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Alberta courts issue updates on pandemic operational plans

Friday, May 15, 2020 @ 10:58 AM | By Ian Burns

The Alberta provincial court and Court of Queen’s Bench have released a number of updates to operational procedures as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

The provincial court has issued part one of its staged resumption of court operations plan. The court announced that the plan covers the period May 25 through to and including July 3, and outlines its operations for that time period. It is predicated on the court’s ability to respect all public health guidelines in place from time to time. As a result of the variety of courthouses and courtrooms presently in operation in the province and the resulting ability to respect public health guidelines, the operations outlined in this plan may vary from location to location.

The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench is extending its limitation of hearings to emergency and urgent matters only to June 26, and the adjournment of criminal jury trials and jury selections to Sept. 8, per the court's master order on May 14. Civil and family special chambers applications, in justice and masters’ chambers, that were scheduled prior to March 16 to be heard on or after June 29 will proceed as scheduled. Counsel are encouraged to consider proceeding by way of written submissions only.

In addition, the court is implementing a family docket court in Calgary and Edmonton. All family matters must first be scheduled in family docket court before any other court process can be scheduled. It is anticipated that the first sittings of the family docket court will occur in the week of May 18. The purpose of family docket court is to allow the court to better assess what services and court processes will best serve a family’s needs and to better manage family law matters coming into the court. The focus will be on reducing lead times and referring parties to processes that will reduce the amount of conflict to which any children are being exposed.