As you are all aware, our government is trying very hard to ensure that all citizens of the province adhere to the social distancing/isolation requirements to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
This means that everyone, including lawyers, should be working from home, if at all possible. There is a public interest element in continuing to have access to legal services during this difficult time and we believe that you can and should continue to provide these services as long as you can do so in compliance with the government’s recommendations.
As outlined in a previous email to you, members should consider conducting routine meetings with clients by phone or using video-conferencing options such as Zoom, Skype, FaceTime and other platforms in order to comply with public health recommendations regarding social distancing. Where an in-person meeting is required, please continue to engage in social distancing techniques including, avoiding common greetings (including handshakes) and keeping a distance of two (2) meters from others.
Please remember that some individuals that carry COVID-19 may be asymptomatic or only have mild symptoms. The spread of the virus can occur unknowingly. Members and their clients may have contact with individuals who may be more vulnerable to the virus (i.e. those that are elderly, with underlying medical conditions, or who have compromised immune systems). It is, therefore, imperative that we make every effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible. Public health officials have stated that social distancing will help to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Both the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal have advised that they will accept unsworn/unaffirmed affidavits or documents at the present time. Both Courts are also only accepting documents/filings via email or fax.
Update from the Commercial Registrations Division
- Counter Service suspended. In a further effort to maintain the safety and well-being of staff, clients and the community in light of COVID-19, Service NL has suspended counter service at its Commercial Registrations Division. The full news release can be located at: https://www.gov.nl.ca/releases/2020/servicenl/0322n04/
- Access to the public research area for searching historical paper-registered documents will be available only by appointment on an urgent basis. Appointments for urgent matters can be made by calling (709) 729-3316 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Registry of Deeds Status – Paper processing status for the Registry of Deeds that would normally be viewable on a whiteboard in our public research area can now be found on our web site at: https://www.gov.nl.ca/snl/registries/deeds-2/ . We will try to update this information updated as best as possible.
- Courier packages are still being accepted in our drop boxes inside our doors. We are requesting couriers batch their deliveries to limit repeat visits. Couriers are able to check law firm mailboxes at time of visit. If a law firm checks their own mailbox and need access to it we can make arrangements.
- Postal mail is still being delivered to the Registry daily. Processing is occurring but with reduced capacity.
- Where online search and registration services are available through CADO we request that this service channel be utilized.?
- Online search, registration and client supports for the Personal Property Registry through ACOL remains uninterrupted. As a result, absent a pressing need to meet with a client in person, we are recommending that you use an alternative technique as noted above.
Update from Human Rights Commission
Please refer to the following www.thinkhumanrights.ca for the Human Rights complaint process.
We remind members that we now have a webpage dedicated to updates on COVID-19: https://lsnl.ca/information-regarding-covid-19/
Update from the Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador
Due to issues recently experienced with many Stakeholders with CourtCall, effective Tuesday, March 24, 2020, Provincial Court is temporarily implementing call-in numbers for Stakeholders when appearing in Court (see attached Stakeholder List). When calling in for a Court matter, I strongly advise you to call early as you may get a busy signal. Please keep trying and once you get through and enter your code, you will ‘wait in the wings’ until the Court Officer brings everyone into ‘Court’. Note that St. John’s Courtroom #5 on the attached list will be used for WASH Court, which started today and on a go-forward basis. Also note that this process will be followed during the COVID-19 Pandemic and you will be notified when Provincial Court reverts back to CourtCall.
Please find attached as well a revised Operational Plan for Provincial Court, effective today, March 23, 2020.