This week’s roundup for courthouses across Canada
Courts across Canada have been taking measures to control the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19. Below is a roundup of actions courts are taking across the country.
Revised NP 16 Assignment of Duties to Judicial Justices
The notice assigns judicial justices to certain duties, classes of cases and matters, including hearings relating to all provincial offences. The update on May 7 adds an exception for designated COVID-19-related offences that have a total ticketed amount of at least $2,300 and have been assigned to be heard by the court’s judges.
COVID-19 Court Measures Update
From May 10 to 28, the court will adjourn and will reschedule trials, preliminary inquiries and other hearings requiring viva voce evidence, unless an accused individual is in custody or unless the matter is urgent. This is applicable to criminal, family, youth, child protection and civil court matters. Parties may file applications for a matter to be considered urgent to the assistant chief judge in the division or geographic region where the matter is scheduled to be heard, or to the judge who is conducting the matter if it is ongoing.
Bar Admissions Update
The court is remotely conducting bar admission ceremonies, effective immediately and until further notice, and will post Webex links for family and friends wanting to view the ceremonies, according to the court’s update on May 5.
COVID-19: Additional Measures to Limit Traffic at Court Facilities
The notice describes COVID-19-related measures for the weeks of May 10, May 17 and May 24. The court will adjourn new in-person criminal trials, jury trials and civil, commercial, surrogate and family matters, subject to certain exceptions. The court will conduct files and other matters directed to proceed in person at the courthouses or at off-site jury facilities and will address matters ordered to proceed remotely by Webex or by telephone.
Latest Announcements About Criminal Proceedings in the OCJ
The update on May 4 extends the reduction of out-of-custody trials and preliminary inquiries until May 21. Virtual out-of-custody trials and preliminary inquiries may proceed from May 10 to 21.
Latest Announcements About Family Proceedings in the OCJ
The court will keep adjourning in-person and hybrid family and Child, Youth and Family Services Act trials from May 10 to 21, said the update on May 4. Virtual trials not involving parties, counsel or witnesses attending court in person may move forward via remote technology effective May 10.
Virtual settlement conferences permitted during lockdown
Effective immediately, the court’s general division will allow virtual judicial settlement conferences for non-urgent matters where the presiding judge, counsel and the parties all consent to proceed virtually, according to a May 4 announcement. The court will use Microsoft Teams for video-conferencing when dealing with such matters, in most instances. The general division is still operating under the essential services model outlined in the court’s Apr. 28 notice.
COVID-19: Court of Appeal proceedings during the pandemic
The court reminded counsel and parties, in light of the start of its next term on May 11, that it still operates pursuant to the practice directive for appeal proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic, first implemented in June 2020 and updated last Apr. 29 to reflect the shift to Microsoft Teams for virtual court proceedings.