Alix Digout – April 2020
Due to the current COVID-19 crisis, the legal community continues to evolve and work collectively to help limit the spread of COVID-19, service client needs, and promote access to justice.
While most lawyers/law firms are operating remotely, the Nova Scotia Courts are considered an essential service and remain open. Several protective measures have been implemented under an essential service model to ensure both court staff and the public stay safe while trying to maintain a level of function. Some updated measures include:
- The Court will only hear urgent/essential matters until further notice unless otherwise determined by a Judge. Within Supreme Court Family Division, “urgent” is largely reserved for child and adult protection matters.
- Matters deemed non-urgent or non-essential will be rescheduled accordingly.
- As of March 27, 2020, the Court of Appeal has adjourned all hearings scheduled for May/June,2020, unless determined urgent or essential by the Court. Adjourned hearings will be rescheduled for Fall 2020. All deadlines related to these postponed matters are currently suspended.
- Anyone feeling unwell or subject to self-isolation requirements should not attend Court. Proceeding matters will be handled primarily by telephone or videoconferencing, with social distancing measures being observed by those attending in person.
- As of March 28, 2020, the Court announced that unless indicated by a Judge, filing deadlines outlined in the Civil Procedure Rules, for civil and family matters in the General Division only, are suspended until further notice (retroactive to March 19, 2020). This directive impacts timelines for filing a Notice of Defence in response to an action, a Notice of Contest in response to an application, and Notice of Judicial Review or Appeal, etc.
- Filing deadlines created by statute, i.e., the Limitation of Actions Act and Probate Act must still be adhered to, as only the Legislature can mandate changes to these timelines.
- Electronic filings via e-mail and facsimile are now accepted by the Court but restricted to urgent/essential matters only. Documents that are not related to a matter proceeding in the immediate future should be filed once normal operations resume.
- Unless directed by a Judge, the Court will now accept unsworn affidavits. A sworn copy of an affidavit must be provided at the time of a hearing. As of April 2, 2020, the Court will accept “virtual” affidavits (using video technology). Detailed guidelines for swearing virtual affidavits before a commissioner/notary is linked below.
- Essential service model directives announced by the Court will remain in effect until the Court ceases operations under the current essential services model.
The Court will advise the public once normal operations resume and will continue to provide updates regarding any changes to their practice on the Court of Nova Scotia website at courts.ns.ca.
Like the Court, MDW Law has pivoted to adapt to the current COVID-19 climate, conducting client meetings, discoveries and mediations by video conferencing in order to advance clients’ matters, as appropriate. Howver, trials, motions, judicial settlement conferences, date assignment conferences, etc. that require the Courts involvement have largely been cancelled or adjourned for the time being.
The Personal Injury Team at MDW Law is fully operational remotely and offers free initial consults via Zoom or by telephone for prospective clients. For our current clients, we are available by Zoom, telephone, and e-mail to answer any questions or concerns you may have about the impact of COVID-19 on your personal injury claim.