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COVID-19 and the courts: July 6 update

Latest update for courthouses across Canada

COVID-19 and the courts: July 6 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

Federal Court

Consolidated COVID-19 Practice Direction
The consolidated document addresses the suspension of regular operations, rescheduling, proceedings held remotely or via written submissions, electronic filings, service of documents, access to the courts, commissioning of affidavits and other matters.

COVID-19 Practice Direction and Order: Update #5
As of June 30, the suspension period is no longer in force across Canada. In Ontario, Quebec and the three territories, the court is giving parties and their counsel the opportunity to prepare by refraining from holding hearings before July 27 and by extending the timelines for filing documents and taking other procedural steps to July 13. Until further notice, the court is hearing all applications for judicial review and general sittings via video-conference, or exceptionally via teleconference, but will be considering requests for in-person hearings. As of June 29, the court’s registry counters have opened with reduced staff and are accepting paper filings only for confidential documents. All other documents are still subject to e-filing, faxing or emailing.

British Columbia

Provincial Court of British Columbia

Notice to the Profession and Public (NP 19): COVID-19: Resumption of further court operations
The notice, updated on July 2, states that the court has opened one courtroom for in-person appearances in each of the listed locations as of June 15. Criminal trials, preliminary inquiries and continuations of trials and preliminary inquiries which can’t move forward due to lack of time or which are otherwise adjourned will be subject to a pretrial conference before a new hearing date can be scheduled. Family and small claims case conferences will proceed via audio or video-conference on their scheduled dates.

Practice Direction (CRIM 12): Criminal Pretrial Conferences During COVID-19
The July 2 update amends the section concerning the application of the practice directive.

Practice Direction (FAM 08): Early Resolution Process and Expedited Court Process to Change or Suspend Child or Spousal Support due to COVID-19
Effective July 2, parties may make use of an early resolution and expedited court process if they are seeking a suspension or change to an existing agreement or court order about child support or spousal support as a result of a change in income since January due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supreme Court of British Columbia

COVID-19 Notice No. 32 – Resumption of further court operations – Registrar hearings
Effective June 30, the court has recommenced registrar hearings, generally via telephone. Until further notice, bankruptcy hearings before a master or registrar will resume. In locations where there is a resident registrar or master, trustees will attend in person, while in other locations, trustees will attend via telephone.

COVID-19 Notice No. 31 – Resumption of further court operations – Sealed bid procedures for foreclosures and other matters involving sales of land
The court has resumed hearing foreclosure matters in chambers, which will be conducted via telephone. The notice lays down the process for submitting sealed bids to the court for foreclosures and other matters involving the sale of land.

COVID-19 Notice No. 30 - Criminal proceedings - Applications under s. 490 of the Criminal Code (further detention of things seized)
The court has adopted a temporary procedure for s. 490 applications concerning the further detention of things seized, in recognition of the distinct procedural issues that arise during the public health crisis.

COVID-19 Notice No. 29 - Criminal proceedings - COVID pretrial conferences (CV PTC)
Until further notice, the court will continue conducting COVID-19 pretrial conferences for all criminal cases where the trial was adjourned or is at risk of being adjourned owing to the direct or indirect impacts of the novel coronavirus emergency. Counsel are no longer required to submit the CV PTC form but should be informed and instructed about the case when making their appearance.

Alberta

Provincial Court of Alberta

COVID-19 staged resumption of court operations - Part 2
Effective July 6, the court is expanding the criminal, civil, family and youth matters it is hearing in person at base point courtrooms, which are subject to certain health and safety measures. The court has established detailed resumption plans for each division and region.

Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta

Resumption of family, civil and masters hearing lists remotely province-wide
As of July the court has resumed some family, civil and masters hearing lists across the province, conducted remotely via WebEx video and audio on regular dates.

Rescheduling child support applications and variation applications adjourned by master orders
Effective immediately, all child support applications and child support variation applications adjourned from Regular Family Chambers by master orders from Mar. 16 to June 26 may be scheduled to Regular Family Chambers between July 2 and July 17 without first needing to attend in Family Docket Court in Calgary or Edmonton.

Extension of the cap on email and fax filing fees and the suspension of Rule 13.41(4) to September 30, 2020
The court has extended the cap on email and fax filing fees and the suspension of Rule 13.41(4) to Sept. 30.​ Documents filed via email or fax will be charged at the rate of $1 per page, capped to a maximum amount of $20, in addition to regular filing fees.

Court of Appeal of Alberta

Notice to the Profession and Public - Launch of the Public Portal of the E-Filing System
On Aug. 31, the court will launch the Court of Appeal Management System, which is the public portal of its e-­filing system. The new system digitizes and automates numerous court procedures and records.

Saskatchewan

Provincial Court of Saskatchewan

Reopening of Circuit Court Locations
The court will recommence at four circuit court locations: at Humboldt on July 6, at Cut Knife and Indian Head on July 7 and at Stanley Mission on July 14.

Ontario

Ontario Court of Justice

Notice to the Profession and the Public re Criminal Case Management Appearances and Setting Trial and Preliminary Inquiry Dates
The first phase of the Ministry of the Attorney General’s incremental plan to reopen court operations in the province begins on July 6. Criminal trials and preliminary inquiries will resume in a limited number of courthouses and courtrooms which have health and safety measures in place. The adjournment of criminal case management appearances has been extended to July 31.

Criminal Case Adjournment Dates – Out-of-Custody Accused
The information has been updated as of July 2.

COVID-19: Scheduling of Family Matters in the Ontario Court of Justice
The court has adjourned for eight to 12 weeks all matters which were not included in the June 17 scheduling of family matters, except if permitted to proceed in chambers, or by judge’s order to proceed remotely or in person.

COVID-19: Notice to Counsel/Paralegals and the Public re: Provincial Offences Act Matters in the Ontario Court of Justice
Until further notice, the court will not be conducting in-person Provincial Offences Act proceedings until Sept. 14. Between July 6 and Sept. 11, certain remote judicial pretrials and remote early resolution guilty pleas may be held.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador

What You Need to Know Before Coming to Provincial Court
The notice discusses how to find one’s new court date, what to expect upon arrival at the court, the swearing-in or affirmation of witnesses, and the protocol for safely handling exhibits.

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