In last week’s blog, we covered how Alberta’s courts have reacted to COVID-19, including scheduled trials being delayed with the exception of those dealing in urgent matters. We’d like to take an opportunity this week to continue to inform our readers of what is happening in the province’s courts as COVID-19 continues to impact our lives.
Anybody with a family, civil, criminal court or a Provincial Offences/traffic court appearance scheduled in the Alberta Provincial Court is being told not to attend unless the matter relates to an in-custody or urgent criminal matter, or an urgent family or child protection matter.
In addition, no members of the public will be allowed inside Alberta’s courthouses unless their presence is required for a court matter. This includes parties, witnesses, media, etc. Lawyers may have access to the courts for urgent court-related business only.
The courts have also asked that anybody who has been advised to self-isolate to stay away from courthouses in person
The courts have announced that all provincial court civil matters, including trials, chambers list applications, and pretrial conferences scheduled to be heard prior to May 22, 2020, have been adjourned indefinitely. Those scheduled for after May 22 are remaining scheduled for the time being, but those involved are asked to call the civil division hotlines to stay up to date on these matters. The number to call in Edmonton is 780-644-7638. The number to call in Calgary is 403-297-7219.
As of today, the courts will only be filing urgent/time-sensitive documents that meet one of the following criteria:
- Civil Claims where the limitation period/date is about to expire;
- Applications and Affidavits for extending time for service of a Civil Claim that will soon expire;
- Dispute Notes and other time-sensitive pleadings;
- Notices of Appeals;
- Applications that are of an emergent nature (such as setting aside a judgment where collection proceedings have commenced, or Landlord/Tenant matters where safety is an issue); and
- Please note: the Court will determine if the Application will be filed, and if and when the hearing will be set.
Non-urgent family court matters have been adjourned for 10 weeks if originally scheduled between March 16 and May 22. However, some urgent matters are still being heard, including:
- Matters with statutory limitations or deadlines;
- Where there is the risk of violence or immediate harm to one of the parties or the child;
- Where there is risk of removal of a child;
- Apprehension orders;
- Initial Custody Hearings;
- First appearance after apprehension;
- Mandatory reviews or show causes under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, Protection of Children Abusing Drugs Act, Protection of Sexually Exploited Children Act, Mandatory Drug Testing and Disclosure Act, and Mental Health Act;
- Emergency protection orders;
- Family Pre-Trial Conferences and Child Protection Case Management Meetings and will be conducted by telephone unless adjourned; and
- Child Protection Hearing where the parties have consented to a return, Supervision order, Temporary Guardianship Order or Permanent Guardianship Order will occur as agreed by counsel or as directed by the court.
If you have a situation which is listed above, please contact your courthouse to see if it is open at this time.
Given the current situation of COVID-19 in our province and the strong recommendation of ‘social distancing’, we will be operating a bit differently for the next little while. Our business remains open, but for the health and safety of all members of our community, we will not be having in-person meetings, questionings or any client engagements in our office. Your matters are extremely important to us and we want to ensure you that business will not be disrupted. If you have any questions we encourage you to contact your lawyer responsible for your file directly. For all other questions or concerns, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s continue to take care of each other during this difficult time