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Virtual court options expanding throughout Nova Scotia

Thursday, June 11, 2020 @ 3:32 PM | By Terry Davidson

Nova Scotia’s Supreme Court General Division is now expanding throughout the province its virtual options for certain non-urgent civil matters.

According to a June 10 notice, virtual hearings and settlement conferences were first introduced at Halifax’s Law Courts as part of expanding services during the COVID-19 health crisis.

But these services “are now available at all Supreme Court locations across the province.”

“Further to the May 7, 2020, directive, the Supreme Court has expanded the eligibility criteria for virtual court hearings to permit matters with documentary exhibits and viva voce evidence, including cross-examination, as well as civil matters that can be dealt with in three days or less. As well, witnesses who testify remotely in virtual court hearings will now be affirmed,” states the notice. “With these developments, judges and counsel in some Supreme Court (General Division) matters may now agree that it is possible for their trial to proceed virtually.”

Counsel with a matter they feel meet the “expanded eligibility criteria and feel it would be appropriate to proceed virtually should contact their local scheduler.”

Those considering virtual hearings are encouraged to review Best Practices for Remote Hearings, developed by the Ontario’s E-Hearings Task Force.

“Virtual court options will be an important part of the Supreme Court’s pandemic recovery plan in the coming months. These remote appearances allow the Court to hear more matters without the need for additional staff working at the courthouse and in instances where courtrooms are too small to proceed in-person while respecting social distancing.”

As of June 10, Nova Scotia had 1,061 cumulative confirmed cases of COVID-19, five active cases and had experienced 62 deaths, according to a government website.