Federal Court of Appeal Electronic Filing System

E-Filing Guide

The purpose of this guide

This guide is a reference tool to assist parties in preparing electronic documents for use at the Federal Court of Appeal. It does not contain additional rules about e-filing. It does not contain legal advice, but it is provided as a courtesy.

The Federal Courts Rules [the Rules] prescribe the general format of Court documents. The Rules apply whether you choose to file paper or electronic documents. The Court’s Consolidated Practice Direction provides requirements and guidance specific to the Federal Court of Appeal and should be consulted, too.
You will need access to a computer, a web browser, and an internet connection in order to use the e-filing system. The e-filing system is not compatible with certain older web browsers. In order to prepare documents, you likely use word processing software. A PDF editor may be helpful, as well.

Formatting your documents for e-filing

Option 1: Convert a word-processed document to PDF

You may convert a word-processed document (a document produced in a program such as Microsoft Word, LibreOffice Writer, Google Docs, etc.) directly into PDF format using the word-processing program itself, rather than printing and scanning.

This method often makes the document more searchable and yields the highest quality and accuracy in text recognition.

Many word processing software programs include a built-in “Save as PDF” functionality. This means that you do not need any special software or plug-ins to create PDF versions of your typed documents.

As an example, the basic steps in Microsoft Word would be:

  1. Open “Save-as” from the drop-down menu.
  2. Where the new window says “Save-as type” select PDF as your file type.
  3. Give your document a name.
  4. Select where you want to save your document.
  5. Click “Save.”
  6. You should now have a PDF copy of your document.

Please avoid using security features in your PDF documents that restrict the viewing, printing, or searching of your documents.

Option 2: Convert a word processing document to PDF using the “Print to PDF” function

Similar to printing to a printer, “Print to PDF” allows you to “print” a copy of your document in PDF. This process uses a virtual printer to generate a digital PDF file, as opposed to a printed page from a physical printer.

Some PDF software will install a virtual PDF printer add-in to your word processor. This means that when you use the standard “Print” tool in any program, you will be able to select an option to “Print to PDF.” Please consult the online help materials for your specific software for details.

Some versions of both Windows and Mac operating systems also include pre-installed “Print to PDF” options.

Most users will be able to generate a PDF from a digital image file by:

  1. Opening the file to print.
  2. Launching the “Print” function from the program menu.
  3. Selecting the relevant “Print to PDF” from the drop-down list of printers.
  4. Checking the printer settings to ensure that the output is Letter size.
  5. Selecting a location to save the file.

Option 3: Printing a physical copy of your document and then scanning it to PDF

If the previous options are not possible, it is possible to use a scanner to digitize physical documents. Please consult your scanner’s manual for instructions on how to scan your documents to PDF.

When scanning a physical document, consider the following:

  • resolution of the scanned digital file;
  • size of the scanned digital file; and
  • OCR (for documents with text).

A document’s resolution — an indication of its quality — is usually expressed in “pixels per inch” (ppi) or “dots per inch (dpi).” Most scanners generate documents with resolutions ranging between 75 and 1200 ppi (and even higher for high-end scanners used for digital photography). Generally, the higher the resolution, the greater the file size of the digital document and the higher the quality of the document.

Documents should use the lowest resolution that produces clear, legible writing. 300 dpi or ppi is a good option.

Digital files submitted to the Federal Court of Appeal should be searchable. This means that text can be selected with a cursor; and that users can search for keywords within the document using the “Search” or “Find” tools in their PDF software. To make a document searchable, you might use technology called Optical Character Recognition [OCR].

There are two ways to use OCR to create searchable PDF documents:

  1. using OCR capabilities on a physical scanner; or
  2. using OCR capabilities in PDF software.

Many scanners feature an internal OCR function to create a searchable PDF. However, the quality and reliability of the OCR scan will vary depending on the scanner’s hardware and software limitations.

For this reason, you might wish to use a software program to make your PDF files searchable. The OCR features in commercial PDF software generally produce more consistent results than those created by physical scanners. You might need to experiment with the options available to you to see what produces the best results.

Generally, OCR works best with original documents. For instance, this means:

  • Reducing the number of times a document is photocopied. Text degrades with each photocopy, which interferes with the technology’s ability to recognize text.
  • If possible, converting a typed document to PDF using the software with which you created that document.

