Appellate courts’ response to COVID-19 (updated)

Appellate courts across Canada have restricted operations to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 global health emergency. Each court has adopted its own approach to balancing its constitutional and statutory duties with the exigencies of the current situation, including the need for social distancing. Most previously scheduled appeals had been adjourned, and most appellate courts determined to hear urgent matters remotely by technological means. Some courts have additionally suspended filing deadlines and/or expanded the ability of parties to file documents electronically. As circumstances have changed, certain appellate courts have more recently begun to expand operations. 

Litigants and counsel with previously scheduled appeals should carefully review the applicable practice directions from the Court, as should litigants and counsel with upcoming filing deadlines. The chart below provides links to the most current guidance from the appellate courts, along with high-level summaries. As matters are developing rapidly, we have also included links to the websites of the appellate courts. We will be updating and republishing this chart periodically but encourage litigants and counsel to check for updates directly from the appellate courts’ websites.

Court

Appeal Hearings

Filing Deadlines

Electronic Filing

Current Guidance

Supreme Court of Canada

 

Appeals scheduled in March, April and May were adjourned. Certain of those hearings have been scheduled for June 2020, to be heard by video conference.

Certain other cases will be heard in September 2020. All other hearings postponed due to COVID-19 will be heard in the regular Fall session.

Deadlines imposed by order or the Rules have been suspended until further notice.

Deadlines imposed by statute (including the Supreme Court Act) remained in force until Parliament enacted Bill C-20 in July 2020, which suspends time limits under Acts of Parliament until September 13, 2020 (subject to court order).

All documents are to be filed by email, including originating documents.

News Release dated April 29, 2020

News Release

Answers to Questions

Federal Court of Appeal

 

The Court is hearing proceedings remotely, by online video conference, teleconference or in writing. Parties may communicate their preference to the Court.

Deadlines imposed by order or the Rules were suspended beginning March 16, 2020. The Court has released a plan for the gradual phase out of the suspension period. By default, the suspension period continues indefinitely. But every Monday beginning June 22, 2020, the Court will release lists of selected files where the suspension period will be lifted.

Deadlines imposed by statute (including the Federal Courts Act) are subject to Bill C-20, above.

Filing by email is strongly encouraged.

Recommended Measures for In-Person Operations

Requirements and Recommendations for Electronic Filing

Notice (March 19, 2020) [PDF]

Notice (March 16, 2020) [PDF]

Notice (April 2, 2020) [PDF]

Notice (April 15, 2020) [PDF]

Notice (May 12, 2020) [PDF]

Notice (May 28, 2020) [PDF]

Notice (June 11, 2020) [PDF]

B.C. Court of Appeal

 

Most matters scheduled between March 18, 2020 and May 1, 2020 were adjourned. Many of these appeals have been rescheduled for June/July, 2020.

The Court is hearing appeals in-person or by video conference, depending on the preference of counsel/litigants. Parties may also consent to have their appeal conducted in writing.

Time periods for existing matters are suspended until August 5, 2020 (except where mandated by order/direction). Parties are still encouraged to advance their appeals.

Time periods to commence civil or family appeals suspended until the state of emergency declaration ends.

In criminal matters, parties should continue to deliver notices of appeal or applications for leave to appeal within the required time periods.

Beginning July 14, 2020, all documents in civil appeals must be filed electronically by e-Filing. Paper, fax, or email filings are allowed in certain cases (including self-represented litigants).

Criminal filings must be received in paper, by fax, or by email.

Webinar (Modified Operations)

Webinar (Electronic Filing)

Updated Notice to the Public (July 22, 2020) [PDF]

Notice re Modified Filing Directions [PDF]

Updated Notice re Video Conferences [PDF]

Updated Notice re Public Access [PDF]

Flowchart [PDF]

Notice regarding Affidavits [PDF]

Message (April 7, 2020) [PDF]

Court of Appeal of Alberta

 

The Court of Appeal is operating at full hearing capacity.

Appeals and applications before three-judge panels will be heard by video conference or telephone, unless all parties consent to an adjournment or a written hearing. Requests for in-person oral hearings will be entertained.

