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N.S. Supreme Court stops accepting hard copy documents, turns to electronic filing

Thursday, March 26, 2020 @ 12:02 PM | By Terry Davidson

In efforts to increase social distancing, Nova Scotia’s Supreme Court is no longer accepting hard copy documents at its courthouses and advising lawyers and the self-representing to use e-mail or fax for “urgent and essential matters.”  

A March 26 press release announcing the new directive came with an attached list of e-mail addresses and fax numbers for the province’s Supreme Court locations.

The directive includes the court’s Family Division.

“These measures further reduce the number of people who need to visit the courthouses in person and help protect the health and well-being of the employees and judges still working at the courthouses,” it states. “Last week, the Supreme Court adopted an essential services model. Proceedings in the Supreme Court, including Family Division, will be limited to urgent or essential matters, as determined by a judge. Those matters that do proceed will be handled primarily by telephone or video. Social distancing measures will be practised for those few court matters that proceed in person.”

Since last week, the Supreme Court, like courts across the country, has been running under an “essential services model” in efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The notice stresses that documents should not be filed “unless they are related to an urgent or essential matter,” and that those related to cases not starting in the immediate future “should be held until the court has resumed normal operations.”

A single document filed by e-mail or fax must be limited to 50 pages. Also, the court is temporarily relaxing Civil Procedure Rules and will accept unsworn affidavits until further notice (unless a judge says otherwise). 

“A sworn copy of the affidavit is required at the hearing,” it states. “Alternatively, the individual will be required to affirm their affidavit evidence at the hearing.”

On March 22, Nova Scotia declared a state of emergency. As of March 25, there were 68 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province, according to the government’s website.