COVID-19 and the courts: Jan. 24, 2022 update

This week's roundup for courthouses across Canada

COVID-19 and the courts: Jan. 24, 2022 update

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

British Columbia

Provincial Court of British Columbia

NP 19 − Court operations during COVID-19 (January 10-28, 2022)

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The court will continue all the presentation hearings relating to the Child, Family and Community Service Act as scheduled, without any change to process. But family trials and trial continuations scheduled between January 10 and January 28 will be adjourned, without parties having to make an application.

The court will adjourn rule 9.1 simplified trials scheduled between January 10 and January 28. All other small claims trials, trial continuations, and default hearings scheduled during the time frame will be adjourned, without parties having to make an application.

All custody criminal trials, trial continuations, and preliminary inquiries scheduled between January 10 and January 28 will remain on the trial list on the date scheduled. But all out of custody criminal trials, trial continuations and preliminary inquiries scheduled during the time frame will be adjourned, without parties having to make an application.

The court will proceed with all the dispositions scheduled to be virtually released between January 10 and January 28. All in-person dispositions scheduled during the time frame will remain on the hearing list on the date scheduled but will not proceed on that date unless the judge otherwise orders.

Matters related to public health and safety and the COVID-19 pandemic, including those under the Quarantine Act, Public Health Act, and similar statutes and regulations can be filed at the applicable local court registry.

All matters other than trials pending before Pemberton circuit courts will proceed in person or virtually as scheduled, while all traffic, ticket and bylaw trials scheduled between January 10 and January 28 will be adjourned for rescheduling. 

Supreme Court of British Columbia

COVID-19 Notice No. 45 – Adjournment of in-person trials and other proceedings (January 17-21, 2022)

The court will adjourn in-person civil and family proceedings scheduled to proceed during the week of January 17. But the court will proceed with all non-jury criminal matters scheduled during the said week as scheduled.

Court of Appeal for British Columbia

Videoconference court proceedings

Effective January 4, all appeal and chambers proceedings will take place remotely, unless otherwise directed. Counsel and litigants must complete and submit the updated court proceedings form at least 10 business days before the appeal hearing.

For chambers hearings, court proceedings form must be submitted together with the notice of motion, or, in the case of a responding party, together with any response to the application, at least two business days before the chambers proceeding takes place.

Manitoba

Provincial Court of Manitoba

Re: Direction to facilitate remote appearances

The presiding judge will retain the discretion to choose not to proceed remotely if the circumstances before the court are not appropriate. Given the current presumption of remote appearances for dispositions, counsel need not seek permission to appear remotely.

The court’s preference is for video appearances, whenever possible. But if an accused is in custody, counsel will have to appear by telephone and the accused will appear via video. In all other circumstances, the counsel will appear through Microsoft Teams or other video conference platforms available in the relevant court centre.

Ontario

Ontario Court of Justice

Latest announcements about Provincial Offences Act proceedings in the OCJ (January 13, 2022)

On January 10, the court made an order pursuant to s. 85 of the Provincial Offences Act extending most timelines that expire from January 1 to February 14.

Court of Appeal for Ontario

Return to remote appeal hearings, suspension of status court and purge court, and closure of public counter

Effective December 20, 2021, all appeal will proceed remotely using the Zoom platform unless otherwise directed. Status and purge courts will be suspended, and public counter services will not be available.

The court will disallow non-essential visits to the courthouse.

Gowning Not Required

Until further notice, counsel are not expected to gown for any appearances before the court.

New Brunswick

Provincial Court of New Brunswick

COVID-19 – Further updated directive of the Provincial Court of New Brunswick

Unless specified otherwise by the chief judge, any trial, including proceedings under the Motor Vehicle Act or other provincial statutes, trial continuation, sentencing hearing or other hearing, preliminary inquiry, and decision for an accused or a defendant not in custody will be adjourned to January 3, at 9:30 a.m., to set a new date.

The court will proceed with any trial, including the continuation of a trial, sentencing hearing, and decision for an accused in custody as scheduled and in-person.

The court will conduct sentencing hearing for a convicted person in custody by videoconference at the discretion of the sentencing judge, or as scheduled and in-person.

Court of Queen’s Bench of New Brunswick

Suspension of jury trials

The court will suspend all jury trials currently scheduled between January 4 and February 28. Jury trials scheduled to take place during the time frame will be rescheduled as soon as possible.

COVID-19 directive: Court operations during Level 3 of the Province of New Brunswick’s COVID-19 winter plan

The court will continue all trials and any other in-person matters in progress until they are concluded.

All scheduled criminal matters in which the accused is in custody, excluding jury trials, will be heard at the locations and on the scheduled dates unless virtual or telephone appearances are available and approved by the presiding judge. But all in-person criminal matters in which the accused is not in custody will be adjourned, unless otherwise specified by the chief justice, until the April Motions Day.

