Today, the Honourable Calum MacLeod, Regional Senior Justice, Superior Court of Justice, released the below Interim Notice to the Profession in the East Region.
Pending release of a more comprehensive Notice or Practice Direction, please take notice of the following key points as we transition from pandemic restrictions to more normal court operations:
- Capacity limits on court rooms and court houses have been lifted by the Ministry of the Attorney General and front door COVID-19 screening has also been ended. Plexiglass and other retrofitting is to be removed by the end of June 2022.
- There remains significant COVID-19 infection in the community, which has the potential to disrupt court operations. Currently, self-screening, masking and social distancing are still encouraged.
- The presiding judge or associate judge at in-person hearings retains the discretion to require masking and other appropriate safety measures during the hearing.
- There are new presumptive guidelines for the mode of hearing for various Superior Court of Justice matters and a new guideline for "Virtual Court Room Etiquette". Both of these come into force on April 19, 2022, subject to Regional or Local variation in some instances.
- The guidelines may be found on the Ontario Courts web site by following this link: Provincial Guidelines. "Virtual Courtroom Etiquette" may be found at this link: Courtroom Etiquette.
- The court will be preparing new comprehensive Provincial, Regional and Local notices to replace the various notices and practice directions implemented during the pandemic. We expect to release these in the near future as circumstances allow.
- In the interim, unless advised or directed otherwise, any case conferences, settlement conferences, pre-trials, motions or applications that were scheduled as virtual hearings will remain virtual. Trials will gradually transition to in-person unless the parties wish the trial to be virtual and the presiding judge agrees.
- For new matters, over the coming months, we will be implementing the guidelines except to the extent that those guidelines are modified by local directives. On a transitional basis, running lists that are not pre-booked will continue virtually until otherwise directed and for matters that are pre-booked, parties will be advised of the mode of proceeding when the event is booked.
- Please note that return to "in-person" does not mean that the court will be abandoning new technology. Electronic filing should be the norm. Use of CaseLines will be required for most hearings. Virtual hearings will take place on the Zoom videoconferencing platform.
- Civil jury trials will resume across the Region by no later than April 25, 2022.