banner banner

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.

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.

Information and Updates from the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador

COVID-19 Pandemic FAQs
The Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador is committed to taking the health and safety of our staff, the public and the profession seriously. Staff remain available to assist you – you can contact them via telephone or email. We will respond at our earliest opportunity.
Please note that information on this page may be updated from time to time and that information provided here is guidance only.

Law Society Operations
Is the Law Society open? Are all Law Society staff members working from home?
The Law Society building is not open to members or the public. Most Law Society staff are either already working from home or are transitioning to working from home. Staff have network access so that the work of the Law Society can continue as usual with some modifications.

Will anyone be available at the Law Society offices?
Yes. A receptionist will be present at the offices to answer incoming calls and manage deliveries from couriers. If you need to deliver forms, filings or other communications, either

  • do so electronically via email to thelawsociety@lsnl.ca and/or bgrimes@lsnl.ca and forward the originals by mail to the Law Society; or
  • put them in the secure red mail drop box located in the front porch of the Law Society offices.

Members are encouraged to use electronic means where possible.

Is the Law Society extending or waiving any filing or payment deadlines?
Not at this time. Documents can be filed via email to thelawsociety@lsnl.ca and/or bgrimes@lsnl.ca. The originals should also be sent to the Law Society by mail. If it is not possible to send a document electronically, you may drop it off in the secure red mail drop box located in the porch of the Law Society offices.

What if I need to file a document with the Law Society?
Documents should be filed electronically by sending them to thelawsociety@lsnl.ca and/or bgrimes@lsnl.ca. The originals should also be sent to the Law Society by mail. If it is not possible to send a document electronically, you may drop it off in the secure red mail drop box located in the porch of the Law Society offices.

What if I have a payment for the Law Society?
Payments may be delivered to the Law Society by placing it in the secure red mail drop box in the porch of the Law Society offices. Please do not put cash in the drop box.

Is the Law Library open to members? To the public?
No. Members and the public do not have access to the library until further notice. Library staff will be available, however, to provide reference assistance and supply books during regular business hours. Library staff will also continue to provide a scanning service to members (see more information on this page). Members who would like assistance or materials must contact the library (telephone at (709) 753-7770 or email at lawlibrary@lsnl.ca).

Can I take books out of the Law Library?
Whether members are permitted to take a book out of the library will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and will depend on a variety of factors. Contact the library for assistance (telephone at  (709) 753-7770 or at email lawlibrary@lsnl.ca).

I have loans from the Law Library that I need to return. How can I return them?
Members can return books in the secure blue book drop box located in the porch of the Law Society offices. Loose-leaf binders should be placed in the cardboard box above the blue book drop box. There will be no other access to the library for returns.

Can library staff help me with research or finding a book?
Yes. Although access to the library is restricted, library staff are still available to answer questions and assist with research. Please contact the library for more information (telephone at (709) 753-7770 or at email lawlibrary@lsnl.ca).

Can members of the public still make complaints about lawyers?
Yes. Law Society staff are working remotely and will continue to accept complaints about lawyers.

Are meetings scheduled to be held at the Law Society offices going ahead?
Meetings will not be physically held at the Law Society offices but they may still go ahead via videoconference or teleconference. Members and others involved in those meetings will be contacted by Law Society staff and/or the person who organized the meeting.

Is there someone at the Law Society that I can talk to about a practice issue?
Yes. You may contact the Law Society and you will be directed to a staff member that will assist you.

Have Law Society disciplinary proceedings such as tribunal hearings been cancelled?
No. Disciplinary proceedings will be conducted via teleconferencing and videoconferencing technology. Individuals involved in these proceedings will be contacted by Law Society staff.
Notice of hearings will be published in the normal course on the Law Society’s website.

Courts and Government Offices, etc.
Are the courts open? Are trials going ahead?
Information about court operations can be found on each court’s website:

Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador: https://court.nl.ca/provincial/
Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador (General Division): https://court.nl.ca/supreme/general/index.html
Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador (Family Division): https://court.nl.ca/supreme/family/index.html
Court of Appeal of Newfoundland and Labrador: https://www.court.nl.ca/appeal/

How is WASH court being conducted?
Information about WASH court can be found on this page under the heading ‘Updates – Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador’. You may also review information posted on the Provincial Court’s website: https://court.nl.ca/provincial/

I have an urgent filing for the Supreme Court – can I file it? What should I do?
The court has provided some guidance – please visit its website: https://court.nl.ca/supreme/

One of my files has an imminent limitation period/statutory deadline in the Supreme Court – will the court accept my filing?
The court will accept certain filings – please visit its website for more information: https://court.nl.ca/supreme/

Where can I find information about what changes the courts in other provinces and territories have implemented because of COVID-19?
Please check the website of each court for up-to-date information on the measures they are taking.

