Updates from Canadian Courts in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

18 March 2020

Updated: April 30, 2020

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, courts across Canada are drastically reducing their operations. This article provides ongoing updates on the operations of key Canadian courts, as well as links to the latest press releases published by each court. Gowling WLG is committed and technologically equipped to quickly adapt to these rapid and significant changes.



Supreme Court of Canada

Latest update - April 29, 2020

  • As of March 25, 2020, cases previously scheduled for hearing in March, April and May were adjourned, tentatively, to the month of June 2020. As of April 29, 2020, the Court has now announced the list of appeals that will be heard in June 2020, which will take place by videoconference.
  • All other adjourned hearings will be heard in the regular fall session, which will begin the week of October 5, 2020. The Court will continue to issue judgments on applications for leave and on appeal for the time being.
  • Deadlines imposed by the Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada are suspended until further notice. Deadlines imposed by statute, including s. 40 of the Supreme Court Act, remain in force.
  • Court documents must be filed by email, whether originating or otherwise.
  • More information here.

Federal Courts

Federal Court of Appeal

Latest update - April 15, 2020

  • As of April 2, 2020, the Court adjourned all hearings scheduled to be heard through to May 15, 2020 with the exception of urgent matters. As of April 15, 2020, the Court is now exempting some cases from the general adjournment in order to allow them to progress towards a determination on the merits. The Court is currently reviewing its list of pending cases to determine which ones should progress.
    • Cases selected to proceed and that are ready for determination (i.e. all necessary procedural steps have been completed) will proceed in writing or by way of teleconference or videoconference, not in person.
    • For cases selected to proceed where there remain procedural steps to be completed, the Court will reach out to the parties to terminate the suspension period as of a certain date.
  • In addition, parties remain at liberty to request on consent that their case be heard by way of teleconference or videoconference or be determined in writing.
  • The running of all timelines under Orders and Directions of the Court made prior to March 16, 2020, as well as under the Federal Courts Rules, and subsection 18.1(2) of the Federal Courts Act are suspended until May 15th.
  • Registry counters are closed. Until May 15, 2020, parties are strongly encouraged to file materials by email, but may file paper copies at designated dropoff locations at Registry locations.
  • More information here.

Federal Court

Latest update - April 29, 2020

  • On April 4, 2020, the Court confirmed all hearings scheduled through to May 15, 2020 were adjourned, with the exception of urgent or exceptional matters. As of April 29, 2020, the Court has now extended this suspension period to May 29, 2020, but is expanding the range of matters it is prepared to adjudicate by teleconference, videoconference, or in writing during this period.
  • Beyond May 29, the Court has adjourned sine die all scheduled matters and cancelled all General Sittings through to June 28, 2020. Urgent or exceptional matters will continue to be heard during this period, as well as case management hearings and matters that parties request on consent to be heard by teleconference, videoconference, or in writing, which will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The Court will also identify matters it considers ready to proceed or close to ready to proceed, and will begin reaching out to parties to discuss scheduling these matters by videoconference or teleconference. It may be possible to move some of these matters forward even where the other side does not consent.
  • The running of all timelines under Orders and Directions of the Court made prior to March 16, 2020, as well as under the Federal Courts Rules, and subsection 18.1(2) of the Federal Courts Act are suspended until May 29, 2020. After May 29, 2020, timelines for the filing of documents and the taking of other procedural steps will be extended by 14 days to June 12, 2020. This latter extension of time does not apply to files that are case managed; in those cases, the deadlines prescribed by the Court's Case Management Judges in issued Orders will govern.
  • Registry counters continue to be closed. Parties should use the E-filing portal to file materials, and may also file materials by email on an exceptional basis. For documents filed electronically between March 16 and May 15, 2020, parties are exempt from filing paper copies.
  • More information here.