Please read the help materials provided with your particular model of scanner, hardware, and/or software for detailed instructions as needed.

As an example, the basic steps to apply OCR in the PDF-XChange Editor program are:

  1. Open your PDF document in the PDF-XChange Editor program.
  2. Navigate to the “Convert” menu.
  3. Select “OCR Page(s).”
  4. Under page range, select “All.”
  5. Click “OK.”

You may test the quality of the OCR conversion by doing the following:

  • Try using the search function to find a set of keywords in your document.
    1. To use the search function, press both the “Ctrl” and “F” key on your keyboard.
    2. When a search dialog box pops up, enter the keyword(s) you wish to search for.
    3. Press “Enter” on your keyboard.
    4. If the document has had OCR applied, the program should highlight the first instance of the keyword that you searched for.
    5. If your document does not contain the keyword, a dialog box should appear to indicate this.
    6. If your document contains the keyword but your search function does not highlight the word, OCR has likely not been applied. You may wish to attempt the process again.
  • Try selecting a portion of text, copying it, and pasting it into a blank document. If the pasted text is legible and accurate, your OCR scan succeeded.

There are various methods to perform an OCR scan in a PDF document. You may wish to consult the online help materials for your particular software for details.

Creating bookmarks

You might want to use a digital bookmark in your PDF document wherever you would place a physical tab in a paper document.

When creating bookmarks, try navigating through your document and ask yourself whether it would be helpful to have bookmarks to certain sections for quick reference. In most PDF software, bookmarks are displayed as a clickable outline in a sidebar next to the page being displayed. This allows users to navigate quickly to the bookmarked page.

Each software has its own method for adding and modifying bookmarks. You may wish to consult the online help materials for your particular software for details.

Naming your bookmarks

When you use bookmarks, you might want to use a naming convention, such as:

  • Tab [number or letter] – [a brief descriptive title]

For additional bookmarks, consider adding brief, descriptive titles that will allow the reader to navigate your PDF document easily.

Automate bookmarks using software

If you use the “Styles” function in Microsoft Word to manage your document’s headings (located under the “Home” tab of the ribbon), you can automatically convert these headings into bookmarks in the PDF document.

There are two ways to automate bookmarks:

  1. Some software plug-ins (e.g. Adobe Acrobat Pro) are able to convert document headings into bookmarks in the resulting PDF. Please refer to the help materials for your software for more details.
  2. You can use the built-in “Save As Type (PDF)” option in Microsoft Word (Windows only) to generate bookmarks in the PDF file based on the document headings.

To access this feature in Microsoft Word, try the following:

  1. Select “File”, followed by “Save As…”
  2. Choose where you would like to save your document.
  3. Once the panel appears prompting you to choose a file name, open the drop-down menu labelled “Save As Type”. Select “PDF”.
  4. Once you select “PDF”, a button labelled “Options…” will appear below the drop-down menu. Select “Options…” to open the Options dialog box.
  5. Check the box next to “Create bookmarks using,” and ensure that “Headings” is selected.
  6. Click “OK” to close the Options dialog box, and click “Save”.

For more details, you may wish to consult the online help materials for your word processor and your PDF software.

A hyperlink (also simply called a “link”) is text that, when clicked, will take your reader to:

  • another section within your document; or
  • an online resource (such as a website).

Including hyperlinks will help readers, including parties and the Court, to navigate the document more effectively before, during, and after a hearing.

Each software has its own unique method for adding and modifying hyperlinks. Consult the online help materials for your particular software for details.

Creating internal hyperlinks within your PDF document

When selected, an internal hyperlink brings a reader to another location within your document. Internal hyperlinks might allow your reader to:

  • easily navigate from your table of contents to sections of your written submissions; and
  • navigate from internal citations to footnotes or in-text references in your document with one click.

You may wish to consult your specific PDF editor program’s documentation for more specific instructions on how to create internal hyperlinks.

Hyperlink to authorities cited in written submissions

You may also use hyperlinks to case law and legislative authorities whenever online copies of these authorities are available. Please link to both French and English versions of legislation and regulations whenever they are available. Links can point to one of the publicly available databases listed below:

Hyperlinks to paid caselaw databases may not always work once they are uploaded to the Court’s e-filing system.

