Supreme Court Operations
For the information of all stakeholders, this Notice outlines the planned changes to the Supreme Court’s operations for the General Division and Family Division in all judicial centres from January 5 – January 28, 2022.
This updated Notice is being issued as a result of the Special Measures Order (Province-Wide Alert Level 4) issued by the Chief Medical Officer of Health on January 3, 2022, which raised the COVID-19 Alert Level for all areas of province.
OPERATIONS FROM JANUARY 5-28, 2022
For the period running from January 5-28, 2022, all Supreme Court General Division and Family Division judicial centres will move to a virtual services model. During this period, the General Division and Family Division will hear matters virtually, as further discussed below. These centres will also continue to hear any urgent or emergency matter that arises. Those matters will also be held virtually, unless a judge determines that the urgent or emergency matter must be held in-person. Additional details of the Supreme Court’s operations for this period are provided below.
Note that any matter that proceeds in-person 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 Court will examine all criminal, civil and family matters proceeding to trial in the weeks of January 5-28, 2022, to determine if the trial can be appropriately conducted by videoconference. If so, court staff members will be in contact with the parties to make arrangements to proceed with the trial virtually.
Trials that cannot proceed in this manner will be postponed, unless a judge orders otherwise. Court staff members will be in contact with the parties in such matters to reschedule the trial date as soon as possible.
Hearings and Conferences
Subject to the availability of teleconferencing or videoconferencing equipment and the exceptions noted below, all hearings and conferences will be held virtually.
While the preference will be for all hearings and conferences to proceed virtually, where necessary the following matters may proceed in-person:
- Criminal Proceedings – bail hearings, bail review applications where the accused is in custody, and detention reviews.
- Family Proceedings – 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 Children, Youth and Families Act; and new applications under the Adult Protection Act.
Additionally, a judge may, in their discretion, direct that a matter will proceed in-person.
Parties will be contacted by court staff members as soon as possible to provide details regarding proceeding virtually or, where applicable, in-person.
Filing and Processing Documents
Supreme Court courthouses will remain open for the weeks of January 5-28, 2022. All persons are encouraged to use the drop boxes at the front of the courthouses for contactless drop-off and pick-up of documents. The drop boxes and mail hubs are accessible during the Court’s normal business hours. Documents that are delivered in the drop boxes less than one hour before the Court’s normal closing time will be time stamped as received on the following business day.
Where necessary, individuals may attend at the Registry counter for in-person service. In the St. John’s General Division and Family Division courthouses, individuals must make an appointment using the online scheduling system.
Please also note the following:
- Email filings will not be accepted (with the exception of email filings permitted in accordance with Practice Note P.N. 2020-03).
- For documents left in a drop box, filing fees must be paid in one of the following ways: (1) the filing party may include a cheque enclosed with the document being filed; or (2) the filing party may provide a contact name and number with the document so that the Court can process a credit card payment by phone.
- Forms may be downloaded from the Court’s website.
- Processing times may be delayed owing to reduced staffing levels.
CONTACTING THE COURT
If you are seeking an urgent hearing or you have questions about your upcoming appearance, please contact the applicable Registry using the contact information in the Notice.
PUBLIC AND MEDIA ACCESS TO VIRTUAL TRIALS AND HEARINGS
The Court will continue facilitating virtual attendance by members of the media and the public at virtual trials and hearings. To find out what matters are proceeding and when, please consult the Court’s docket posted on the Court’s website.
For details on how to attend a virtual trial or hearing, please consult the Supreme Court’s COVID-19 Guidelines.
The Supreme Court will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation across the province to determine whether any further changes to operations are required. Please continue to consult the Court’s website and Twitter account (@NLSupremeCourt) for the most up-to-date information.