For appeals not yet set for a hearing, certain deadlines falling on or before May 4, 2020 were extended by two months.

For appeals set for hearing and not adjourned, the deadlines remain in effect.

All documents may be filed by email or fax until further notice.

The Court will launch an e-filing system on August 31, 2020.

E-Filing

Updated Notice re Electronic Hearings

Notice re Confidentiality or Privacy Concerns

Letter dated May 6, 2020 [PDF]

Notice dated March 26, 2020

Notice dated March 23, 2020

Notice re Affidavits

Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan

 

Hearings before three-judge panels will be heard by teleconference or video conference, unless the parties consent to an adjournment or written hearing. Requests for in-person oral hearings will be entertained.

Deadlines for notices of appeal and applications for leave to appeal remain in force.

For deadlines not prescribed by statute, parties may write to the Registrar in advance of the deadline to request an extension.

Documents may be delivered via eCourt filing, email, regular mail, or fax.

Notice [PDF]

Manitoba Court of Appeal

 

Beginning April 20, 2020, all appeals were heard by video conference, and all motions and applications were  heard by teleconference.

The Court will resume in-person appeal hearings for the Fall session, beginning August 24, 2020 (assuming the public health situation remains stable).

Filing deadlines remain in place. Judges will be mindful of the circumstances when assessing extension requests.

 

Registry remains open for filing in the normal course, but social distancing measures will be in place.

Notice re Hearings (Updated) [PDF]

Notice re Filing Deadlines [PDF]

Notice re Affidavits [PDF]

Notice re Release of Judgments [PDF]

 

Court of Appeal for Ontario

 

No in-person hearings will be conducted during the emergency. All matters (appeals and motions) will be heard by remote appearance or in writing. Beginning July 6, 2020, the Court will be using the Zoom service.

Deadlines for civil and provincial offence appeals are to be reinstated effective July 16, 2020. With certain exceptions, the period from March 16, 2020 to July 15, 2020 will not be included in the calculation of time.

Beginning July 16, 2020, unless otherwise directed or approved by the Court, the regular prescribed times will apply to all criminal appeals. Unless otherwise directed or approved, the period from March 16, 2020 to July 15, 2020 will not be considered in the calculation of time.

All documents that are required for hearings are to be filed in electronic format only.  Documents to be filed by email or USB.

Notice re Zoom

Practice Directions re: Reinstatement of Times (June 25, 2020)

Direction re: Manner of Service (Criminal)

Notice

Amended Practice Direction re: Electronic Conduct of Matters [PDF]

Practice Direction re: Bail Pending Appeal [PDF]

Practice Direction re Extension of Time [PDF]

Amended Practice Direction - Criminal [PDF]

Practice Direction - Criminal (Service etc.) [PDF]

Practice Direction - Provincial Offences [PDF]

Practice Direction - Release Order [PDF]

Notice re: Urgent Family Law Appeals [PDF]

Notice re: Court Call

Notice re: Filing

Divisional Court (Ontario)

 

The Court’s schedule of cases is entirely suspended until September 4, 2020. For cases  scheduled for after September 4, 2020, hearings will  proceed on the scheduled dates.

Urgent matters will continue to be heard, including urgent Divisional Court appeals and requests for judicial review related to COVID-19.

Non-urgent matters may be scheduled to be heard by teleconference or video conference starting April 6, 2020, subject to available resources. 

A provincial executive Order has suspended all limitations periods and time periods within which steps must be taken for the duration of the emergency (subject to the discretion of the court).

Documents required for remote hearings to be filed electronically as directed by Divisional Court staff.

 

Notice re: Requests for Virtual Hearings

Updated Div. Ct. Notice (June 29, 2020)

SCJ Notice (June 25, 2020)

Consolidated SCJ Notice (with links to regional notices)

Order re: Time periods [PDF]

Notice re: Emailed material

Memo dated March 27, 2020

Best Practices for Remote Hearings

Quebec Court of Appeal

 

Hearings up to the week of May 11, 2020 were postponed.

As of May 25, 2020, the Court will resume hearings of appeals and panel motions, to be heard by video conference.

