of the parties’ joint written request.

What happens if the parties fail to settle the appeal?

  • The appeal will be put back in the scheduling queue at the same stage as it was prior to the fast-track settlement conference being held; and
  • The judge who conducted the settlement conference will not sit as the trial judge should the appeal require a trial, and will not communicate with the trial judge concerning any aspect of the fast-track settlement conference process.