View Printable Page
      Articles & Media
      News
      Blogs
      Archives

  PUBLICATIONS

 Register to receive Publications via email

Filter Publications contents by Topic:



 



A Comprehensive Update on Operational Changes Impacting all Levels of Court in Alberta

01-Jun-20

By Kimberly Wasylenchuk

Overview:

The Courts provided an update on the operational changes that arose due to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • The Provincial Government has committed $27 million to improve Alberta’s Justice System technologically. The Court and Provincial Government have agreed that an e-fling system (with a case management system) for the trial courts is now a top priority.
  • During the pandemic, the trial courts have remained open and have been hearing urgent matters in all areas of the trial courts’ jurisdiction.
  • In the last eight weeks, the Court of Queen’s Bench has implemented new processes for remote Judicial Dispute Resolution hearings (“JDR’s”), emergency/urgent matters and electronic desk procedures for applications in Masters and Justice Chambers.
  • Urgent commercial matters will continue to be heard in the Court of Queen’s Bench.
  • All scheduled pre-trial conferences, simplified trials and binding dispute resolution hearings in Provincial Court are proceeding over the next six weeks via videoconference or audioconference.
  • The trial courts are in the process of equipping some of the courtrooms with plexiglass shields in Edmonton, Calgary and other judicial centres to facilitate the commencement of in-person trials.
  • Beginning June 1, 2020, the Court of Queen’s Bench will start to schedule four trial courtrooms, equipped with plexiglass shielding, for in-person trials in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer and Lethbridge.
  • The Court of Queen’s Bench will not be taking its annual summer recess and will instead be conducting as many hearings, as circumstances allow, through July and August to reduce the current backlog. JDR’s will be offered over the entire summer with preference given to proceedings adjourned due to COVID-19.
  • The May 6, 2020, correspondence can be found here.

Update to Ministerial Order 27/2020 – Suspension of Limitation Periods:

  • On March 30, 2020, the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General issued a ministerial Order suspending the limitation periods and periods of time within which any step must be taken in any proceeding or intended proceeding, from March 17, 2020 – June 1, 2020.
  • Ministerial Order 27/2020 will not be extended.
  • All limitation periods and time periods affected by the Order will resume running on June 1, 2020.

Court of Appeal:

The Court of Appeal has been operating at full capacity during this crisis period. An estimated 90% of scheduled hearings were successfully completed in the month of April.

The Court of Appeal has heard, and continues to hear, all appeals and applications virtually, by electronic means (videoconference or audioconference) or, if the parties choose, by writing only.

The Court of Appeal Management System Project has re-started with a target date of August 31, 2020, for the launch of the public e-filing portal.

Court of Queen’s Bench:

Overview of current operations:

  • Requests for hearing of emergency and urgent matters in all areas are submitted via an online fillable application form, reviewed by a triage Justice, then heard by Emergency Duty Justices, often by videoconference or teleconference,
  • Masters are hearing emergency and urgent matters and considering desk applications within their jurisdiction.

In relation to all JDR’s and civil trials that were cancelled between March 16, 2020, - May 1, 2020:

  • The Court is contacting counsel to determine if the parties would like to pursue a JDR.
  • The non-binding civil JDR’s scheduled for between May 1, 2020, and May 31, 2020, are being rescheduled for hearing via WebEx videoconference as of May 4, 2020.

On May 5, 2020, the Court released the Commercial Roster Justice list to facilitate scheduling of urgent and emergency commercial matters:

  • The June 2020 roster Justice has not been posted as of May 29, 2020.
  • The Court expects to expand the commercial matters it will be able to accommodate via teleconference and videoconference.  

As of May 11, 2020, the Court announced electronic Without Notice applications before a Master in Chambers would be accepted province wide.

  • In order to submit a Without Notice application to the Court, an applicant must comply with the following procedure:
  • The applicant must submit any material in support of the application (including an affidavit) and the proposed form of Order;
  • The response to the application will be returned by the Court via email with an electronically signed Order or an Endorsement Sheet requesting further information or the Master’s reasons for denying the application,
  • More information can be found here.

On May 14, 2020, the Court announced an extension of its limitation of hearings to emergency and urgent matters only, until June 26, 2020. More information can be found here.

As of May 19, 2020, the Court is now considering With Notice applications (where the parties are represented by counsel) to be heard in Masters Chambers by desk application with written argument:

  • The ability to submit a With Notice Desk application is not limited to specific matters.
  • Counsel must agree to proceed in this manner and the agreement to proceed must be confirmed via Consent Order.
  • The desk application will be submitted to a Master for consideration. The Court’s response to the desk application will be returned via email.
  • More information can be found here.

