Update – 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 31 – February 25, 2022.
OPERATIONS FROM JANUARY 31-FEBRUARY 25, 2022
For the period running from January 31-February 25, 2022, all Supreme Court General Division and Family Division judicial centres will move to a hybrid in-person/virtual services model. Under this model, the Court will resume hearing some matters in-person, while continuing to conduct most of its business virtually. 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, which are continually updated. Everyone permitted to enter a courthouse is required to keep appropriate distance from others, sanitize their hands frequently and wear a mask. The mask must be a 3-layer mask that is large enough to completely cover the nose, mouth and chin, without gaps, and be comfortable, so that it does not require frequent adjustment. Court attendees are expected to bring their own masks. In the event that a Court attendee’s mask is unsuitable, one will be provided.
Criminal, civil and family trials scheduled to begin between January 31 and February 25, 2022, may proceed in-person. Counsel and parties are encouraged, however, to identify trials that could be conducted virtually or to identify trial participants that could appear remotely. Where that is the case, and with the approval of the presiding judge, Court staff members will contact the parties to make arrangements for the conduct of the trial.
All hearings that are set to be heard virtually will proceed. Hearings that are set to be heard in-person may proceed, but each of these will be assessed by Court staff members, in consultation with the judiciary, to determine if they may be appropriately heard virtually or if one or more participants could appear remotely. Where that is the case, and with the sapproval of the presiding judge, Court staff members will contact the parties to make arrangements for the conduct of the hearing.
No new in-person hearings will be scheduled for this period, unless they are urgent. Urgent matters would include the following:
- 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.
Other matters that a judge determines to be urgent may also proceed in-person.
Conferences will continue virtually.
Filing and Processing Documents
Supreme Court courthouses will remain open for the weeks of January 31-February 25, 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 (note that urgent in-person service may be provided in the absence of an appointment).
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, or need other assistance on an urgent basis, 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.
Notice to the Profession and General Public – Supreme Court Operations for February 2022