When possible, you might want your hyperlinks to link directly to the relevant provisions of legislation and regulations.

You might also use hyperlinks where it will assist the reader in navigating the document. Hyperlinking between separate documents is not advisable, however, because such links will not function once the document is uploaded to the Court’s e-filing system.

How to create a hyperlink which directs your reader a specific provision

It is possible to create a hyperlink that leads directly to a specific section of an Act or Regulation using anchor tags. Anchor tags allow you to link to specific locations inside documents.

To create a hyperlink using an anchor tag to specific section:

  1. Navigate to the specific Act or Regulation that you will be referring to on the appropriate Federal or Provincial website.
  2. Copy the web address (also known as the URL) for the Act or Regulation.
  3. Paste the URL, then type in the corresponding anchor tag and section number, based on the chart below:
    Jurisdiction Anchor Tag Format Example:
    Federal #s- Example
    British Columbia #section Example
    Manitoba # Example
    Ontario #s Example
    Québec #se: Example
    New Brunswick /#codese: Example
    Newfoundland and Labrador #[section number]_ Example
    Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut These provinces and territories do not use anchor tags. You may link to the applicable law on the provincial/territorial website or on CanLII.

  4. Copy the URL, anchor tag and section number. This is your hyperlink address.
  5. In your document, highlight the text where you want your link to appear.
  6. Right-click on the highlighted text and select “Hyperlink” from the menu.
  7. In the “Address” field, paste your hyperlink address.
  8. Click “OK.”
  9. Be sure to test your hyperlink to make sure that it points to the correct section.

Instructions for some common formatting tasks are set out below.

Adding page numbers

Page numbers and tables of contents help your reader to navigate your documents. Some documents include tabs to organize document groups and allow cross-referencing between documents. Where the Rules prescribe a specific page-or paragraph-numbering practice, it is a good idea to follow that practice when possible.

Where a particular numbering scheme is not required by the Rules, you might do one or several of the following to help make your document easy to navigate:

  • Number all documents in the submission package (e.g. an application record) using a single, continuous numbering scheme (the numbers do not restart in each tab).
  • Include a table of contents.
  • Number all “lead” documents in the group (e.g. the affidavit) and any related documents (e.g. exhibits) using a multi-level numbering scheme (e.g., A-1 to A-7, B-1 to B-44, C-1 to C-5, etc.), along with a table of contents for the entire group.

The numbering on an e-filed electronic version and a paper version of a document should be the same.

You may add page numbers in your word processing software before converting your document to a PDF or after you have converted the document to a PDF.

Adding page numbers in Microsoft Word

To add page numbers in a word processor such as Microsoft Word:

  1. At the top of the screen, navigate to the “Insert” menu.
  2. Select the “Page Number” pull-down menu, and from there, select the location of your page number.

Adding page numbers in PDF-XChange editor

To add page numbers in a PDF editor, such as PDF-XChange Editor:

  1. At the top of your screen, navigate to the “Organize” menu.
  2. Select the “Number Pages” pull-down menu.
  3. Select your page numbering options.
  4. Click “OK.”
Assigning a colour to your cover pages

Certain PDF editors will allow you to add colour cover pages to your PDF document.

The following table summarizes the cover page colours for certain paper documents regularly filed in the Federal Court of Appeal.

Document Colour Rule
Appeal Book Grey 344(1.1)
Appellant’s Memorandum Beige 346(4)(a)
Respondent’s Memorandum Green 346(4)(b)
Intervener’s Memorandum Blue 346(4)(c)
Joint Book of Authorities Burgundy 348(4)(a)
Appellant’s Book of Authorities Beige 348(4)(b)
Respondent’s Book of Authorities Green 348(4)(b)
Intervener’s Book of Authorities Blue 348(4)(b)

The basic steps to add colour cover pages in a PDF editor such as PDF-XChange Editor are:

  1. Navigate to the page that you wish to use as a cover page.
  2. At the top of your screen, navigate to the “Organize” menu.
  3. Click the “Background” pull-down menu.
  4. Select “Manage.”
  5. Select “Add…”
  6. Under “Source” click “From Color” and then select the desired colour.
  7. Under page range, select “Current Page.”
  8. Click “OK.”
  9. Repeat for the other cover page of your document.