On May 21, 2020, the Court announced electronic Without Notice applications before a Justice in Chambers would be accepted province wide. The same procedural process applies to these applications as outlined above.

More information can be found here.

On May 25, 2020, the Court took a significant step towards reopening by now considering With Notice applications (where the parties are represented by counsel) to be heard in Civil Justice Chambers by desk application with written argument:

  • The Court will hear the following (non-exhaustive) list of matters:
    • Master Appeals;
    • Appeals from Provincial Court (Civil);
    • Estate Matters (such as interim instructions, advise and directions);
    • Minor’s Property settlements or settlements involving a person under Trusteeship Order;
    • Forfeiture matters.
  • The Court will not hear the following (non-exhaustive) matters:
    • Landlord/Tenant Appeals; and
    • Contempt Orders.
  • Counsel must agree to proceed in this manner and the agreement to proceed must be confirmed via Consent Order.
  • The desk application will be submitted to a Justice for consideration. The Court’s response will be returned via email.
  • More information can be found here.

On May 28, 2020, the Court announced that effective June 3, 2020, all Masters province-wide will commence regular hearings of applications in Masters Chambers remotely via WebEx videoconference or audioconference.

  • In Edmonton and Calgary – Regular Masters Chambers will be heard at 10:00 am every Court sitting day Tuesday – Friday. Bankruptcy lists will be held at 10:00 am every Monday the Court is sitting.
  • Regional Courts – Masters Chambers will be held at 10:00 am in accordance with the available sitting dates.
  • Regular Masters Chambers will be reserved for those parties that are unable to use the Consent Order, Electronic Without Notice or With Notice desk application processes.

Effective June 3, 2020, the Court will commence regular hearings of Civil Justice applications remotely via WebEx videoconference or audioconference in Edmonton and Calgary.

  • Regular Civil Justice Chambers will continue to be held at 10:00 am every Court sitting day.
  • Regular Civil Justice Chambers will be reserved for parties who are unable to use the Consent Order, Electronic Without Notice or With Notice desk application processes.

Effective June 3, 2020, the Court will commence regular hearings of Civil Justice applications remotely via WebEx videoconference or audioconference in all regional base and circuit sitting points.

  • Regional Justice Chambers will be held at the dates and times published in the Court Calendar. Additional dates may be provided if demand and resources allow.
  • Regional Justice Chambers will be reserved for parties who are unable to use the Consent Order, Electronic Without Notice or With Notice desk application processes.

More information can be found here.

Provincial Court:

On May 13, 2020, the Provincial Court of Alberta released its Resumption Plan – Stage I:

  • The Resumption Plan – Stage I covers the period of May 22, 2020 – through to and including July 3, 2020.
  • The plan is predicated on the Court’s ability to respect all public health guidelines in place from time to time. The operations outlined the this plan may vary based on location.
  • Access to Provincial Courthouses continues to be restricted to only those persons necessary to the proceedings before the Court and members of the media.
  • A list of locations that continue to operate (on a reduced scale) can be found here.
  • All other circuit courts remain closed until further notice. Matters in these circuit courts are being handled out of one of the associated base locations.
  • With respect to the Provincial Court Civil Division:
    • No in-person attendances shall be permitted at any court location.
    • Emergency  and urgent applications will continue to be heard according to the protocols in place.
    • Pre-trial conferences, simplified trials and binding judicial dispute matters presently scheduled through May 25, 2020 - July 3, 2020, will proceed as scheduled by teleconference or videoconference only.
    • Trials presently scheduled after May 25, 2020, (other than simplified trials) will be case managed by a Judge. Parties will be contacted in advance of the Trial date and a case management conference will be held by teleconference or videoconference.
    • Applications that can be heard by teleconference may be scheduled and the usual requirements, regarding filing and service of notice of the application and supporting documents, will apply.
    • Desk applications will be received in the drop boxes in Edmonton and Calgary or as directed by the regional courts.
    • Urgent matters only will be accepted for filing at the counters and non-urgent matters to be filed will be received in the drop boxes in Edmonton, Calgary or as directed by the regional courts.  

The Courts in Alberta have been working to implement new procedures and practices to ensure the continuity of Court services in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The recent updates coming out of the trial courts is signaling that we are slowly moving towards a resumption of full court services.

The McLennan Ross Litigation Team will continue to monitor the operational changes impacting the Alberta Courts and provide comprehensive updates as they become available.

Real Time Web Analytics