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Update on Operational Changes Impacting Alberta Courts


By McLennan Ross Litigation Team

Court of Appeal:

  • As of April 1, 2020, the Alberta Court of Appeal adopted the Court of Queen’s Bench practice in relation to remote commissioning of Affidavits. We covered this development in our previous update that can be found here.
  • As of April 8, 2020, the Alberta Court of Appeal opened the electronic hearings of the Court to the participants, their counsel and the accredited media. However, at this time the Court is not able to accommodate attendance of non-participants in electronic hearings due to logistical and practical issues.
    • A Case Management Officer will resolve any questions arising about who is entitled to participate in an electronic hearing.
    • Counsel and self-represented litigants: the Court’s Registry will coordinate attendance.
    • Media: Members of the accredited media may participate in the electronic hearing by contacting the appropriate Registry for instructions.

Court of Queen’s Bench:

  • The Court continues to hear emergency and urgent matters. The matters of the highest priority are set out in the Court’s Appendix B which can be found here.
  • Civil Matters:
    • Orders relating to the pandemic, including quarantine orders;
    • Injunctions, where there is prima facie urgency, including refusal of treatment/end of life matters;
    • Civil Restraining Orders;
    • Preservation Orders;
    • Urgent Orders in the nature of habeas corpus, certiorari, mandamus and prohibition.
  • Surrogate Matters:
    • Emergency Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Orders, where there is a risk of harm to an individual or their property.
  • Subject to prior approval by a Master or Justice, those matters that do not rise to the level of first priority but still require the matter to proceed in a timely way may be heard:
    • Urgent Adult Guardianship & Trusteeship Orders;
    • Urgent or time sensitive commercial matters where there are immediate and significant financial consequences with no judicial hearing;
    • Urgent Surrogate  Orders;
    • Anton-Piller or Mareva type injunctions; and
    • Freezing Orders.
  • As of April 14, 2020, the Court has, until further notice, modified certain execution and filing requirements related to grants of probate and administration:
    • Affidavits that must be filed may be completed in accordance with the Notice to the Profession and Public: Remote Commissioning of Affidavits. This issue was covered in a prior update that can be found here: (insert link)
    • Where a surrogate matter deals with an Original Will, the procedure under the Surrogate Rules have been modified to accommodate challenges arising from COVID – 19. Further information can be found here.
    • The Surrogate Rules and Wills and Succession Act were amended, with the new amendments reflected in the Surrogate Rules Amendment Regulation, AR 37/2020 and Justice Statutes Amendment Act, RSA 2014 c. J-13.
    • More information on the legislative amendments and changes to Surrogate forms can be found here.
  • In response to COVID – 19, the Court is conducting an increased number of hearings by videoconference or audio conference, to protect the integrity of the Court:
    • Parties participating in an audio or video conference must sign the Undertaking and Agreement of Non-Lawyer.
    • The Undertaking requires any non-lawyer participant to agree to not to record or rebroadcast in any manner the Court proceedings in which they participate.
  • The Court put together a list of Frequently Asked Questions addressing the recent disruptions in Court services. More information can be found here.
  • On April 21, 2020, the Court extended the suspension of regular operations in Master Order #3. More information can be found here.
    • All Court of Queen’s Bench Orders received via email or fax have the same force and effect as if they contain an original signature;
    • The gowning requirement has been suspended and parties are expected to dress in appropriate business attire;
    • All Civil matters scheduled for March 16, 2020 – May 31, 2020 are adjourned sine die;
    • All filing deadlines under the Alberta Rules of Court, including Rule 13.41(4) are suspended until May 31, 2020, with the exception of those Rules that apply to the commencement of proceedings including originating applications;
    • The Court will only hear emergency and urgent matters as set out in Appendix D to the Order. The Court has discretion to hear matters other than those listed and decline to hear a matter listed; and
    • Parties and counsel who believe their matter is an emergency or urgent are directed not to attend the Courthouse. If a matter is an emergency or urgent, a request must be submitted online.
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