Given that lots of people are working from home, how do I serve documents on Her Majesty in Right of Newfoundland and Labrador?
The Department of Justice and Public Safety has provided some guidance that can be found on this page under the heading ‘Updates – Provincial Government’.

Will the courts accept documents that are not sworn?
All three levels of court in the province have relaxed the rules with respect to filing documents that need to be sworn or affirmed. Guidance can be found on each court’s website or in the notices linked on this page under the headings ‘Updates – Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, ‘Updates – Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador’ and ‘Updates – Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal’.

Is the Commercial Registrations Division operational?
Please see the notice distributed by the Law Society to its members on behalf of Dean Doyle, Director of Commercial Registrations, found on this page.
As further information becomes available, it will be broadly communicated to the profession.

I need a legal clearance from WorkplaceNL – are its offices open?
A notice from WorkplaceNL about legal clearances is found on this page under ‘Updates – Provincial Government’.

What happens if services and partners integral to providing legal services (e.g. courts, government offices) close due to the COVID-19 outbreak?
The Law Society is proactively monitoring and responding to the impact of COVID-19. As information becomes available, it will be broadly communicated to the profession. Where possible and appropriate, the Law Society will provide guidance as issues arise.

CLE Programs and Requirements
Will the CLE requirements be reduced or waived for this year?
At this time, the mandatory CLE requirements continue to apply. The Law Society continues to monitor the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on all aspects of its operations. If any changes are made to the mandatory CLE requirements, it will be broadly communicated to members.

Are CLE programs cancelled?
Yes, all current CLE programs have been cancelled for the time being. Efforts are being made to reschedule live programs or deliver them by webcast.

What if I have already registered for a CLE program – will I get a refund because it has been cancelled?
Members who have registered for any CLE seminars have two options:

  1. Members may request a refund or return of their cheque by contacting Andrea Mercer via email: amercer@lsnl.ca. Please bear with us as it may take some time to process these requests.
  2. Members can maintain their registration for any CLE programs, pending further information regarding the timing and delivery of these programs.

Members may request a refund at any point prior to the ultimate delivery of the CLE seminar and all deadlines specified in previous notices or correspondence are hereby waived.

Operating Your Practice
This whole situation is quite stressful and I’m feeling anxious. What can I do?
If you are experiencing concern and/or anxiety regarding the spread and/or impact of COVID-19 you are encouraged to reach out to the Professionals’ Assistance Program.

Homewood Health, the Law Society’s service provider, has already issued a notice regarding COVID-19: https://lsnl.ca/a-message-from-homewood-your-professional-assistance-provider/

Please find the contact information for Homewood at: https://lsnl.ca/lawyers-students/wellness-program/

How can I protect myself from getting COVID-19?
The World Health Organization, Government of Canada and Provincial Government have made recommendations on how to protect yourself and others from contracting and spreading COVID-19.

Some basic recommendations are:

  • wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds;
  • use approved hand sanitizers (alcohol based);
  • avoid touching your face/mouth, especially with unwashed hands;
  • avoid close contact with people and animals if illness is suspected;
  • stay at home if you are sick;
  • cough into a tissue or your elbow and then wash your hands immediately;
  • frequently clean and disinfect high-touch areas such as toilets, bedside tables and door handles with diluted bleach or a regular household cleaner; and
  • contact 811 if you develop a fever, cough or have difficulty breathing.

What should I be doing at the office to help reduce the spread of COVID-19?
Preparing for a public health event should be part of your own firm or organization’s business continuity planning. Having a plan will save valuable time and resources later. Some simple tips to consider include:

  • increase work area hygiene by cleaning door handles, desks, phones, etc. daily;
  • suspend conventional business etiquette such as hand shaking;
  • limit in-person meetings by leveraging technology, e.g. video conferencing;
  • plan for removal of work access and ensure staff have the access and tools needed;
  • notify clients and customers if work hours or your operations change;
  • keep your voicemail, website and/or social media updated regarding changes to your operations; and
  • review sick leave benefits and discuss with your staff in case self-quarantine is required.

