COVID-19 and the courts: March 24 update

Today’s update for courthouses across Canada

COVID-19 and the courts: March 24 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.

British Columbia

Court of Appeal for British Columbia
Notice to accredited media regarding access to Court of Appeal proceedings
While court proceedings have been temporarily limited and modified, courts must remain open to public scrutiny in accordance with the open courts principle. Members of the accredited media may email the superior courts communications officer at SCJCommunicationsOfficer@bccourts.ca to find out how they can continue to participate in hearings, such as via teleconference.

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Alberta

Notice to the profession and public regarding courts’ responses to COVID-19 pandemic
This notice was posted on the websites of both the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta and the Court of Appeal of Alberta. In light of the impact on court operations of the Premier of Alberta’s Mar. 17 declaration of a public health emergency, the court has asked members of the public who are not necessary to court proceedings to refrain from visiting courthouses in the province. Traffic courts are not operating, so individuals are asked to pay tickets and other fines online rather than visiting the courthouses.

Provincial Court of Alberta
Update! COVID-19 pandemic planning for the scheduling of matters
The court has announced an update of the measures it adopted to limit regular court operations to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta
Announcement from Resolution and Court Administration Services (RCAS): Email filing of court documents
To help limit the number of people visiting courthouses, the court has provided an enhanced email filing system for court documents, applicable to all Queen’s Bench judicial centres. Effective Mar. 24, law firms and lawyers who have existing fax filing accounts or who wish to open a fax filing account can now file documents in their local judicial centre.

Court of Appeal of Alberta
Notice to public and profession — COVID-19
Effective Mar. 23, the court will continue to hear appeals, applications and motions, but not in person. The court is implementing certain protocols, such as audio or video conference, depending on whether the proceeding involves a single-judge duty matter or a three-judge panel. Effective Mar. 25, certain procedural time limits will be extended. Counsel and parties are encouraged to file documents by email or fax, where possible.

New Brunswick

Provincial Court of New Brunswick
Directive to all lawyers and general public — COVID-19 : Further restrictions in the Provincial Court
The court has issued an update on the restrictions to its proceedings, following the declaration of a state of emergency by the provincial government.

Court of Queen’s Bench of New Brunswick
Directive from the Court of Queen’s Bench

The court has announced that in-person contact in the clerk’s offices and in the Queen’s Bench section of the registrar’s office can only be done by appointment. There are also new protocols in place for the filing of certain documents, petitions and applications and for the payment of filing fees.

Court of Appeal of New Brunswick
Directive — Court of Appeal
The court has issued a directive modifying the procedural rules governing the filing of documents in certain cases. If one needs or wishes to file a document notwithstanding the directive, they may do so using one of the methods the court has listed.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador
Notice — March 24, 2020
Effective Mar. 24 and until further notice, the Clarenville Provincial Court is closed as a precautionary measure, owing to possible third-party exposure of staff to COVID-19.

Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador
Notice to the profession and general public — COVID-19: Preventative measures

Urgent hearings and appearances will generally be done by telephone or videoconference. In case the court decides that an in-person hearing or appearance on an urgent matter is needed, the court will provide directions to counsel and parties.

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