Today’s update for courthouses across Canada
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.
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.
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.
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.
Supreme Court of British Columbia
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
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.
Family Court of Nova Scotia
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
For a period of two weeks from Mar. 18, the province will not be enforcing the collection of fine payments.
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
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.
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.
Territorial Court of the Northwest Territories
These changes have been revised as of Mar. 18. All lawyers acting as counsel are to appear before the court by telephone.
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.