Notices to Counsel
FAILURE OF HEARINGS TO PROCEED: Postponement Policy Updated
September 22, 2015
Postponed hearings are most often caused by claimants or their counsel requesting a postponement, or failing to attend at the scheduled time. Requests for postponement also occur at the request of other participants (Canada, church entities) but significantly less so.
The Oversight Committee and the Supervising Courts have encourage the Secretariat to put in place procedures to reduce the number of postponed hearings.
In order to reduce the number of IAP hearings that are postponed, the postponement policy that has been in place since November 2011 has been updated. The Postponement policy provides guidance and various measures to Adjudicators to assist in reducing the number of claims that fail to proceed to hearing.
Under the revised policy, once a date for a hearing has been set, the parties have two weeks during which they can request that a hearing be re-scheduled. Requests to reschedule a hearing after the two-week window could result in a range of consequences, including financial penalties for counsel, and in some cases, dismissal of a claim. Adjudicators may also take requests to reschedule hearing into account in assessing the fairness and reasonableness of legal fees.
The policy applies to self-represented claimants a well as claimant show have retained counsel. It comes into effect immediately.
The revised policy is intended to provide various measures to adjudicators and to encourage a consistent approach among adjudicators. It acknowledges that in some cases, such as an accident, sudden illness, or disruptive weather conditions, some postponements cannot be avoided. As always, the decision-making authority rest with the adjudicator assigned to the case. The revised policy is not a directive; it is intended as guidance.
The Secretariat is nearing the end of the IAP. Extra measures must be taken to reduce the number of lost hearing days, while also maintaining a process that is fair to all parties.
The full text of the revised Postponement Policy (Guidance Paper 7-R1 Failure of Hearing to Proceed) is available on the IRSAS website.
Dan Shapiro, Q.C