In-Person and Hybrid Hearings Protocol

The health and safety of everyone involved in the Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization (CIRO) hearings is paramount. As such, this protocol sets out the measures put in place to maintain a safe and healthy environment following the COVID-19 pandemic and directives to support the return to in-person hearings during this transition period. For more information on CIRO’s practices for electronic proceedings, consult Best Practices for Electronic Proceedings.

This protocol is based on the current federal and provincial guidelines and may change over time. Please read them carefully and note that preventive measures and directives could differ in some cities or provinces depending on the local guidelines and legislation in effect at the time of your hearing.

All individuals attending CIRO hearings in-person should remain mindful and respectful of their own health and safety as well as other individuals involved. If you are not feeling well or have symptoms that have been linked with COVID-19 or other illnesses, do not attend hearings in- person (see below for information on safe alternatives). All participants should be prepared to switch from an in-person to a fully virtual or hybrid hearing format if necessary.


CIRO has developed a framework of control measures that can be adapted to their offices and other (third-party) locations where hearings will be held (e.g., court reporters’ offices, conference centres, hotels etc.) to support the safe restoration of in-person hearings in response to COVID-19 and ensure health and safety of all hearing participants as well as members of the community and the public.

Hearing participants in CIRO proceedings typically include Hearing Committee members (same as hearing panel members thereafter), administrative staff (including the National Hearing Officer (NHO) for hearings proceedings under the Investment Dealer and Partially Consolidated Rules and the Hearings Assistant for hearings proceeding under the Mutual Fund Dealer Rules, hearing registrars and court reporters), parties to the proceeding, witnesses and, if represented, their legal counsel. For the purposes of this document, hearing participants exclude observers, such as members of the public and the media.

In-person hearings entail personal attendance of the parties, their witnesses and legal counsel (if represented by a lawyer), in a physical hearing room, where the hearing is held in the presence of a hearing panel.

Hybrid hearings are those in which some participants attend in-person in the hearing room while others join remotely. Hearing rooms for in-person and hybrid hearings will be equipped with technology that permits the use of videoconferencing (e.g., Webex or another digital platform).

In all cases, a videoconferencing (Webex) link to a hearing may be used by:

  1. a hearing participant who elects to participate remotely, or
  2. any hearing participant who intended to attend the hearing in-person but, due to illness or some other circumstances, is unable to attend in-person and needs to switch to a remote appearance, and
  3. any observers, including members of the public and the media who wish to attend public hearings.

The following protocols apply when individuals attend in-person at either a fully in-person or a hybrid hearing.

    It is anticipated that most of the matters will proceed electronically.

    Until further notice, all initial appearances, prehearing conferences and settlement hearings are generally suitable for and can proceed electronically.

    For contested matters, hearings may be able to proceed either in-person, hybrid or electronically. The parties are encouraged to canvass the appropriate format among themselves and with their witnesses in advance of their hearing and advise the Hearing Office as early as possible, or, at the latest, at the first prehearing conference. Whether the hearing can proceed entirely in-person will depend on the circumstances of each case, including public health advisories at the time of the hearing, individual circumstances of hearing participants, availability of hearing resources, rooms, equipment etc. In case of disagreement, the appropriate format of the hearing will be determined by a hearing panel pursuant to Rule 8409 of Investment Dealer and Partially Consolidated Rules and Rules 1.5 and 5 of the Mutual Fund Dealer Rules of Procedure.

    As COVID-19 vaccination is strongly recommended by Health Canada, all individuals attending in-person are encouraged to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Hearing Committees will maintain alignment with the current and future public health advisories as applicable.

    With the help of technology used to facilitate the conduct of hearings (i.e., Webex and Case Center), individuals who are uncomfortable or unable to participate in-person will have the ability to join and participate in, or observe, the hearing via videoconference. Individuals should contact the Hearing Office at [email protected] for details on how to join the hearing electronically.

    In accordance with the public health guidance that indicates that face coverings are an effective method of source control, hearing participants are encouraged to wear masks or face coverings that cover their nose, mouth, and chin in the hearing room, except when speaking, (e.g., hearing panel members presiding at the hearing and asking questions, a party or counsel making submissions, a witness giving oral testimony etc).

    Hand sanitizers, wipes and non-medical masks will be made available for use as required at reception, counsel’s tables, the witness stand etc.

    All documents should be exchanged by the parties and filed with the Hearing Office electronically prior to the hearing. During the hearing, documents will be presented, and exhibits will be marked electronically using Case Center.