COVID-19 and the courts: April 7 update

Today’s update for courthouses across Canada

COVID-19 and the courts: April 7 update
The Court of Appeal for Ontario in Toronto.

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

Alberta

Provincial Court of Alberta

Notice to self-represented litigants in family law matters
Given that the Intake and Caseflow Management Regulation states that self-represented individuals wishing to file an application should meet with a Family Court Counsellor, these counsellors may be reached via the phone numbers listed in the notice. Payors involved in support matters and registered with the Maintenance Enforcement Program should contact the program before reaching out to a Family Court Counsellor, to know whether alternate payment schemes can be arranged. With regard to files that are using the Caseflow Conference program, in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer, all scheduled Caseflow Conference matters are automatically adjourned for 10 weeks to the same time as the scheduled Caseflow Conference date, while Grande Prairie is maintaining the delivery of services by telephone as scheduled.

Warrant protocol
As regards warrants and other judicial authorization applications in Edmonton and Calgary, the court has developed a certain protocol and has released three documents relating to this matter: a warrant protocol, a notice to law enforcement agencies and a warrant checklist.

Ontario

Court of Appeal for Ontario

Practice Direction Regarding the Electronic Conduct of Matters During the Covid-19 Emergency
Until further notice, the court has adopted certain guidelines concerning the electronic processes utilized by the court. All matters will proceed by remote appearance or in writing, in lieu of in-person hearings. The requirements governing hard-copy document filings and oral hearings will be dispensed with. Instead, documents should be filed in an electronic format in accordance with the guidelines for filing electronic documents, subject to certain amendments, which have been listed. Documents which must be filed under seal should be password-protected. The court encourages parties to hyperlink their key factums to online judgment databases and to hyperlink the key documents referred to in their factums. At the present time, the court is not requiring counsel to gown for remote appearances.

Northwest Territories

Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories

COVID 19 Response: changes to Supreme Court proceedings and scheduling
The court has introduced changes to their directive issued on Mar. 24. As regards criminal matters, sittings outside of Yellowknife scheduled to proceed between now and June 5 have been cancelled. In Yellowknife, jury trials, judge alone trials, voir dires, which are scheduled to proceed between now and June 5 have been cancelled, while other scheduled hearings will proceed, with the accused appearing by videoconference and counsel appearing by phone, as long as the parties have agreed to this. The Supreme Court list scheduling set for May 8 will be postponed until June 5. As for civil and family matters, family hearings where witnesses are to be called and which are scheduled to proceed between now and June 5 have been cancelled. Special chambers hearings scheduled to proceed between now and June 5 which do not involve the calling of evidence may push through as long as counsel are ready to appear by phone. Judicial settlement conferences scheduled between now and June 5 have been cancelled, except if these can proceed by phone.

Court of Appeal for the Northwest Territories

COVID 19 Response: changes to Supreme Court proceedings and scheduling
The list of pending cases in the appeal court will be called on May 8. Counsel and parties will appear by telephone.

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