Focus On

SCC postpones March hearings, but leaves filing deadlines intact for now

Tuesday, March 17, 2020 @ 1:52 PM | By Cristin Schmitz

The Supreme Court of Canada has announced that it is postponing hearings in March, but for now the filing deadlines for appeals and the hearings scheduled for the spring session, remain in place.

“For the time being,” the top court also said it is continuing to issue decisions on appeals and on leave to appeal applications.

In a statement March 16, Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Richard Wagner announced “proactive and preventative measures” the top court is taking to protect participants in the justice system and to reduce the spread of COVID-19 that “balance the need to protect the health and safety of all with the need to maintain judicial operations.”

Chief Justice Wagner said the hearings scheduled for March 24, 25 and 26, in the cases of A.G. Saskatchewan v. A.G. Canada, A.G. Ontario v. A.G. Canada and Estate of Bernard Sherman v. Kevin Donovan are “tentatively” rescheduled to June 2020. “All other currently scheduled hearings remain on the agenda until further notice,” the chief justice advised. “Parties may seek adjournments or request to appear via teleconference or video link. Out of respect for the open courts principle, the press and media will be allowed to attend the hearings in person.”

Chief Justice Wagner said physical access to the Supreme Court’s building in Ottawa is restricted to those “who are necessary to the proceedings before the court.”

“At this time, there are no changes to filing deadlines,” the Supreme Court said in a notice on its website.

However, requirements for filing court documents under the Supreme Court Act and Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada are modified. Litigants can file originating and other documents by e-mail. “The original paper copies shall be filed subsequently within a reasonable time,” the Supreme Court said. “There are some changes in respect of deliveries of court documents.If there are four or more boxes of documents, the delivery should be made to the west entrance of the court as usual. If there are three or fewer boxes of documents, they may be deposited at the court’s east entrance. “As there are no facilities at the east entrance to process filing fees, you are requested to contact the registry for instructions,” the court said.

The court “strongly encouraged” litigants with questions related to cases, including filing requirements, to contact the court by e-mail at The court said it anticipates having a reduced capacity to respond to telephone inquiries.

Chief Justice Wagner stipulated that the court will continue to issue judgments on applications for leave and on appeal “for the time being.”

All media briefings on judgments on appeal will only be provided by teleconference, until further notice.

And all currently scheduled public events at the court, as well as guided tours, are cancelled until further notice.

“In collaboration with the court’s senior officials, I will continue to monitor the situation and work on contingency planning,” Chief Justice Wagner said. “We recognize that this situation is rapidly evolving and will continue to provide information on any changes in the court’s operations by updating the court’s website as required.”