This is not a complete list as there are many things to consider in your business continuity planning, but it’s a start. While current risk is low, there is no time like the present to plan for the future and build in systems that will protect your practice and your clients.

Loss Prevention Tips #36 and #37 which were sent out to the membership by the Insurance Programme are also instructive:

https://lsnl.ca/loss-prevention-tip-36/
https://lsnl.ca/loss-prevention-tip-37/

Here are some additional resources:
Disaster Planning and Recovery (Law Society of Alberta): https://www.lawsociety.ab.ca/resource-centre/disaster-planning-and-recovery/
When Bad Things Happen to Good Lawyers: Contingency Planning Guide (Law Society of Alberta): https://dvbat5idxh7ib.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/22203930/When-Bad-Things-Happen-to-Good-Lawyers.pdf
Pandemics and the Workplace: a Resource for Lawyers (Canadian Bar Association): https://www.cba.org/getattachment/Sections/Labour-Employment/Resources/Resources/2014/Pandemics-and-the-Workplace-A-Resource-for-Lawyers/PandemicEng.pdf
Pandemic Preparedness for Business (Canadian Chamber of Commerce): http://www.chamber.ca/resources/pandemic-preparedness/BusinessPrepGuidePanPrep2020

Are there special considerations for my practice if I’m going to work from home?
If lawyers choose to work remotely, they should consider whether all the key information they require is readily accessible and current. This includes client contact information, client files, staff and service provider contact information, bank account information, and passwords for personal and staff voicemail, computers and emails.

Lawyers should also consider how they will:

  • keep client information confidential from family members or others;
  • communicate with clients;
  • secure and receive deliveries to their offices; and
  • continue to delegate to, and appropriately supervise, staff.

Consider these practices and tips if working from home:

  • protect your passwords;
  • lock your computer if leaving it unattended;
  • work in a private area, particularly if you are video-conferencing or dialing into meetings;
  • safeguard physical records and documents – ensure that the information is only visible to you and emphasize to others that no one else is permitted to look at the documents. Lock them away if necessary;
  • avoid downloading firm or client documents onto home computers and devices where they can be accessed by others; and
  • be alert to cyber-security hazards and phishing, particularly in a disrupted environment. Home computer systems may also not have the same security levels as those in the office. If possible, it is best for staff to work remotely using a work-issued laptop with updated security. If not, they should ensure they have updated security and are using strong passwords.

If other staff will also be working remotely, lawyers must also ensure that they are able to maintain confidentiality in doing so.

I think I may have contracted COVID-19 – what should I do?
All residents of the province are urged to follow the advice of the Department of Health and Community Services. More information, including a self-assessment tool and guidance on when to seek help, can be found here.

What if I can’t continue to manage my practice because of illness?

In the event that a lawyer is unable to continue to manage his or her practice due to illness, he or she should have a power of attorney with respect to his or her law practice in place. For more information, you may want to consult contingency planning guides found in other jurisdictions, such as the Law Society of Ontario’s Contingency Planning Guide for Lawyers and the Law Society of Alberta’s When Bad Things Happen to Good Lawyers: Contingency Planning Guide.

Lawyers should also consider what specific tasks are impacted if staff are unable to attend the office and ensure that coverage is provided so that clients are not prejudiced.

What should I do if I decide to change my hours of business or there are other firm changes?
If lawyers are changing their business hours, if alternative means of communication will be used or there will be delays to communication, or if other changes to firm operations are anticipated, lawyers should communicate this information to clients and staff as soon as practicable. Lawyers may consider using email updates, notices on their websites, or other means, as appropriate, based on the needs of their clients and staff.

Practice Management
Are my professional obligations reduced or modified in the context of COVID-19?
Lawyers’ professional obligations continue to apply. If you wish to discuss a practice management issue with a member of the Law Society staff, please contact the Law Society.

I’m concerned about my professional liability – who should I contact?
For questions about professional liability in the context of COVID-19, lawyers should contact the Insurance Programme at (709) 722-6008 or by email at insurance@lsnl.ca

Keep in mind that all insured members are required to report a claim or potential claim as soon as practicable after learning of it. More information can be found here on the Law Society’s website.