British Columbia

British Columbia Court of Appeal

Latest update - April 20, 2020

  • As of March 30, 2020, all appeal hearings, chambers applications and other matters currently scheduled until May 1, 2020 were adjourned unless designated by the Chief Justice as matters that must proceed. As of April 20, 2020 the suspension period has been extended to June 1, 2020.
  • During the suspension period, litigants to an appeal designated as a matter that must proceed will be contacted by the Registry and the matter will be heard by teleconference or in writing. However, beginning May 4, 2020, the Court will hear all appeals, including those that are not urgent, by videoconference unless otherwise directed. Litigants are required to complete the Court Proceedings by Videoconference form 14 days in advance of their hearing. Also beginning May 4, 2020, the Court will hear all chambers applications and Registrar's appointments, including those that are not urgent, by teleconference or in writing.
  • Filing and service deadlines for all existing appeals, existing applications for leave to appeal, or other existing matters were suspended on March 18, 2020 and will remain suspended until June 1, 2020. However, beginning May 4, 2020, electronic filing will become mandatory in civil appeals, and litigants must file and serve materials relating to new chambers applications or appointments in civil or family matters according to ordinary timelines. Limitation periods for commencing civil or family appeals stopped running on March 26, 2020, and will continue to be suspended until the provincial state of emergency order is cancelled. For criminal matters, parties should continue to file and serve notice of appeal or applications for leave to appeal within required time periods.
  • The Registry counter is closed and parties should file materials electronically, by fax or by mail.
  • More information here.

British Columbia Supreme Court

Latest update - April 20, 2020

  • All matters scheduled for hearing between March 19, 2020 and May 29, 2020 are adjourned unless the Court otherwise directs.
  • The Court will continue to hear essential and urgent matters during this period, and as of April 20, 2020, the Court has developed a procedure for requests for teleconference hearings of matters that are non-urgent, were scheduled for hearing during the suspension period, are suitable for determination by telephone and are estimated to take less than one hour. At each teleconference hearing, parties will be limited to addressing one disputed issue or to bringing forward issues on which they have consent. Parties may address the disputed issue on the basis of a single affidavit filed per party, no longer than 10 pages.
  • Limitation periods and any other mandatory time limits established by British Columbia law within civil or family matters are now suspended, including relating to the commencement of actions. Filing and service deadlines under the Supreme Court Civil Rules are suspended until May 29, 2020, following which they will begin to run again.
  • The Registry counter is closed and parties should file materials using the e-filing portal, by fax, by mail, or using the Secure Drop Box now available at Supreme Court registries. More information here.

Alberta

Alberta Court of Appeal

Latest update - April 8, 2020

  • Effective March 23, 2020, matters set down before a single duty judge will be heard by teleconference. Personal attendance in chambers will not be permitted without prior written authorization. Parties may consent to adjourn any matter in accordance with time limits under the Rules, consent to extensions or time, or consent to having applications decided on the paper record without oral argument.
  • Effective March 30, 2020, appeals and applications to be heard by a three judge panel will be heard by videoconference or telephone. If parties wish to request an oral hearing, they must contact a Case Management Officer; otherwise personal attendance in Court will not be permitted. Parties may consent to adjourn any appeal or application or consent to having the appeal or application decided on the paper record without oral argument.
  • Timelines under the Alberta Rules of Court have been suspended until May 1, 2020, and limitation periods are suspended from March 17, 2020 to June 1, 2020.
  • Filing processes are currently unaffected, but parties are encouraged to make use of email and fax filing processes, as well as the new drop box available at the Courthouses. Parties and counsel are also encouraged to provide their email address to the Registry, as the Court may send correspondence to the parties by email instead of fax.
  • More information here.

Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta

Latest update - April 23, 2020

  • Effective immediately, the Court is limiting hearings to emergency or urgent matters only. A list of what the Court considers emergency or urgent matters can be found here.
  • Between March 16 and May 31, 2020, the Court will not make any new bookings in any non-emergency or non-urgent matter.
  • Timelines under the Alberta Rules of Court have been suspended until May 31, 2020, and limitation periods are suspended from March 17, 2020 to June 1, 2020.
  • Filing processes are currently unaffected, but parties are encouraged to make use of email and fax filing processes, as well as the new drop box available at the Courthouses.
  • More information here.

Ontario

Ontario Court of Appeal

Latest update - April 6, 2020

  • On March 17, 2020, the Court of Appeal suspended all scheduled appeals, with the exception of urgent appeals. As of April 6, 2020, all matters scheduled on or after April 14, 2020 will now proceed according to the Court's Practice Direction Regarding Electronic Conduct of Matters.
  • The running of all statutory limitation periods under Ontario law and time limits pertaining to procedural steps taken in an Ontario proceeding are suspended, retroactive to March 16, 2020. However urgent family law appeals are not subject to any automatic time extensions.
  • Registry counters are closed. Urgent court filings should be filed by email, mail or dropped off outside the Intake Office.
  • More information here.

Ontario Superior Court of Justice

Latest update - April 2, 2020

  • Effective March 17, 2020, the Court suspended all regular operations until further notice and adjourned all civil matters scheduled to be heard on or after March 17, 2020, with the exception of urgent matters. This includes telephone and videoconference appearances, unless the presiding judicial officer directs otherwise.
  • As of April 6, 2020 the Court began hearing matters in addition to "urgent" matters. Details of matters that may be heard in each region are described in region-specific Notices to the Profession, found here.
  • The running of all statutory limitation periods under Ontario law and time limits pertaining to procedural steps taken in an Ontario proceeding are suspended, retroactive to March 16, 2020.
  • Registry counters are closed. Parties may file though the Small Claims Court online filing service or the Civil Claims Online Portal for Superior Court civil matters. The Court will also accept filings by email but only for those matters that are urgent or identified to be dealt with in a region's Notice to the Profession.
  • More information here.

Quebec

Cour d'appel du Québec

Latest update - April 16, 2020

  • All hearings scheduled to be heard until May 15, 2020 are adjourned, except for urgent matters. As of April 15, 2020, the Court has begun offering parties the option of presenting their motions before a judge alone by way of videoconference, including in relation to non-urgent matters.
  • Effective immediately, time limits pertaining to extinctive prescription and forfeiture in civil matters, as well as civil procedure time limits, are suspended.
  • As of April 9, 2020, parties to appeals as of right in civil matters may now make electronic filings through the digital Court office pilot project. Other Court filings will not be accepted if they do not relate to urgent matters.
  • More information here.

la Cour supérieure du Québec

Latest update - March 17, 2020

  • The Court is suspending its regular activities until further notice; only the urgent matters listed in the Court's press release will proceed. All settlement conferences are cancelled.
  • The Court is also in the process of setting up a system that will permit hearings by teleconference, and will advise when it is operational.
  • Time limits pertaining to extinctive prescription and forfeiture in civil matters, as well as civil procedure time limits, are suspended.
  • More information here.

Other Canadian Courts

Our advocacy team at Gowling WLG is taking all measures to ensure Court deadlines are met and your rights are protected. We will continue to keep you informed as further developments arise. All Gowling WLG clients can expect to receive the same high level of service throughout this challenging time. Our team remains fully available to address your needs, including those related to COVID-19.

If you have any questions as to how these Court notices affect your litigation matters in Canada, please contact your Gowling WLG professional. For other COVID-19 related resources, please visit our resource hub with information to help clients manage their business during the pandemic. The hub contains critical information to guide you through various complex legal issues, as well as a list of key contacts who can provide advice on these issues.


NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Information made available on this website in any form is for information purposes only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. You should not rely on, or take or fail to take any action based upon this information. Never disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking legal advice because of something you have read on this website. Gowling WLG professionals will be pleased to discuss resolutions to specific legal concerns you may have.