May 14th, 2020 Update:
On May 13, 2020, Chief Justice Morawetz issued a Notice to the Profession, Litigants, Accused Persons and Public expanding the scope of matters to take place virtually in the Superior Court of Justice. The Notice also provides a compilation of the previous Notices issued since the commencement of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Notice summarizes, among other things, that on March 15, 2020, Chief Justice Morawetz issued a Notice suspending Court operations, effective March 17, 2020. The Notice specified that only “urgent” matters would proceed virtually.
On April 2, 2020, a further Notice was issued expanding the scope of matters to proceed virtually to include pre-trial conferences, Rule 7 motions for approval of settlement in writing and consent motions in writing.
The recent May 13, 2020 Notice directs the public to various regional Notices that are now available, and which outline further, region-specific, expansions of Court services. Notably, in the East Region, effective May 19, 2020, the Court will begin scheduling a number of non-urgent civil matters to proceed virtually. The Notice for the East Region effective May 19, 2020 can be found here.
In particular, the Notice for the East Region stipulates that, in addition to urgent matters, pretrial conferences, Rule 7 motions in writing and consent motions in writing, the East Region will now also deal with the following matters virtually:
- contested motions and applications made in writing,
- urgent matters under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, and,
- requests for appointment of class proceedings judges.
At the discretion of the judge, the Court will also schedule the following matters to proceed virtually:
- contested motions and applications (at the request of a party),
- motions and applications that were commenced and adjourned.
The expansion of virtual Court services comes at an opportune time, as a Notice issued May 5, 2020 recently advised that the Superior Court of Justice not resume in-person hearings until at least July 6, 2020, and jury trials will not take place until at least September. Where possible, counsel and parties should consider moving civil matters forward virtually now, as significant delays due to judicial backlog are likely once in-person proceedings resume.
Original Post –
On April 20, 2020, Chief Justice Geoffrey B, Morawetz of the Ontario Superior Court issued a Notice to the Profession, Public, Accused Persons and the Media Regarding the Suspension of Criminal and Civil Jury Trials.
The Notice advises that criminal or civil jury selection and jury trials scheduled to be heard in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice are suspended until at least September 2020. The Court will monitor the situation and provide further direction in early May.
The Notice also states that it will be for each region of the Court to decide how to reschedule to civil jury trials that would have been heard during this period. Details regarding rescheduling will be provided in regional Notices to the Profession. The Notice is silent as to how criminal jury trials will be rescheduled, however, notes that criminal matters scheduled for trial or other reason in June will remain in place until further direction.
Please know that we have been proactively limiting in-person client meetings and employing our existing and enhanced technology for video and teleconferencing to facilitate meetings. Our staff and lawyers are equipped to work remotely and we will be able to serve your business and legal needs with continued service should a physical office closure become necessary.
Please contact us with any questions or concerns.