COVID-19 and the courts: Apr. 26, 2021 update

Today’s roundup for courthouses across Canada

COVID-19 and the courts: Apr. 26, 2021 update

Courts across Canada have been taking measures to control the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19. Below is a roundup of actions courts are taking across the country.

Federal

Federal Court of Appeal

Suspension of filing deadlines and changes to filing requirements (COVID-19)
The court restored the suspension period for filing deadlines in certain proceedings by deselecting a number of files, said a notice dated Apr. 21. The suspension period still applies as a default for all newly instituted proceedings. Parties may file a motion under Rule 369 by informal letter or by email for a selected file to be deselected and to be made subject to the suspension period, or for a deselected file to be made a selected file subject to the time limits under the Federal Court Rules, under orders or under court directions. Parties should file all documents electronically, except for confidential documents, via email until further notice. For an electronic document exceeding 25 megabytes, a party should request via email a link to an internet-based storage platform. The court continues to hear proceedings remotely via videoconference or teleconference or in writing, until public health advice permits in-person hearings. Onsite staffing levels in the court registry will still be reduced for some time.

British Columbia

Provincial Court of British Columbia

Updated NP 19 Court Operations During COVID-19
Parties should make applications for unsealing orders at the court location where the judicial authorization is filed, effective Apr. 19, as provided in the memo on updated directions for judicial authorizations at the Justice Centre. The notice also updates the parts on small claims, judicial interim release, judicial authorizations and the suspension of limitation periods.

New SM CL 02 Small Claims Proceedings During COVID-19
The court adjusted some requirements in the Small Claims Rules to facilitate certain directions and procedures, effective Apr. 19 and until the provincial state of emergency expires or is cancelled. The practice direction, applicable to all the province’s court registries, also covers the default method of hearing and appearance for small claims proceedings, as well as the timelines and processes for litigants to file required documents with the court and, in certain instances, to serve the documents.

Supreme Court of British Columbia

Supreme Court proceedings in Port Coquitlam
The court started sitting at the Port Coquitlam Courthouse for civil and family proceedings, using three courtrooms not being used by the Provincial Court, effective Apr. 19. For the time being, criminal jury trials and the court registry will remain at the New Westminster Law Courts. This change is meant to improve access to justice for residents of the Tri-Cities area amid the pandemic.

Saskatchewan

Court of Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan

Directive Update
The court postponed jury trials set to commence between May 1 and June 30, effective Apr. 19. The adjournment of the jury trials postponed because of this directive, which is applicable to all the court’s judicial centres, will be spoken to in court or via video or audio conference on the date the matter was originally scheduled for trial, unless the justice assigned to the trial directed otherwise.

Ontario

Ontario Court of Justice

Latest Announcements About Criminal Proceedings in the OCJ
The court updated on Apr. 22 its bail protocol introduced in May 2020 to clarify and reinforce the protocol’s goal of ensuring that bail proceedings are justly and efficiently addressed. Judicial officials may dispense with the procedures provided by the protocol if strict application would cause delay or an adjournment in a particular bail proceeding.

Latest Announcements About Family Proceedings in the OCJ
The court adjourned family and Child, Youth and Family Services Act trials scheduled between Apr. 26 and May 7, said the court’s state of emergency update on Apr. 21. The court commits to facilitate the conduct of proceedings via remote technology where possible.

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