This week’s roundup for courthouses across Canada
Courts across Canada have been taking measures to control the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19. Below is a roundup of actions courts are taking across the country.
NP 21: Virtual Proceedings and Remote Attendance in the Provincial Court
The notice, revised on July 15, defines “virtual(ly)” as describing the type of court-designated proceeding conducted via telephone or via the Microsoft Teams audio- and video-conferencing platform and defines “remote(ly)” as describing the court user’s way of attending an in-person or virtual court proceeding via telephone or Microsoft Teams. For video conference proceedings, the notice clarifies that inappropriate profiles or background images cannot be used and that a smartphone should be flipped horizontally to enable landscape mode for full headshot displays. For both audio conference and video conference proceedings, smoking and vaping are banned.
Notice to the profession and public - COVID-19 - Return to in-person hearings
The court will recommence in-person proceedings for all appeal sittings and for applications before three-judge panels, effective Nov. 1, and will release a separate notice discussing the way that the court will conduct applications before a single judge, appeal conferences, appellate judicial dispute resolution and bar admissions after Nov. 1. The court advised parties with appeals or applications before three-judge panels set to be electronically heard in September and October but who would prefer an in-person hearing after Nov. 1 to submit a rescheduling request to the case management officer. These requests will depend on the availability of hearing dates.
Provincial Court Issues Re-opening Notice
All permanent court points and most circuit court points have resumed regular sitting schedules, with hygiene stations and physical barriers still in place at all court facilities. Court users may wear a mask except if a judge or a deputy sheriff requests the mask’s removal for security screening purposes.
Queen’s Bench Updates COVID-19 Protocols
Court participants do not need to wear masks to enter a courthouse, but the presiding judge may still require the wearing of masks and the maintenance of physical distance in a courtroom. The court is no longer restricting access to the Local Registry office but urges court users to keep communicating by phone to file documents via fax, mail or drop-off in the courthouses’ drop boxes. Scheduled jury trials are expected to resume offsite in September.
Court of Appeal to Resume In-Person Hearings
The court will recommence in-person hearings in September, but will permit counsel and self-represented individuals to choose whether to attend in-person or virtually. The court also allows members of the public and of the media to listen and to observe hearings.
Notice - Further Reopening of Circuit Locations and the Return to Communities
The court confirmed that it can reopen in the communities outlined in its June 23 notice.
Latest Announcements About Criminal Proceedings in the OCJ
Effective July 19, the court has resumed accepting applications for s. 810 Criminal Code peace bonds across Ontario and has launched a new remote application process which will not require a person to attend in person to initiate a peace bond application.
Prince Edward Island
The chief public health officer no longer requires the use of non-medical masks in indoor public spaces, but recommends continued mask use for those interacting with the public, if physical distancing is not possible.
Registry service resumption notice on COVID-19
Court registries and the Sheriff’s Office have reopened to the public, effective July 20. Precautions are in place, following consultation with the chief public health officer’s office, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as symptom screening, encouraging physical distancing where possible and requesting that court participants use hand sanitizer and wear masks.