This guide is general information only. It is not legal advice about your situation. This guide is not a substitute for a lawyer’s research, analysis and judgment. This guide is reliable as of the date of publication (January 2021). You should be aware that the law and procedures under the Human Rights Code (Code) and at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) are subject to change without notice.
This information sheet deals with what can be done if you are unable to attend a mediation or hearing on the date scheduled by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (the Tribunal).
Important Note: The Tribunal has a practice direction called Practice Direction on Scheduling of Hearings and Mediations, Rescheduling Requests, and Requests for Adjournments. You should read it carefully before requesting a rescheduling or an adjournment of a mediation or hearing date.
No. The Tribunal does not consult with you or the other parties before setting the date(s) for mediation or hearing. The Tribunal picks a date based on its own availability and then sends a notice to advise you of the date chosen.
You will find out the date for your mediation when the Tribunal sends you a Notice of Mediation. If you are not available on that date, you will need to ask for the mediation to be rescheduled. You must do this within 14 days of the date of the Notice of Mediation, which advises the parties on the procedure for rescheduling mediation.
First, you should contact the other parties to see if you can agree on alternative dates that are within eight (8) weeks of the originally scheduled date. If you can agree on alternative dates, then one of parties must let the Tribunal know in writing (with a copy to the other parties) within fourteen (14) days of the date of the Notice of Mediation. The Tribunal will then make every effort to schedule the mediation on one (1) of the dates provided by the parties.
If you and the other parties cannot agree on alternative dates, then you should contact the Tribunal in writing (with a copy to the other parties) and provide five (5) alternative dates that are within eight (8) weeks of the originally scheduled date. The Tribunal will contact the other parties with the proposed alternative dates. If, after a reasonable number of attempts, the parties are unable to agree on an alternative date, the Tribunal will set the date for mediation without your agreement or that of the other parties.
The Tribunal may reschedule the mediation to a date earlier than the one originally scheduled if all parties agree to that date, and it is available for the Tribunal. It is your responsibility to contact the other parties to get their agreement.
You will find out the date for your hearing when the Tribunal sends you a Notice of Confirmation of Hearing. If you are not available for some or all the hearing dates scheduled, you need to ask for the dates to be rescheduled.
The Tribunal encourages parties to agree on alternative dates that are within twelve (12) weeks of the original hearing date(s). Where the parties are able to agree on alternative dates, one party must advise the Tribunal in writing (with a copy to all other parties) within fourteen (14) days of the Notice of Confirmation of Hearing.
If the parties are unable to agree on alternative dates, the party asking for the date change must write to the Tribunal (with a copy to the other parties) providing five (5) alternative dates (or blocks of dates if the hearing is scheduled for multiple days). The dates must be within twelve (12) weeks of the original schedule hearing date(s). This request must be made within fourteen (14) days of the date of the Notice of Confirmation of Hearing.
The Tribunal will contact the other parties and try to find a date that works for everyone. If, after a reasonable number of attempts, the parties are unable to agree on dates, the Tribunal may set the dates for the hearing without your agreement or that of the other parties.
If you do not contact the Tribunal within the fourteen (14) day period of the date of the Notice of Mediation or the Notice of Confirmation of a Hearing and something arises later causing you need to change the date(s), you will have to make a request for an adjournment.
You must advise the Tribunal about your need for an adjournment as soon as the need to adjourn arises. At the same time, you must contact the other parties to seek their agreement to adjourn the hearing and to discuss alternative dates.
You will likely have to explain the reason that you need the adjournment to the other parties. The party making the request to adjourn should advise the Tribunal Registrar of the reasons why the adjournment is necessary and, if applicable, any agreed-upon alternative dates.
Note: Where the request to adjourn is on short notice (within a few days of the scheduled date), you must contact the Registrar by telephone or email.
Tribunal policy discourages requests for adjournments outside the fourteen (14) day period to request a rescheduling of mediation or hearing. Adjournment requests are not granted automatically, and will only be allowed in “extraordinary circumstances”, such as illness of a party, witness or representative. Absent exceptional circumstances, the Tribunal will not grant adjournments, even when all parties consent.
The Tribunal discourages the cancellation or adjournment of hearing dates so that the parties can explore settlement. Typically, the Tribunal will not adjourn a hearing date because the parties wish to “engage in settlement discussions” or are “close to a deal.”
If you and the other parties believe you may be able to resolve a matter shortly before the scheduled hearing, you should advise the Tribunal and request mediation/adjudication in accordance with Rule 15A of the Rules (or Rule 8A and 17A for section 53 of the Code Transitional Applications).
If the Tribunal grants you the requested adjournment, the order adjourning the hearing may give the new date the mediation or hearing will begin, or it may simply postpone the hearing with the new date to be set later. If the dates are not set out in the order, the Tribunal Registrar will likely contact you and ask about your availability on the proposed new dates.