How can I communicate effectively with my client while practising social distancing?
In the context of COVID-19, public health best practices include social distancing. Lawyers should consider conducting routine meetings with clients by phone or using video-conferencing options such as Zoom, Skype, Facetime and other platforms to comply with public health recommendations about social distancing. It is also important for lawyers to be aware of the types of engagements with clients that in typical circumstances would require an in-person meeting and that in the context of COVID-19 require a heightened risk-based approach if an in-person meeting is not going to be conducted.

Lawyers should be mindful of their obligations to communicate effectively with clients in selecting an alternative means of communication. Commentary [3] to Rule 3.2-1 of the Code of Professional Conduct provides that what is effective communication with the client will vary depending on the nature of the retainer, the needs and sophistication of the client, and the need for the client to make fully informed decisions and provide instructions.

In the context of COVID-19, if lawyers choose to change their means of client communication, they should consider notifying clients about the alternative means of communication that they intend to use as soon as practicable.

What can I do to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 if I must meet with clients or others?
In some situations, it may not be possible to avoid meeting with clients and others. Lawyers should therefore consider taking precautions to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19. This includes hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, environmental cleaning and social distancing. Examples of good social distancing include avoiding common greetings such as shaking hands and keeping a distance of at least 2 metres from others. For more information, review the recommendations set out in these public health resources provided by the Government of Canada and consider implementing them:

The Department of Health and Community Services also has helpful information on its COVID-19 webpage.

In the context of COVID-19, can a lawyer fulfil the requirements for client identification and verification over the phone or video?
Due to the recent outbreak of COVID-19, the Law Society understands that members may face challenges in meeting their obligations under the anti-money laundering and terrorist financing rules. While we continue to expect that members will do everything possible to meet all of their obligations, we recognize that it may be challenging to verify a client’s identity where the member and his/her client are unable to meet in person.

Members are reminded that the rules permit members to verify a client’s identity by two methods that do not require meeting face to face with the client – the dual process method or using information in a client’s credit file.

In addition, members should consider whether they may be able to rely upon the previous verification by another person (for example, a real estate agent) as permitted under the rules.

If however, a member is unable to available himself or herself of any other method, in these unique circumstances and as a last resort, the Law Society will take a reasonable approach in its compliance activity if the member were to conduct the verification of the client’s identity by using video conference technology, provided that:

  • the member can be reasonably satisfied that the government issued identification is valid and current;
  • the member can compare the image in the government issued identification with the client to be reasonably satisfied that it is the same person;
  • the member records, with the applicable date, the method by which the member verified the client’s identification;
  • the member treats the transaction as a high-risk transaction and continues to monitor the business relationship as a high-risk transaction; and
  • the member documents the efforts that were made to verify the client’s identity in accordance with the existing rules and the reasons why the member was unable to verify the client’s identity in accordance with the existing rules.

Members are reminded that fraudsters look to take advantage of unusual circumstances such as are being addressed here, and therefore, if a transaction presents too much of a risk, members should decline to act. For more information about risks, you may also want to consult the Federation of Law Societies’ Risk Advisories for the Legal Profession resource.

This guidance is intended to assist members experiencing challenges complying with the Client Identification and Verification Rules as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The guideline will remain in effect until further notice by the Law Society.

Can I commission a document remotely?
Commissioning documents is not regulated by the Law Society and the law in this area is evolving. It is recommended that lawyers conduct legal research to determine whether commissioning documents virtually is permitted.

The Law Society has reached out to the Department of Justice and Public Safety and the Courts regarding this issue and will provide updates to members as they become available.

If I determine that I can commission an affidavit through virtual means, are there ways I can manage the risk of doing so?
If virtual commissioning is deemed to be an option, you should be alert to the risks of doing so, which may include the following issues:

  • fraud;
  • identity theft;
  • undue influence;
  • duress;
  • capacity;
  • client left without copies of the documents executed remotely; and
  • client feels that they did not have an adequate opportunity to ask questions or request clarifying information about the documents they are executing.

To manage some of the risks:

  • consider whether there are red flags of fraud in the matter. To review these red flags, see the Federation of Law Societies’ Risk Advisories for the Legal Profession resource.
  • assess whether there is a risk that the client may be subject to undue influence or duress. If there is such a risk, consider if you are able to assist the client at this time without meeting in person.
  • determine how to provide the client with copies of the document executed remotely.
  • confirm your client’s understanding about the documents they are executing and provide adequate opportunity for them to ask questions during the video conference.
  • be alert to the fact that persons may attempt to use the current circumstances and resulting confusion as an opportunity to commit fraud or other illegal acts. Where lawyers choose to use virtual commissioning, they must be particularly alert to these red flags in order to ensure that they are not assisting, or being reckless in respect of any illegal activity.

