COVID-19 and the courts: July 13 update

Today’s update for courthouses across Canada

COVID-19 and the courts: July 13 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.


Federal Court

COVID-19 Order: Update #5 (amended)
The order dated June 25 was amended on July 9. There is a two-week buffer period before the expiry of the extension of the timelines for document filings and taking other procedural steps. Timelines will start running again on July 14. The court has vacated the requirement to file, after the end of the suspension period, printed copies of affidavits e-filed during such suspension period.

British Columbia

Provincial Court of British Columbia

Update to Provincial Court Registry Services
Effective July 13, the court’s registries will be permitting filings done either in person or remotely via mail, email, fax or Court Services Online.

Circuit Courts - Update
The notice lists the scheduled matters that can move forward on the day originally scheduled, either in person or via audio-conference, as well as the matters that have been adjourned.

Supreme Court of British Columbia

COVID-19 notice no. 35 – Expansion of court operations – Remote video conference hearings
Effective July 7, the court has offered the option to avail of a remote video conference using Microsoft Teams. The notice describes the matters that are eligible for this option, the minimum technical standards and the procedures and documents required.

COVID-19 notice no. 34 - Expansion of court operations - In-person registry services
Effective July 13, registries will open for in-person services, and certain processes — namely, for making applications by written submissions and for making chambers applications by telephone — will be amended.

COVID-19 notice no. 33 - Expansion of court operations - Criminal proceedings
Effective July 13, the interim process for requests for the hearing of urgent or essential matters will be discontinued. Regular processes will resume, except as provided in the notice. In-person trials and hearings will be scheduled in courthouses and courtrooms that adhere to public health directives and which are appropriately staffed. For non-trial appearances, most of these will proceed via telephone or video, unless the court directs otherwise.

Court of Appeal for British Columbia

Notice to the Public Regarding the Court of Appeal for British Columbia’s Response to COVID-19 (updated July 7)
The court is extending the suspension of service and filing deadlines from July 13 to July 27. Effective July 13, the court will commence accommodating appeal hearings held in person or via video-conference, subject to the limitations stated in the notice.

Court of Appeal registry counter opening 13 July 2020
Effective July 13, the court’s registry counter will open to the public. The notice lists the requirements for filing on or before July 13 and the requirements for filing on or after July 14.

Updated notice to the public - Videoconference proceedings
The court proceedings form has been updated to ask litigants and their counsel to choose their preferred mode of hearing.

Updated notice to the public - Access to Court of Appeal proceedings
Persons interested in observing an appeal hearing should consult the court’s weekly hearing list to know whether the hearing will take place in person or by video-conference, teleconference or other means. For hearings held via video-conference, the court continues to post public links on the list.


Notice to the Profession and the Public - Wearing Masks in Courthouses
The notice applies to the Provincial Court, the Court of Queen’s Bench and the Court of Appeal. Everyone entering a courthouse in the province should wear a face mask while in public areas, subject to certain exceptions, which include children under two years of age, persons with a medical condition or disability that inhibits wearing a mask, persons who are unable to wear or remove a mask without assistance and persons who are eating or drinking at a courthouse facility.

Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta

Guidelines for documents filed by email or digital upload
These guidelines aim to promote the effective receipt, handling, management and use of documents filed via email or digital upload.

Protection orders on notice and Family Docket Court
Effective immediately, any applications on notice for restraining orders or protection orders may proceed directly to Family Chambers even without attending first in Family Docket Court. The clerk’s office can furnish the Family Chambers date. When filing the application and supporting affidavit, one should observe the email filing instructions and serve the documents on the opposing party.

Court of Appeal of Alberta

Notice to the profession and public - Electronic hearings - Update for attendance and resource reminders
Effective July 16, electronic hearings via videoconference and audioconference will be open to counsel, self-represented litigants, the media and the public.

Notice to the profession and public - New procedure for electronic hearings - Confidentiality or privacy concerns
Before an electronic hearing takes place, one should complete a confidentiality or privacy concerns form. Because these audio-conference and video-conference proceedings can be accessed by the public, filling the form will enable counsel to give advance notice to the court of any privacy or confidentiality concerns.

Notice to the profession and public - Update on appellate judicial dispute resolution and bar admissions
Until further notice, all judicial dispute resolutions will proceed electronically through a confidential online video conference, and bar admissions will proceed electronically through a public online video conference.


Ontario Court of Justice

Notice to the Profession and the Public re: Criminal Trials and Preliminary Inquiries and Family Trials, Summary Judgment Motions and other In-Person Family Matters Resuming in the Ontario Court of Justice at Guelph on July 7, 2020
On July 4, the court said that the planned resumption of criminal trials and preliminary inquiries, family trials, summary judgment hearings and other in-person family matters in the Guelph courthouses would be delayed. On July 6, the court announced that the required health and safety measures were in place, so the resumption of these matters could push through on July 7.

Notice Regarding Public and Media Access to Ontario Court of Justice Proceedings during the COVID-19 Pandemic (Revised July 4, 2020)
The public and the media may attend court proceedings but should take note of certain restrictions imposed by court orders or legislation or by reason of technological limitations.

Court of Appeal for Ontario

Notice Regarding Videoconference Appearance Technology (Zoom)
Effective July 6, the court has started using Zoom to accommodate remote appearances via videoconference. The notice includes best practices for participating in these Zoom hearings and information for members of the public and the media who are interested in observing a hearing conducted via Zoom.

Nova Scotia

Small Claims, Bankruptcy and Probate Court

COVID-19: Small Claims Court expanding services
Effective July 8, the court has started accepting non-urgent filings and hearing more matters via telephone. The court permits the filing of notices of claim, taxations and residential tenancy appeals documents by mail or via drop boxes.

Nova Scotia Supreme Court

COVID-19: Preparing for virtual court hearings in Supreme Court
The court has provided guidance on how to properly participate in virtual court hearings, which are available for many civil, criminal and family matters. These hearings are conducted by telephone, video or communication platforms like Skype, or a combination of these methods.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador

COVID-19 Notice to the Profession and the Public - Information Regarding Anticipated Attendees
Until further notice, only participants in court proceedings, counsel, a single support person per party and the media can enter the St. John’s General Division courthouse. At least five days before making an appearance, these persons should complete the in-person appearance and COVID-19 questionnaire.

Northwest Territories

Territorial Court of the Northwest Territories

Changes to Territorial Court sittings and matters before Justices of the Peace due to COVID-19
The update on July 6 states that counsel can generally appear in person, remotely or through an agent, but if the proceedings are scheduled to occur in Yellowknife at a location other than the courthouse building, remote appearances are not feasible.

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