COVID-19 and the courts: Aug. 17 update

Today’s update for courthouses across Canada

COVID-19 and the courts: Aug. 17 update

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.

British Columbia

Provincial Court of British Columbia

Revised Practice Direction NP 23 Circuit Court Sittings during COVID-19
The practice direction, revised on Aug. 7, provides updates on the locations and manner of hearing for matters currently scheduled. These matters will move forward either in person or via audio-conference.

Supreme Court of British Columbia

Revisions to COVID-19 Notice No. 34 - Expansion of court operations - In-person registry services
The court has amended the notice to give an update regarding the suspension of mandatory limitation periods in provincial enactments and laws. The suspension of periods is scheduled to end 90 days following the date on which the most recent declaration of a state of emergency has expired or has been cancelled.


Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta

Extension of Trial Triage Booking into Fall Sittings
The court announced an extension of trial triage booking for family, civil and commercial short trials and full-day specials into the fall sitting from Sept. 8 to Dec. 18. The court is prioritizing matters scheduled to be heard between Mar. 16 and June 26 which were adjourned because of the pandemic. In Edmonton, where there are fewer available slots, the court is giving additional priority to urgent trials.


Provincial Court of Manitoba

Notice - Additional Trial Dates Added to the Court's Website
For the next six months, the court has decided to repurpose a youth court trial date into adult trial days, with these additional dates provided on the court’s website.

Notice - Suspension and Re-Opening of Additional Courts - St. Theresa Point
Effective Aug. 12, court sittings in St. Theresa Point have resumed, with the court hearing in-custody and out-of-custody trials and dispositions. Matters previously scheduled for Aug. 12 and thereafter will move forward on their booked dates. Only individuals required for the proceedings can attend court, as the court remains closed to the general public. Court users should cooperate with the safety protocols in place. Counsel should inform their clients that only those who have something meaningful occurring can visit the court, with a maximum of two support people accompanying them when a meaningful event occurs. For bail applications and straightforward dispositions which are expected to take 30 minutes or less, counsel may opt to appear via teleconference.


Ontario Court of Justice

COVID-19: Scheduling of Family Matters in the Ontario Court of Justice
The notice describes how family law proceedings in the court will be scheduled and conducted. Lawyers and members of the public should refrain from visiting the courthouses unless they are scheduled to appear in court or unless they cannot electronically file family court documents relating to a scheduled family law matter. Effective Aug. 6, filing options include filing electronically using Family Submissions Online, emailing to the appropriate courthouse or appearing in person at the courthouse.

Notice to the Legal Profession and the Public regarding the process of electronically submitting documents at the Ontario Court of Justice
The notice gives instructions for filing requests or documents via email for criminal matters and for electronically filing requests or documents for family matters. The court is offering these electronic filing options to reduce the necessity to appear in person at the courthouses to file documents.

New Brunswick

Court of Queen’s Bench of New Brunswick

COVID-19 Directive issued on August 11, 2020 with respect to the filing of documents
Effective Aug. 15, the court’s trial division and family division are resuming the filing of documents pursuant to the New Brunswick Rules of Court. For the Small Claims Court, filing will recommence pursuant to the Small Claims Act Regulation. Those filing can also utilize the secure drop boxes which are located in designated places at each courthouse. Electronic filing via email is limited for cases in which there are extenuating circumstances, subject to the advanced approval by the clerk’s office.

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