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Supreme Court of NL – Notice to the Profession and General Public

Re: All Supreme Court Centres Suspending Normal Operations for Week of February 15-19, 2021

In response to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the Province and the Special Measures Order (General – Alert Level 5), issued on February 12, 2021, all Supreme Court judicial centres across the Province will be suspending normal operations for the week of February 15-19, 2021. Essential public service will be maintained. Details are provided below.

Trials, Hearings and Conferences Adjourned

Subject to the exceptions noted below, all criminal, family and civil matters scheduled in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador (General and Family Division) for the week of February 15-19, 2021, are adjourned without parties having to appear. This applies Province wide and includes both in-person and virtual matters.

The presiding judge may direct that a matter scheduled for the week of February 15-19, 2021, will proceed. Parties will be notified of any such direction.

The following criminal matters will be proceeding: bail hearings, bail review applications where the accused is in custody, and detention reviews.

If an accused in a criminal matter is not in custody and has an appearance scheduled in the Supreme Court during the week of February 15-19, 2021, the Court will adjourn the matter without the accused being present using a Court Order called a “bench warrant with discretion” which will require the accused to attend Court on a later date. The accused and the Crown will be advised by the Court of the new court date.

All other adjourned matters will be rescheduled as soon as possible. Court staff members will be in contact with parties to provide a rescheduled date.

Filing and Processing Documents

All Supreme Court Registries will be closed for the week of February 15-19, 2021, and no access will be provided to mail drop boxes. Non-urgent filings will not be accepted.

Urgent filings may be sent by email to the appropriate address listed in the attached notice.

The Court registry will accept email filings where the expiry of a limitation period is imminent, in accordance with Practice Note P.N. 2020-03. Electronically filed documents will be issued as of the date they are received by the Court.

Forms may be downloaded from the Court’s website.

Where it is not possible to file a sworn/affirmed affidavit, affidavits may be delivered unsworn/unaffirmed. Similarly, where it is not possible to obtain a signature from a person authorized to administer oaths, parties may file documents electronically without that signature. The Court may require that a party/affiant participate in a telephone or videoconference hearing to swear/affirm to facts contained in an affidavit or other document. The Court may require original documents to be filed before granting any order.

The payment of any applicable filing fees will be postponed and addressed by the presiding judge.

Where a document must be issued, the Court will email a copy of the issued document to the appropriate party.

The Court will extend all periods contained in the Rules of the Supreme Court, 1986, that require or authorize a person to do or abstain from doing any act in a proceeding. This includes periods for service, filing, or amendment of any pleading or other document. Please note, however, that the Court retains discretion to refuse to grant extensions of time where to do so would be an abuse of process or unfairly prejudicial to a party.

Processing times may be delayed owing to reduced staffing levels.

Urgent Matters

The Supreme Court will continue to hear urgent and emergency matters during the week of February 15-19, 2021. If you are seeking an urgent hearing, please contact the applicable Registry using the contact information in the attached notice.

If your matter was set for the week of February 15-19, 2021, and you believe this matter was urgent, you may contact the applicable Registry for further directions.

All urgent requests and filings will be triaged by a judge to determine if they may proceed.

Note that the following family proceedings will be considered urgent:

  • requests for urgent relief relating to the safety of a child or parent;
  • applications relating to medical decisions or wrongful removal of a child;
  • applications to preserve property or assets;
  • warrants under the CYFS Act; and
  • new applications under the Adult Protection Act

The Court will provide directions to the parties regarding how and when an urgent hearing will be conducted.

If a judge directs that a matter will proceed in-person, the matter will be held in accordance with the COVID-19 Guidelines issued by the Court. Note that everyone permitted to enter a courthouse is required to wear a mask, keep appropriate distance from others, and sanitize their hands frequently.


The Supreme Court will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation across the province to determine whether any further changes to operations are required. An update will be provided next week. Please continue to consult the Court’s website and Twitter account (@NLSupremeCourt) for the most up-to-date information.