What about client capacity? Can I assess it remotely?
Lawyers should continue to consult the relevant legislation and case law that govern capacity, and consider whether or not they have the ability to adequately assess a person’s capacity through remote means, such as on video conferencing or telephone.

The legislation applicable will depend on the context of the matter. The legal requirements for assessing a person’s capacity to make a decision are not regulated by the Law Society, and vary based on the task or decision at hand.

In using video conferencing or telephone as the exclusive means of communicating with a client, lawyers should also assess whether there is a risk that the client may be subject to undue influence or duress.

If I use video conferencing, what are some best practices I should keep in mind?
When using video conferencing for the provision of legal advice or services, it is recommended that lawyers do the following in addition to their normal practice for client meetings and telephone calls:

  • confirm the client’s consent to proceed in this manner.
  • ask that all individuals in the remote location introduce themselves.
  • ensure that there is no one else at the remote location who may be improperly influencing the client.
  • make sure that audio and video feeds are stable and that you can hear and see all parties.
  • where identification is produced to support verification of identity, ensure that a copy of the document is sent to you in advance of the online meeting and that when it is produced that the entire document is visible and legible.
  • maintain detailed records including: date, start and end time, method of communication, identity of all present, and minutes of content of meeting.

Can I use an electronic signature to execute documents?
This is a substantive legal issue which is context specific and the Law Society does not regulate how documents are executed. Lawyers should review applicable legislation to determine if electronic signatures are permitted in the context of their matters.

It seems like there are legal issues (e.g. limitation periods and being physically present to witness a will) which could be addressed through legislative change or direction from the Court – does the Law Society know if the Courts or the Department of Justice and Public Safety is contemplating any changes?
The Law Society is not aware if either the Courts or the Department of Justice and Public Safety are going to address these issues. The Law Society has, however, contacted them regarding the issues raised by the profession and updates will be provided to lawyers when they become available.

Information for the Public
Is my trial going ahead?
Court operations are not managed by the Law Society. Information about court operations and the impact of COVID-19 can be found on each court’s website:

Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador: https://court.nl.ca/provincial/
Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador (General Division): https://court.nl.ca/supreme/general/index.html
Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador (Family Division): https://court.nl.ca/supreme/family/index.html
Court of Appeal of Newfoundland and Labrador: https://www.court.nl.ca/appeal/

Am I still able to make a complaint against a lawyer?
Yes. Law Society staff are working from home but are still able to take complaints about lawyers. Please contact the Law Society for more information.

Is the Law Library open to the public?
No. Members and the public do not have access to the library until further notice.

March 27, 2020

Update Notice

As previously advised, we have been consulting with the Minister of Justice and Public Safety and his staff as well as Service NL on issues which impact on the public’s access to legal services.

To read the full update, please see here.

Client Information Disclosure Advisory

Please find attached an advisory intended to provide guidance to legal professionals testing or presumptively positive for the COVID-19 virus. The advisory suggests the appropriate action to take where lawyers are requested to disclose the name and contact information for clients who may have been exposed to the virus.

If you have any questions arising from the advisory, please direct them to the Director of Professional Responsibility, Lori Chafe at lchafe@lsnl.ca

COVID 19 Advice re Disclosure NL

March 25, 2020

Consultations with Government

We understand that these are trying times and that there are a myriad of issues arising for which you can find no easy answers. We want to reassure you that we are here and that we are consulting daily with the Minister of Justice and Public Safety and his staff on issues that impact on the public’s access to legal services. The Minister and his staff have been readily available and they are working hard to try to provide answers on the issues raised, including limitation periods and the witnessing/swearing of documents. However, these are unusual circumstances and it is possible that they may not be able to provide clarity on all issues.

In order to streamline the process and allow the Minister and his staff to focus on trying to find those answers, we are asking you to please direct your questions and concerns with respect to the public’s access to legal services to the Executive Director of the Law Society at bgrimes@lsnl.ca who will ensure that they are communicated appropriately.

In the meantime, we urge you again to ensure that you continue to provide legal services to the public in a manner that is compliant with the required social distancing and other protocols in effect during this public health emergency.

March 19, 2020

Library Service Notice

Library staff will continue to be in the building to provide reference assistance and books during regular business hours. Members, please note that your access cards have been deactivated and you cannot progress beyond the porch area.

