COVID-19 and the courts: March 26 update

Today’s update for courthouses across Canada

COVID-19 and the courts: March 26 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

Supreme Court of Canada

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News Release dated Mar. 25
Cases set for hearing in March, April and May have been tentatively adjourned to June. For the present time, the court will continue issuing judgments on applications for leave and on appeal. Until further notice, media briefings on judgments on appeal will be offered only via teleconference. Parties should file documents by email, and only parties necessary for court proceedings can visit the building.

British Columbia

Supreme Court of British Columbia

Announcement — Changes to Supreme Court Registry Services
While the suspension of the court’s regular operations is in effect, the court registries will refrain from offering in-person registry services. The announcement lists the ways by which one can submit requests for an urgent hearing when one can’t use the electronic process provided by the court, as well as regular filings which aren’t considered essential and urgent.

Alberta

Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta

COVID-19: Amendments to Master Order #2
The court announced minor amendments to clarify its Master Order #2, which describes the modified processes of the court in light of COVID-19, including limitations on hearings.

Notice to the profession and public: Remote commissioning of affidavits for use in civil and family proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic
Until further notice, the court will permit certain accommodations for affidavits intended to be used in the court, subject to the court’s discretion to apply the best evidence requirements. The Law Society of Alberta approved these accommodations, the details of which are described in the notice.

Ontario

Ontario Court of Justice

Notice to the Profession — CYFSA Statutory Timelines and the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act
As per Ontario Regulation 73-20
, passed by the Ontario government under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act on Mar. 20, statutory timeframes have been extended during the duration of the provincial state of emergency. In the case of statutory timelines for urgent matters under the court’s earlier directive, the court will continue to adhere to them.

Notice to Public Regarding Provincial Offences Act Matters
Matters under the Provincial Offences Act scheduled from Mar. 16 to May 29 will be adjourned and rescheduled, so the concerned parties should not attend court. Certain timelines have also been extended, and limitation periods for the duration of the provincial state of emergency have been suspended by Ontario Regulation 73-20.

Quebec

Montreal — Criminal Division
Specific rooms remain open for emergency matters. The court will utilize phone calls and videoconference for certain aspects of proceedings. Trials and preliminary inquiries will be postponed, except if the presiding judge decides that a case should proceed because of its urgent nature.

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