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 have been adjourned, and most appellant courts will 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.

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) remain in force.

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

 

Appeals scheduled up to May 15, 2020 were adjourned.

Urgent matters will be heard by teleconference.

Parties to appeals ready to be heard by March 13, 2020 may on consent ask to have the matter heard remotely or in writing.

The Court is also reviewing its list of cases to determine what should progress, presently in writing or by remote hearing.

Deadlines imposed by order or the Rules are suspended from March 16 to May 29, 2020. The Court may order that the suspension does not apply to particular cases selected to progress.

Deadlines imposed by statute (including the Federal Courts Act) are in force.[1]

Filing by email is strongly encouraged.

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]

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.

Beginning May 4, 2020, the Court will hear all appeals, including those that are not urgent, by video conference, unless otherwise directed. Appeals may also proceed in writing on consent.

Time periods for existing matters suspended until June 1, 2020 (except where mandated by order/direction).

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

Time periods to commence criminal appeals remain in force.

Beginning May 4, 2020, all parties must use electronic filing for civil appeals (with certain exceptions).  Factums and transcripts are to be filed by email.

Factums, transcripts and statements in criminal appeals are to be filed by email. Options are provided for criminal filings that cannot be submitted electronically.

Webinar

Updated Notice to the Public (April 20, 2020) [PDF]

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

 

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 are 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.

Letter dated May 6, 2020 [PDF]

Notice dated March 26, 2020

Notice dated March 23, 2020

Notice re Affidavits

Notice re Electronic Hearings

Ministerial Order [PDF]

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

 

Appeals and chamber matters were suspended until April 17, 2020.

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

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.

All matters to be heard on or after April 14, 2020 will be conducted under the Practice Direction dated April 6, 2020.

Deadlines for civil appeals extended until further direction by the Court, with exceptions for: urgent family law appeals; where the Court directs that the regular timelines apply; scheduled, non-adjourned hearings; and case managed proceedings.

Certain deadlines for criminal appeals extended up to September 30, 2020.

Deadlines for provincial offence matters extended, with exceptions for: where the Court directs that regular timelines apply; COVID-19 related matters; scheduled, non-adjourned hearings; and case managed hearings.

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

Q&A re Practice Directions

Notice

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)

 

All matters scheduled on or after March 17, 2020 are adjourned. However, Divisional Court matters scheduled for in-person hearings after August 31, 2020 are still scheduled for those dates for now.

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 (generally through email).

 

 

Updated Div. Ct. Notice

Consolidated SCJ Notice (with links to regional notices)

Order re: Time periods [PDF]

Notice re: Emailed material

Memo dated March 27, 2020

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.

Deadlines in civil matters have been suspended during the emergency period (currently until May 27, 2020).

Certain deadlines in penal matters are suspended, except for urgent matters

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

Pleadings in Civil Matters

Extension of state of emergency

Postponement of Hearings

Virtual Courtrooms

New Brunswick Court of Appeal

 

Perfected appeals are being scheduled to be heard in the usual manner and will be heard by video or telephone conference, as the court may direct. 

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

Certain documents to be filed or procedures to be taken under Rules 62 and 63 of the Rules of Court may be filed or taken up to 30 days from the date that the Directive is revoked. This does not apply to non-discretionary statutory time limits or deadlines set by court order.

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

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.

Matters determined by the court to be urgent or essential will proceed (likely by telephone).

 

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 will be suspended until June 26, 2020.

Counsel and parties are encouraged to request permission to file electronically by email and hold off on filing paper copies.

FAQs [PDF]

Notice dated March 27, 2020 [PDF]

Notice dated March 16, 2020 [PDF]

P.E.I. Court of Appeal

 

No new appeals will be scheduled until the end of May, except appeals or motions assessed by the Court to be urgent, essential or emergency.

Pre-hearing conferences are being held for scheduled appeals to explore the potential for a remote hearing or hearing in writing.

Limitations periods are still in force.

Counsel is asked to consider whether filing is necessary or whether it can wait until after the Registry is working with a more fulsome staffing situation.

Document filing at courthouses is limited to urgent or necessary documents. All other documents should be filed by email.

Updated message from Chief Justices [PDF]

Notice to Members of the Law Society [PDF]

Notice to Members of the Law Society (No. 2) [PDF]

Practice Direction [PDF]

FAQ [PDF]

Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal

 

All scheduled appeals will be suspended until further notice. Scheduled applications will proceed by telephone or video conference.

The Court has notified parties with appeals scheduled for May and June, 2020 that the Court is prepared to hear these appeals by video conference technology.

Not currently affected.

Parties must submit documents electronically by email or fax.

Notice (Update) [PDF]

Notice [PDF]

NWT Court of Appeal

 

The list of pending Court of Appeal cases will be called on May 8, 2020, with counsel and parties  appearing by telephone. The Court will advise counsel at that time of the accommodations available for the June 16, 2020 sittings.

Not currently affected.

Not currently affected.

Notice [PDF]

Yukon Court of Appeal

 

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

Not currently affected.

Not currently affected.

N/A

Nunavut Court of Appeal

 

The sitting scheduled for May 12, 2020 has been cancelled.

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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