The Law Library offers a scanning service for all members, regardless of location. During this state of emergency, we strongly encourage you to consider using our scanning service rather than requesting hard copy books.

For more information, please see here.

March 18, 2020

Operation of the Law Society during the COVID-19 Pandemic

After monitoring the rapid developments regarding COVID-19 and considering the advice of public health experts and government officials, the Law Society will be transitioning staff to work from home. Members can continue to contact Law Society staff via email: https://lsnl.ca/about-us/staff-directory/

For more information, please see here

 

Information and Updates from the Insurance Programme and Professionals’ Assistance Program

March 23, 2020

Loss Prevention Tip #38

Beware of Cybersecurity Risks During COVID-19 and Working from Home

March 19, 2020

COVID-19 – What Social Distancing Means for the Profession

Public health agencies have recommended a number of measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19, including social distancing. Notwithstanding the fact that there are some legislative requirements that require in-person contact with clients, we are recommending that all members practice social distancing.

For more information, please see here.

March 13, 2020

Loss Prevention Tip #36

Coronavirus and your Law Practice

Loss Prevention Tip #37

Practical Steps for Your Law Practice During this Coronavirus Pandemic

March 5, 2020

A Message from Homewood, Your Professional Assistance Provider

Information re: Coronavirus

 

Updates – Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador

March 30, 2020

Support Enforcement

In response to inquiries relating to Support Enforcement Matters, the Court has directed us to the following link:

https://www.gov.nl.ca/jps/childsupport/support-enforcement/

Support Enforcement has provided information for both payors (including those that may be experiencing a hardship as a result of an order) and recipients of support that may be helpful.

The Court has also noted that it will continue to deal with urgent and emergency requests in accordance with the notice to the profession issued on March 18, 2020, noted below.

March 27, 2020

Limitation Periods

We were asked to seek clarification on the meaning of “imminent” as stated in s. 5 of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Notice to the Profession and General Public, which states:

5. The Court registry will accept electronic filings (via email or fax) where a statutory deadline, or limitation period under the Limitations Act, S.N.L. 1995, c. L-16.1, is imminent.
In response, the Court has advised that it will accept electronic filings via email or fax where a limitation period is expiring while the court is operating with reduced resources and there is no direct access to the Court registry. The Court is asking members to exercise their discretion in good faith when making filings with the Court.

March 24, 2020

Notice to the Profession and General Public

The notice concerns Court appearances.

Notice to the Profession and General Public – COVID-19 Preventative Measures

March 20, 2020

Notice to the Profession and General Public

The notice addresses the Court’s processes regarding urgent filings, the requirement to have documents witnessed and limitation periods.

We have also been advised by the Court that its drop boxes are not currently being used. The Court is only accepting urgent filings through email or fax as outlined in the notice issued on March 18, 2020.

Notice to the Profession and General Public – COVID-19 Preventative Measures

March 18, 2020

Notice to the Profession and General Public

The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador is limiting regular operations in order to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in the community.

Please see the attached notice for more details.

Notice – Supreme Court NL

Family Division

At this time, Family Division can only hear applications about kidnapping/abduction of a child or immediate risk to the safety of a child. If the above applies to you, please call (709) 729-2573 or email familyinquiries@supreme.court.nl.ca

March 13, 2020

Suspension of Jury Trials – Supreme Court of NL

Please be advised that from March 17, 2020 to May 31, 2020 the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador will suspend the hearing of jury trials not otherwise in progress.

Please see the attached letter for more details.

March 13, 2020 – Letter – Suspension of Jury Trials

 

Updates – Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal

March 19, 2020

Notice to the Profession and General Public

As a result of recent Federal and Provincial Government’s public health advice and directives involving social distancing, the Court of Appeal is limiting regular operations in order to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in the community.

Please see the attached notice for more details.

Notice – Court of Appeal NL

 

Updates – Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador

March 30, 2020

Court Scheduling

As of Monday, March 30, 2020 the Provincial Court will not be operating from its courthouses. Public access is unavailable. For more info visit http://court.nl.ca

Revised COVID-19 Operational Plan – Provincial Court – Supplemental Information

March 25, 2020

Update – WASH Court

Please be advised that until further notice the Court will continue to use the teleconferencing procedures set out below for purposes of WASH Court.

In an effort to avoid any technical difficulties during WASH Court, we have set up a teleconference number to be used by all parties who will be attending the WASH Court session which will start at 11 am on each day.

