COVID-19 and the courts: Apr. 4, 2022 update

This week's roundup for courthouses across Canada

COVID-19 and the courts: Apr. 4, 2022 update

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

British Columbia

Supreme Court of British Columbia
Notice No. 45 - Resumption of in-person trials and other proceedings  (Apr. 4-8, 2022)

The court will continue to hear all in-person civil, family, and criminal proceedings scheduled from Apr. 4 to Apr. 8.

Alberta

Court of Appeal of Alberta

Electronic hearings extended to Apr. 29, 2022

The court will hear all appeal sittings, three‑judge panel applications, and bar admissions electronically until Apr. 29. While appeal conferences, judicial dispute resolutions, and single judge cases will be heard remotely until further notice.

Ontario

Ontario Court of Justice

Interim guidelines re mode of appearance for Ontario Court of Justice criminal proceedings

The court established interim guidelines for modes of appearance in criminal proceedings. These guidelines will take effect on Apr. 4.

For first appearances, the court will require an accused to appear through videoconference or audioconference unless otherwise directed.

The accused should appear through videoconference for contested bail hearings unless otherwise instructed. If video appearance is not available, the accused must appear in person. 

For special bail hearings, the mode of appearance will be directed by the presiding judicial officer following discussion of the matter. Appearances for special bail conferences should be through videoconference unless otherwise ordered.

For consent releases and remands, the accused may attend by videoconference or audioconference unless otherwise directed. The mode of appearance for judicial pre-trials should be through videoconference unless otherwise instructed.

The court will require an accused to attend in person for plea court proceedings unless the judge orders otherwise. All participants in preliminary and trial proceedings should appear in person unless a judge directs otherwise.

All applicants and informants involved in intake court proceedings may appear in person, but remote processes will remain an alternative option for consent bail variations, private prosecutions, and private s. 810 applications.

Scheduling of family matters in the Ontario Court of Justice (Mar. 18, 2022)

Effective Apr. 4 and until further notice, the mode of appearance for all initial case conferences, continuing case conferences, settlement conferences, combined conferences, and trials relating to the Family Law Act, Children’s Law Reform Act and other domestic family proceedings will be in person unless otherwise directed by the judge.

The court will require parties to appear virtually for all other proceedings, such as first appearances, trial management conferences, motions, and trial audits.

The mode of appearance for first hearings, first appearances, case conferences, settlement conferences, combined conferences, motions, trials, and adoptions under the Child, Youth, and Family Services Act, should be in person unless otherwise instructed by the judge.

Parties should attend virtually for all other proceedings, such as trial management conferences and audits.

Court of Appeal for Ontario

Court of Appeal for Ontario to begin hearing appeals and panel motions in person

Effective Apr. 4, the court will proceed to hear appeals and panel motions in person.

Inmate appeals will also be heard in person. Until further notice, inmates will continue to appear through videoconference. Single motions and purge and status court proceedings will be heard remotely until further notice.

In-person attendance will be limited to individuals making oral submissions and a maximum of two additional individuals per party. All other individuals, including members of the public and media, will be allowed to attend hearings through Zoom.

The court also revised the standard wording for the surrender condition in release orders pending appeal, given the return to in-person hearings.

Nova Scotia

Provincial Court of Nova Scotia and Youth Justice Court

Provincial Court to lift the suspension of fine payments for summary offence convictions 

Starting Apr. 1, the court will lift the suspension of fine payments for summary offence convictions. Thus, individuals who receive summary offence tickets from Apr. 1 onwards will be expected to pay the associated fine by the date indicated on their ticket unless they notify the court of their intention to appear before the judge and plead not guilty.

Individuals with outstanding tickets since Mar. 16, 2020, will receive correspondence indicating the summary offence they were charged with, the fine associated with the charge, and the new deadline to pay the fine. Until the fine is satisfied, the Registry of Motor Vehicles may refuse to renew their ’driver’s license or vehicle permit.

Nova Scotia Supreme Court

COVID-19 accommodations in the Supreme Court will end on Apr. 4, 2022

Beginning Apr. 4, the court will end all the temporary accommodations that have been put in place since the outset of the pandemic. These temporary accommodations currently allow the commissioning of virtual affidavits and authorize personal service to be effected by email.

However, the court will continue to operate under a safe services model until further notice. Under the safe services model, counsel and parties no longer need to establish that a matter is urgent or essential for the court to proceed in person.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador

Supreme Court operations for general division and family division judicial centres (Apr. 4-Apr. 29, 2022)

The court may hear in-person criminal, civil, and family trials scheduled between Apr. 4 and Apr. 29.

All other hearings set to be heard virtually will proceed as scheduled. Hearings scheduled to be heard in person may also proceed but are subject to assessment by the court staff.

The court will not schedule new in-person hearings between Apr. 4 and Apr. 29 unless deemed urgent. Urgent matters include:

  • Criminal Proceedings – bail hearings, bail review applications of accused in custody and detention reviews
  • Family Proceedings – requests for urgent relief relating to the safety of a child or parent, applications concerning medical decisions or wrongful removal of a child, applications to preserve property or assets, warrants under the Children, Youth and Families Act and applications under the Adult Protection Act

Other matters that a judge determines to be urgent may also be heard in person, while conferences will be heard virtually.

Northwest Territories

Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories

Directives regarding Supreme Court proceedings

Until further notice, people within the court vicinity are still required to wear face masks.

Participants may remove their masks to address the court as part of the proceedings.

StartingMay 2, the court will resume hearing criminal trials in person. Applications to appear by telephone or videoconference must be made before the appearance date and explain why the request is being made.

The accused in custody should appear in person for pre-trial motions, trials, and sentencing hearings. They may only appear by videoconference for other criminal matters.

The court will hear all pre-trial conferences through teleconference unless counsel requests an in-person hearing. Pre-trial conferences with self-represented accused will be heard in person.

The court will proceed with all family and civil trials in person. But the presiding judge may allow counsel or parties to appear by teleconference.

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