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, including in-person hearings and lifting the suspension of deadlines. 

Litigants and counsel 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 were scheduled for June 2020, to be heard by video conference.

Certain other cases were to 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 the end of the day on September 13, 2020.

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

All documents are to be filed by email, including originating documents. Once the suspension period ends, parties will be required to file paper copies of certain (but not all) documents.

Notice

News Release dated April 29, 2020

News Release

Answers to Questions

Federal Court of Appeal

 

Three types of hearings are being held for the Fall session beginning September 1, 2020: (1) all counsel in person; (2) all counsel appearing remotely; and (3) some counsel in person and others appearing remotely.

Deadlines imposed by order or the Rules were suspended beginning March 16, 2020. The Court is gradually phasing out 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.

The Court of Appeal has interpreted in a Reference that Bill C-20 does not affect time limits under the Rules and does not retroactively oust orders or Practice Directions of the Court, such as the phase out of the suspension periods under the Rules.

Filing by email is strongly encouraged.

Reference re: Bill C-20

Resumption of In-Person Hearings

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 were 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 were suspended until September 14, 2020 (except where mandated by order/direction). This extension will not be further extended.

Time periods to commence civil or family appeals are suspended until after 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.

Updated Notice to the Public (August 19, 2020) [PDF]

Webinar (Modified Operations)

Webinar (Electronic Filing)

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.

The Court of Appeal will continue to use electronic hearings until at least November 1, 2020.

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 launched an e-filing system on August 31, 2020.

Electronic Hearing Update

Practice Direction on E-Filing [PDF]

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 resumed in-person appeal hearings for the Fall session, beginning August 24, 2020.

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

 

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

Notice dated September 28, 2020 [PDF]

Notice re Masks (No. 2) [PDF]

Notice re Masks [PDF]

Notice to the Profession [PDF]

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

 

In-person hearings had been suspended. As of October 26, 2020, hearings may occur: (i) in-person; (ii) by video and/or audio conference; or (iii) in writing.

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 only required to be filed in electronic format. Documents are to be filed by email or USB.

October 2020 Practice Direction re: Electronic Conduct of Hearings [PDF]

Guidelines for filing Electronic Documents (Update)

Protocol for In-Person Hearings

Notice re Zoom

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

Direction re: Manner of Service (Criminal)

Practice Direction re: Bail Pending Appeal [PDF]

Practice Direction - Release Order [PDF]

Notice re: Court Call

Notice re: Filing

Divisional Court (Ontario)

 

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

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

A provincial executive Order 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). Limitations periods resumed on September 14, 2020.

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

 

Consolidated SCJ Notice (Updated) (with links to regional notices)

Caselines Project

Notice re Landlord and Tenant Board Appeals

Notice re: Requests for Virtual Hearings

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

SCJ Notice (June 25, 2020)

Order re: Time periods

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 resumed hearings of appeals and panel motions, to be heard by video conference.

As of August 31, 2020, litigants have the choice of attending in person  for appeal hearings or participating via 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 was lifted as of September 1, 2020.

Time limits in criminal matters were not suspended.

 

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

Resumption of Court Activities

Order dated August 31, 2020 [PDF]

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, although parties or counsel may request to appear by video or teleconference.

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

Certain limitation periods for commencing a proceeding and time periods in a proceeding resumed running on September 19, 2020.

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

Updated and Consolidated 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.

For the Fall term, there will be four formats for appeals: in writing; by teleconference or video conference; in-person; or through a combination of in-person and remote.

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 were 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.

Protocols for Appeal Hearings [PDF]

Practice Directive for Appeal Proceedings

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 was hearing appeals by way of video conference or teleconference.

As of September 2020, the Court will hear appeals and applications in-person or by video conference.

Not currently affected.

Parties were to submit documents electronically by email or fax.

Replacement Notice dated September 16, 2020 [PDF]

NWT Court of Appeal

 

The next sitting of the Court of Appeal is scheduled for October 27, 2020 and will proceed by videoconference.

The pending list will be called on November 20, 2020. Counsel and parties are encouraged to appear by phone but may attend 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

 

 

 

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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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