The court will also suspend jury trials until the April Motions Day. All in-person civil and family hearings will be adjourned sine die unless otherwise specified by the chief justice, on application and based on urgent circumstances.

All small claims hearings, other than those scheduled to proceed virtually or by telephone on consent of the parties, will be adjourned. All judgement debtor examinations will also be adjourned.

The court will proceed with all bankruptcy discharge hearings virtually or by way of telephone. But any bankruptcy discharge hearing requiring an in-person appearance will be adjourned.

Nova Scotia

Provincial Court of Nova Scotia and Youth Justice Court

COVID-19: Provincial Court extends suspension of in-person proceedings

The court will hear all new and scheduled matters that can be done remotely by telephone or Microsoft Teams, provided there is sufficient staff and equipment to do so. Any in-person proceedings that cannot be held virtually will be adjourned and rescheduled.

The court will continue to hear matters affecting self-represented individuals who are not in custody by telephone or video. Those who are not in custody and have upcoming in-person appearance should not come to the court, and instead contact the courthouse where their matters are scheduled.

All bail hearings will proceed virtually using Microsoft Teams, whenever possible. But during the suspension of in-person proceedings, judges in certain locations may require in-person attendance of local counsel for contested bail hearings.

Nova Scotia Supreme Court

COVID-19: Suspension of jury trials in the Supreme Court extended until Jan. 31, 2022

The court has extended the suspension of all jury trials until January 31. Affected jury trials will be rescheduled to the earliest dates available.

Members of the public who have received a jury summons requiring them to come to court for jury duty in January will be deferred to a later date.

COVID-19: Supreme Court extends modified essential services model

The court will again extend the modified essential services model in all locations until January 21. Under a modified essential services model, in-person proceedings will be limited to those deemed urgent or essential by a judge.

Prince Edward Island

Supreme Court and Court of Appeal of Prince Edward Island

Update on court operations − January 5, 2022

The court will reduce the number of in-person proceedings. Most of the matters will proceed virtually, by teleconference, or be adjourned.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador

Revised COVID-19 court scheduling for the period January 4 to January 24, 2022, inclusive

Unless otherwise notified by the court, all criminal appearances, trials, hearings, and sentencings scheduled between January 4 and January 24 for persons who are not in custody will be rescheduled three weeks from the date of the scheduled court appearance or the next court date thereafter.

The court will make full use of video and audio technology to effectively address criminal matters involving accused persons who are in custody to ensure the following matters will proceed, where possible:

  • Bail hearings;
  • Virtual appearances from correctional institutions;
  •  Sentencings;
  • Preliminary inquiries and trials;
  • Youth criminal sentence reviews.

Anyone wishing to apply for an adjournment beyond three weeks for persons who are not in custody may do so by applying to the respective court centre. The court will be available to process warrants and judicial authorizations in each region.

The court will adjourn indefinitely all civil matters set to proceed from January 4 to January 24.

All non-urgent family matters scheduled between January 4 and January 24 will be adjourned for three weeks from the scheduled court date or the next court date thereafter. Emergency or mandatory matters will proceed virtually, including, but not limited to:

  • Child or adult protection;
  • Family emergency, such as risk of removal of a child from the province.

All hearings related to the Traffic Court and Contraventions and set to proceed from January 4 to January 24 will be rescheduled three weeks from the scheduled court date or the next court date thereafter.

Any scheduled circuit matters between January 4 and January 24 will be called on the next scheduled court circuit in the respective community, unless otherwise notified. Matters before the specialty courts will proceed virtually.

Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador

Supreme Court operations for January 2022

The court will examine all criminal, civil and family matters proceeding to trial in the weeks of January 5-28 to determine if the trial can be appropriately conducted by videoconference. If so, court staff members will be in contact with the parties to make arrangements to proceed with the trial virtually. Trials that cannot proceed in this manner will be postponed unless a judge orders otherwise.

Subject to the availability of teleconferencing or videoconferencing equipment and certain

exceptions, all hearings and conferences will be held virtually. While the preference will be for all hearings and conferences to proceed virtually, where necessary the following matters may proceed in-person:

  • Criminal proceedings – bail hearings, bail review applications if the

accused is in custody, and detention reviews;

  • Family proceedings – requests for urgent relief relating to the safety of a child or parent, applications relating to medical decisions or wrongful removal of a child, applications to preserve property or assets, warrants under the Children, Youth and Families Act, and new applications under the Adult Protection Act.

A judge may, in their discretion, also direct that a matter will proceed in-person.

Court of Appeal of Newfoundland and Labrador

Court of Appeal operations

The court will revert to virtual hearings scheduled between January 4 and January 24 unless parties are notified otherwise. Appeals and applications will be heard by way of videoconference or teleconference for scheduled matters.

The court registry will remain open to the public. But public access is limited to one person at a time.

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