gavel on a laptop

The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) has issued guidance for virtual hearings, setting out some basic advice for participating in regulatory proceedings that are now being conducted remotely due to the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak.

Last week, the OSC announced that it will continue to carry out tribunal proceedings either by videoconference or teleconference for the the foreseeable future. The regulator put an end to in-person hearings back in April, in response to public health requirements for physical distancing.

On Wednesday, the OSC issued a guide for witnesses, counsel and others participating in virtual hearings in the months ahead.

The guide sets out technical requirements for participating in virtual hearings and includes general advice for dealing with the now-familiar challenges of remote work, such as bandwidth limitations, connectivity issues, audio problems and outside distractions.

It also reminds witnesses that they are still obliged to tell the truth, even in online proceedings, noting that “the law requires that you tell the truth. This requirement to tell the truth is not altered by the fact that the hearing is taking place virtually.”

The guide indicated that the OSC aims to continue the practice of excluding witnesses from a hearing until they testify by limiting their access to the proceedings until an appointed time.

The OSC also expects witnesses to provide their evidence without engaging in outside communication, such as emailing or texting others during their testimony.

Virtual OSC hearings remain open to the public, but recordings and screenshots are prohibited.