COVID-19 and the courts: March 19 update

Today’s update for courthouses across Canada

COVID-19 and the courts: March 19 update

Courts across Canada have been 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.

Supreme Court of Canada
Filing of all documents by email

Out of concern for the health and safety of visitors and employees in light of COVID-19, the Supreme Court of Canada Building is closed to all visitors. However, the Court remains open for case-related matters, including filing of documents at the Registry.

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To assist parties in filing their documents within their respective timelines as set out in the Supreme Court Act and the Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada, documents may be filed by email, whether originating or otherwise. The original paper copies shall be filed subsequently within a reasonable time.

Message from the Chief Justice of Canada

The Chief Justice of Canada, Richard Wagner, said that the chief justices are working to limit the spread of the virus at their respective courts in order to protect all citizens, while still ensuring that the justice system continues to function and the rule of law prevails. The message then includes a list of court websites, which contain relevant information for Canadians.

British Columbia
Supreme Court of British Columbia

Notice to the Profession, the Public and the Media Regarding Civil and Family Proceedings
Notice to the Profession, the Public and the Media Regarding Criminal Proceedings

Effective Mar. 19 and until further notice, all regular operations at all of its locations have been suspended, effective immediately and until further notice. The court will continue to hear essential and urgent civil, family and criminal matters, the procedures for which may be found in the abovementioned notices.

Court of Appeal for Ontario

Court of Appeal for Ontario — Intake Office, Records Office and Judges’ Reception Counter Services — Hours of Operation

Effective Mar. 18 and until further notice, counter services will only be offered between 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Nova Scotia
Family Court of Nova Scotia

COVID-19: Preventative Measures in the Family Court

The Family Court has introduced preventative measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, while still ensuring that urgent family law matters, such as child protection, can continue to be dealt with in court, as needed.

Prince Edward Island
Provincial Court of Prince Edward Island

New Notice Re: Provincial Fine Payments — Re: COVID-19

For a period of two weeks from Mar. 18, the province will not be enforcing the collection of fine payments.

Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island and Prince Edward Island Court of Appeal

Updated Notice to the Profession, the Public and the Media regarding Coronavirus/COVID-19

Effective immediately, non-essential matters are adjourned. Urgent or emergency matters will continue to be heard, in a manner and forum determined by the court. Individuals wishing to enter the courthouses for court proceedings should first contact the applicable court prior to attending court. The Charlottetown and Summerside courthouses remain open for filing of documents, but with added safety precautions and restrictions in place.

Newfoundland and Labrador
Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador

Notice to the Profession and General Public — COVID-19: Preventative Measures

All criminal, family and civil matters scheduled to be heard after Mar. 18 are adjourned. Until further notice, only certain in-custody criminal matters, urgent and emergency civil and family matters and other matters as the court deems necessary to hear on an urgent basis will be heard by the Supreme Court.

Court of Appeal of Newfoundland and Labrador

Notice to the Profession and General Public — COVID-19: Preventative Measures

Physical access to the court is restricted. Only those necessary to any proceedings before the court will be permitted entry. Until further notice, all currently scheduled appeals will be suspended. The court will review the docket to determine if there are any matters which must proceed due to urgent or exceptional circumstances, with parties being advised of alternative procedures to be adopted.

Northwest Territories
Territorial Court of the Northwest Territories

Changes to Territorial Court and Justice of the Peace Court Sittings due to COVID 19

These changes have been revised as of Mar. 18. All lawyers acting as counsel are to appear before the court by telephone.

Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories

COVID 19 Response: changes to Supreme Court proceedings and scheduling

The response has been revised as of Mar. 18.

For criminal matters, Yellowknife jury trials, judge alone trials and voir dires, scheduled to proceed between Mar. 18 and May 1, are cancelled. Other hearings and regular criminal chambers will proceed, with counsel appearing by telephone and the accused appearing by videoconference, as long as both parties agree to this arrangement.

Family hearings where witnesses are to be called and which are scheduled to proceed between Mar. 18 and May 1 are cancelled. Special chambers hearings, which do not involve calling evidence and which are scheduled to proceed between Mar. 18 and May 1, may proceed if counsel are prepared to appear by phone on those hearings.

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