Parties may jointly request that the Court decide the appeal without a hearing.

The suspension of time limits in civil matters and penal matters will be lifted as of September 1, 2020.

Time limits in criminal matters are not suspended.

 

Pleadings in civil matters may be served or notified by technological means, subject to certain exceptions.

Update

Suspension Lifted

Pleadings in Civil Matters

Postponement of Hearings

Virtual Courtrooms

New Brunswick Court of Appeal

 

Perfected appeals are being scheduled to be heard in the usual manner. The Court of Appeal  aimed to resume in-person hearings for its June appeals.

Requests for adjournments will be considered by the Chief Justice or a designated motion judge.

The Court’s previous directive regarding the time limits for filing and service of documents under Rules 62 and 63 of the Rules of Court has been revoked.

Documents should be filed by email or fax (with other options where this is not possible).

Notice (June 1, 2020) [PDF]

Updated Directive [PDF]

Nova Scotia Court of Appeal

 

All hearings scheduled for the March/April term (except two appeals) and the May/June term were adjourned. Those matters were rescheduled for Fall.

In-person appeals are not presently possible. All appeals will be heard by remote appearance or in writing.

 

New filing dates have been set to reflect new hearing dates for appeals previously scheduled for the March/April and May/June terms.

Time periods under the Rules for commencing civil appeals and criminal appeals was suspended until June 26, 2020.

Counsel and parties are permitted and encouraged to file electronically. However, the Court of Appeal continues to accept paper filing.

Practice Directive for Hearings

FAQs [PDF]

Notice dated June 5, 2020 [PDF]

Notice dated March 27, 2020 [PDF]

Notice dated March 16, 2020 [PDF]

P.E.I. Court of Appeal

 

Regular operations were suspended between March and mid-May. The Court is now hearing appeals by appropriate means (in person or by video or audio).

Limitations periods are still in force.

Court administration encourages the use of drop box for filing.

Message from Chief Justice [PDF]

Practice Direction [PDF]

Electronic Hearings [PDF]

Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal

 

The Court of Appeal is hearing appeals by way of video conference or teleconference.

Effective July 2, 2020, the Court will hear certain applications in-person. The Court is  planning to resume in-person appeal hearings in September 2020.

Not currently affected.

Parties must submit documents electronically by email or fax.

Notice dated June 17, 2020

Notice dated June 1, 2020 [PDF]

Notice (Update) [PDF]

Notice [PDF]

NWT Court of Appeal

 

The next regular sittings will be held on October 27, 2020. The parties will be advised once a determination has been made as to whether the sittings will proceed by videoconference or in-person.

Not currently affected.

Not currently affected.

Notice (Updated) [PDF]

Yukon Court of Appeal

 

The Court of Appeal will hear all hearings by video conference.

The next sittings in the Yukon are scheduled for November 16-20, 2020.

Not currently affected.

Not currently affected.

Calendar [PDF]

Notice (July 15, 2020) [PDF]

Nunavut Court of Appeal

 

The sitting scheduled for May 12, 2020 has been cancelled. Matters were spoken to on July 22, 2020.

Not currently affected.

Not currently affected.

Memo

 

 

 

 

[1] The Federal Court of Appeal has advised that parties may seek an extension of the time periods to commence appeals and applications under the Federal Courts Act after the time periods expire, and that the judges would take the suspension period into account when exercising their discretion.

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Sopinka and Gelowitz on the Conduct of an Appeal, 4th Edition

Appellate litigators and judges have turned to Sopinka and Gelowitz on the Conduct of an Appeal for guidance since its first publication in 1993. Now in its fourth edition, this authoritative text remains the go-to resource for both novice and seasoned litigators seeking direction on best practices in preparing and presenting appeals. Originally written by former Supreme Court of Canada Justice John Sopinka and Osler partner and litigator Mark Gelowitz, this latest edition adds Osler’s David Rankin as co-author. This up-to-date version is the most current textbook available on appellate practice in Canada and is invaluable for lawyers looking to avoid costly errors while gaining a deep understanding of the procedural and jurisdictional aspects of launching and conducting appeals.

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