Alberta Courts’ Response to COVID-19
The Courts have implemented several changes to encourage social distancing in accordance with the recommendations of the government and public health authority. Some of these changes relevant to civil practice include:
- The Court of Queen’s Bench has adjourned all matters scheduled between March 16, 2020 and May 1, 2020 sine die and is currently limiting hearings to urgent and emergent matters (read more about this here). Hearing requests can be submitted online.
- The Court of Queen’s Bench has also suspended all filing deadlines under the Rules of Court except those relating to the commencement of proceedings.
- The Court of Queen’s Bench has put in place an enhanced e-mail filing system now available to lawyers in Alberta permitting lawyers to file all documents capable of being fax filed by e-mail in their local jurisdiction.
- The Court of Queen’s Bench announced that affidavits for use in civil or family proceedings may be sworn using video technology if it is not possible or medically safe for the deponent to attend in person to swear the affidavit. This practice has been adopted by the Court of Appeal.
- The Courts have restricted all access to the courthouses until further notice, effective March 30, 2020, and are encouraging lawyers to take advantage of the enhanced fax and e-mail filing systems.
- The Court of Queen’s Bench announced that lawyers may submit Master and Justice Consent orders for processing via e-mail.
- The Court of Appeal continues to hear appeals, applications, and motions remotely using telephone or videoconferencing.
- The Court of Appeal has announced that where an appeal has not yet been set for hearing, and the deadline to order the appeal record or file appeal materials falls on or prior to May 4, 2020, the deadline is extended by two months. Otherwise all deadlines remain in effect. All deadlines relevant to appeals which have already been set, and have not been adjourned, remain in effect. Filing deadlines for applications and commencement documents continue to apply.
- The Court of Appeal is encouraging fax or e-mail filing of all documents until further notice.
- The Provincial Court has also limited the matters it will be hearing. The list of matters being heard at all levels of court can be found here.
- Traffic Courts are currently closed and individuals with scheduled applications or hearings are to contact the Court in advance of their scheduled matter by telephone, e-mail or fax.
- The Minister of Justice and Solicitor General has issued a Ministerial Order suspending limitation periods under a number of enactments, including the Limitations Act, from March 17, 2020 to June 1, 2020. The Order provides that the limitation period will resume running on June 1st and the time between March 17, 2020 and June 1, 2020 will not count. The Order also provides that any step that must be taken in a proceeding or intended proceeding is suspended subject to judicial discretion for this same period of time.
- The Minister of Justice and Solicitor General has issued new Orders in Council regarding the use of electronic documents in Provincial Court.
This is a dynamic and evolving situation and there may continue to be updates as time goes on. Should you have any questions about how these changes affect your claim you can contact us here.