For details, please see here.

March 24, 2020

Clarenville Provincial Court

Please be advised that effective Tuesday, March 24, 2020, Clarenville Provincial Court is closed until further notice as a precautionary measure due to possible third-party exposure of staff to COVID-19. Should you have any enquiries for Clarenville Provincial Court, please call 466-2635.

Accordingly, Provincial Court will implement the virtual court concept in the Clarenville Provincial Court effective Wednesday, March 25, 2020. Please see attached teleconference number listing as previously distributed.

COVID-19 Conference Call Stakeholder Listing

March 23, 2020

Effective Monday, March 23, 2020, public access to Provincial Courts will be restricted. Criminal matters to May 22, for those not in-custody, are being rescheduled for 10 weeks later.

For more information please see http://court.nl.ca

Update – CourtCall

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, it is strongly advised 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.

Revised – COVID-19 Operational Plan – Provincial Court

COVID-19 Conference Call Stakeholder Listing

March 20, 2020

WASH Court

For details, please see here.

March 19, 2020

WASH Court – Transport of In Custody Accused

This is to advise that commencing this coming weekend and for the duration of the Court’s reduced operations in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic (March 16, 2020 – May 22, 2020), there will be no transport of in custody accused to the Provincial Court in St. John’s from the St. John’s City lockup for purposes of in person WASH Court appearances. Any accused arrested in St. John’s jurisdiction will appear in WASH Court by telephone from the St. John’s City lockup. Counsel can speak to the accused either by telephone or by attending at the lockup.

 

Updates – Provincial Government 

COVID-19 information

March 26, 2020

WorkplaceNL – Adjustments to Requesting Legal Clearance

WorkplaceNL is operating with reduced staff to focus on core services. WorkplaceNL is committed to continued responses to legal clearance requests.

For more information, please see the attached notice.

Adjustments to Requesting Legal Clearance from Workplace NL

March 23, 2020

Update – Human Rights Commission

Please refer to the following www.thinkhumanrights.ca for the Human Rights complaint process.

Update – Commercial Registrations Division

  • Counter service is 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 snlregistryofdeeds@gov.nl.ca
  • 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 the drop boxes inside the doors. They 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 arrangements can be made
  • 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 they 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.

March 20, 2020

Department of Justice and Public Safety

Until further notice is provided, if you wish to serve documents related to child protection or adult protection matters, please contact Jacqueline Pelletier at jpelletier@gov.nl.ca to make arrangements.

If you wish to serve documents related to other civil matters on Her Majesty in right of Newfoundland and Labrador not related to Unified Family Court please contact either Philip Osborne at philiposborne@gov.nl.ca or Justin Mellor at jmellor@gov.nl.ca to make arrangements.

Labour Relations Board Update

Effective March 17, 2020, the Labour Relations Board has been operating on a remote basis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was based upon direction from government and it is consistent with protecting the health and safety of our staff, our stakeholders and the general public.

For more information, please see the attached notice.

Notice – Labour Relations Board

March 19, 2020

Update – Commercial Registrations Division

In response to the current situation, the Commercial Registrations Division has made changes to their service.

For more information, please see here.

RNC Community Update

Effective immediately, to further assist in preventing transmission of COVID-19, all Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) locations are closed for non-emergencies until further notice.

For more information, please see the RNC website.

March 18, 2020

Public Heath Emergency declared

March 17, 2020

Public Advisory: Update on Provincial Government Services

The Provincial Government is currently operating at a reduced capacity and there may be delays in service delivery. The nature and type of service provided is subject to change as government continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

For information on specific government services, please see the website.

Update – Information about Bail Supervision Program

As a result of the COVID-19 situation it has been decided that the Bail Supervision Pilot Program will not be starting today as previously indicated. The program will be on hold until further notice. Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

 

Updates – Federal Government

Health Canada

Canada’s Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic

March 19, 2020

Supreme Court of Canada – Filing of all documents by email

Out of concern for the health and safety of visitors and employees in light of COVID-19, the Supreme Court of Canada Building is closed to all visitors. However, the Court remains open for case-related matters, including filing of documents at the Registry.

To assist parties in filing their documents within their respective timelines as set out in the Supreme Court Act and the Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada, documents may be filed by email, whether originating or otherwise. The original paper copies shall be filed subsequently within a reasonable time.

For further information, please see the SCC website.