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Halifax’s domestic violence court to restart

Friday, May 22, 2020 @ 12:50 PM | By Terry Davidson

One of Nova Scotia’s two courts specializing in domestic violence will soon resume hearings for scheduled matters via telephone and start docketing new applications to the program later this summer.

According to a May 21 notice, the domestic violence court in Halifax will resume telehearings for scheduled matters on June 10. New applications to the program will be placed on the docket for consideration starting July 8.

A separate notice will be issued regarding matters at the court’s counterpart in Sydney.

This is the latest step by the province’s court system to restart operations after having to join courts across Canada in shutting down and scaling back due to the COVID-19 health crisis.

“Throughout the pandemic, accused individuals and their families already accepted in the Domestic Violence Court Program have had access to all the government and community supports and services they need to fulfill their individualized support plans,” states the May 21 notice. “That work is continuing without the individuals having to appear physically in court. 

“To respect public health advice regarding social distancing, starting in June, the Halifax court team will meet Wednesday mornings by telephone to discuss the upcoming docket, including those already in the program, as well as new admissions. Private defence counsel will be able to join this call to discuss their client’s matter.”

The court will then go on to deal with that day’s matters “as a recorded teleconference.” Participants needing to call in for the proceedings will receive instructions on doing this from their lawyers. However, the notice goes on to state that most participants will not need to phone in, as counsel will appear on their behalf whenever possible.

The notice adds that counsel with questions about the process should contact the domestic violence court program co-ordinator. Contact information is provided in the notice, as well as that for domestic violence resources.

Nova Scotia’s Domestic Violence Court Program was first piloted in provincial court in Sydney in 2012. It has since become permanent and in early 2018 was expanded to the Halifax Regional Municipality.

According to the court’s webpage, the program “is more responsive to the needs of people affected by domestic violence,” offers “meaningful interventions at an earlier stage” and “takes a trauma-informed, collaborative approach that supports healthier relationships and will help protect survivors and their families from future abuse.”

The Halifax court sits on Wednesdays and the one in Sydney usually sits on Thursdays.