Please consult your PDF editor’s documentation for specific instructions.

Adjusting the resolution of scanned documents

When using a physical scanner, it will often have an “Options” menu that allows you to set the resolution of your scanned documents. A resolution of 300dpi is a good option. Overall, a good rule of thumb is to use a resolution that allows the best document quality at the smallest document size.

If you have both a PDF editor and scanner configured to work together, you can often configure your optimal scanning settings through the PDF editor.

To configure your optimal scanning settings in a PDF editor such as PDF-XChange Editor:

  1. From the top of your screen, select the “Convert” menu.
  2. Select the “Scan” pull-down menu.
  3. Select “Configure presets”.
  4. From the menu on the left side of the new window, select “Scanner presets.”
  5. Choose your scanner’s name under “Parameters.”
  6. Next to the word “Resolution,” select your desired document resolution (300dpi or 300ppi).
  7. Click “OK.”

You may wish to refer to your PDF editor’s documentation for specific instructions.

Deactivating security features

It is a good practice to disable security features that restrict the viewing, printing or searching of PDF documents.

As an example, to disable security features in a document in PDF-XChange Editor:

  1. At the top of your screen, select the “Protect” menu.
  2. Select “Security Properties.”
  3. Next to the words “Security Method” select “No Security.”
  4. Click “OK.”

You may wish to refer to your PDF editor’s documentation for specific instructions.

Removing hidden text, marks, and annotations

You may want to remove any mark-ups, hidden text, and comments from your document before finalizing it for e-filing. Before converting your document to a PDF, try to turn off any track-changes or editing mark-ups and remove any comments. This applies equally to any annotations you have made in either the word processor copy of the document or the PDF of the document.

Using a security scan

Most commercially available anti-virus programs will allow you to scan your document for computer viruses and malware. It is a good practice to run your document through an anti-virus and anti-malware scan before submitting the document for e-filing.

Allowing comments and mark-ups in a document

It is a good practice to check your document security features in your PDF editor to ensure that you have enabled comments and mark-ups in the document. In PDF-XChange Editor, for example:

  1. At the top of your screen, select the “Protect” menu.
  2. Select “Security Properties.”
  3. Next to the words “Security Method” ensure the words “No Security” are selected.
  4. Next to the word “Commenting” ensure that the word “Allowed” is present.
  5. Click “OK.”
Reducing your file size

The e-filing system will accept documents up to 100 MB in size, however smaller documents are usually easier to handle and consume less storage space. To reduce the size of your PDF, consider using a lower resolution.

Here are some basic principles to help you manage the resolution and size of PDF documents:

  • Colour documents and photos are much larger than black-and-white documents and photos. Consider if using colour is necessary.
  • Text documents can usually be scanned at much lower resolutions than photographs.
  • Not all pages in a document are the same size. Pages with images, graphics, and charts are often much larger than pages containing only text.

If your digital files are too large for submission via the e-filing portal, try either of the following:

  • Lower the resolution of the documents.
  • Use your PDF software to compress the digital file. In most software, you can do this by clicking on “File” -> “Save As” and selecting the option to “compress” or “reduce file size”. Depending on your software, you can search the online help materials for one of the following terms:
    • "compress file size”; or
    • “save as reduced size”.

If you still cannot reduce your file size below 100 MB, you may need to split your submissions into multiple volumes. If you are doing this, please ensure that you:

  • include a covering letter that informs the Court that you are splitting your submissions into multiple volumes, including the number of volumes;
  • if you are splitting a record into multiple volumes, clearly mark the volume number (e.g. “Volume X of Y”) on both the front and back covers; and
  • include a complete table of contents in each volume.

Please consult the documentation specific to your PDF editor for further details.

Combining multiple PDFs into a single PDF

There are various methods to compile multiple PDF files into a single PDF. You might want to consult the online help materials for your particular software for details.

If you are preparing a document with multiple tabs, consider the following method:

  1. For each tab, compile the contents into one PDF document.
  2. Give each PDF document a descriptive name starting with “Tab 1…”, “Tab 2…”, etc.
  3. Compile these PDF documents into one single PDF document.

The advantage of this method is that most software will automatically insert a bookmark at the beginning of each tab. If you have named each tab, the software will often automatically name the bookmark according to the tab name. This may save you the time required to insert and name bookmarks manually.

The e-filing process

Uploading your documents to the e-filing portal is simple and only requires a few easy steps.

Each page contains easy-to-follow instructions. Where needed, certain pages may contain additional tips and guidance.

You may use the e-filing portal for almost all proceedings in the Federal Court of Appeal; however it is strongly recommended that you contact the Registry if you need to file a document in an urgent matter.

Although the e-filing portal allows you to mark documents as “Urgent,” submitting a document for e-filing does not guarantee that it will be processed immediately.

Parties with urgent matters are responsible for contacting the Registry to make special arrangements.

The e-filing portal is free to use, however parties still need to pay regular court fees (also called “tariffs” or “filing fees”) when filing certain documents. When Tariff A specifies a fee for the issuance or filing of a document, the fee is necessary (see Rule 71.1(1)(b)). You might want to check the Tariff to see if your document has an associated filing fee.

The e-filing portal allows the Registry to send you a request to pay a filing fee. The request is sent by email after the Registry has reviewed your document. It is also possible to pay a filing fee by contacting a Registry Office. Keep your court file number (if one has been assigned) and filing confirmation number on hand, as you may need them. Fees can be paid by using most major credit cards. Payment may also be made at a local Registry counter.

The acceptance of your filing is normally conditional on you paying any applicable filing fee. Failure to pay a mandatory filing fee could result in your document being removed from the court file.

In certain extenuating circumstances it is possible to ask for the Court’s permission (leave) to waive a filing fee. This waiver is not automatic and there is no guarantee it will be granted. To request a fee waiver, it is a good practice to make a clear request in writing to the Court.

All filing deadlines apply to e-filing.

If you miss a filing deadline, you may need to request an extension of time and explain why you missed the deadline. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that an extension will be granted.

After you submit a document to the e-filing portal, a Registry Officer will review it.

If your electronic document appears to meet the requirements of the Rules, it will normally be accepted for filing. This acceptance is conditional on any required filing fees being paid.

If you e-file a document on a holiday, it will be deemed filed the next day that is not a holiday. The meaning of holiday is defined in the Federal Courts Rules and includes Saturdays and Sundays.

If a Registry Officer has concerns about whether your electronic filing complies with the applicable Rules, a few things can happen. The Officer can ask you to modify the document. You can modify the document and then re-submit the new document as long as the deadline has not expired. The Registry Officer can also refer the document to a judge who can decide whether the Court should accept your document, reject your document, or conditionally accept your document if you fulfill certain conditions.

If the Court rejects your document, you will need to resubmit the document with modifications made or, if the deadline has passed, request an extension of time.

If you resubmit a document and it is accepted, it will be deemed to be filed on the date that you resubmitted it. Because of this, it is wise to avoid filing a document at the last minute. The same principles apply to a paper filing. If you file a paper document that does not comply with the Rules, the Court may reject that document and have it removed from the Court file.

It is your responsibility as the party filing a document to make sure that your document is filed on time.

How will I know if my document was accepted and filed?

After you submit your documents, you will receive an initial e-mail confirmation of your submission. This initial e-mail does not mean your document has been accepted for filing. It just means the Court received your document.

Once a Registry Officer has reviewed your filing, you will receive another e-mail either:

  • confirming that your document has been filed;
  • notifying you that your submission appears to need a minor modification and asking you to make the modification;
  • notifying you that your submission appears to need modification and has been referred to a judge for direction; or
  • asking you to pay a filing fee.

Please do not use the e-filing portal to file confidential documents

If there is a confidentiality order or direction in your proceeding, you should not file your documents using the e-filing portal. Instead, contact the Registry to make filing arrangements. You might also want to consult Rules 151, 152 and the Court's consolidated practice direction to learn more about confidential documents.

For technical questions, you may wish to consult the user guides that correspond to the computer programs that you are using.

If, after consulting your user guides, the Federal Courts Rules, the Court’s website, and this Guide, you still have questions, you may contact your local Registry office.

Registry Officers can answer certain general procedural questions, but they cannot give legal advice. They may be able to answer basic questions, but they cannot provide detailed walk-throughs or tech support.

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