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Federal Court announces end of last suspension order

Monday, June 29, 2020 @ 3:48 PM | By John Schofield

Emerging from its COVID-19 closure, the Federal Court is poised to resume full proceedings across Canada with the expiration of its last remaining suspension period.

The Federal Court served notice in a June 25 practice direction and order that its suspension period for Ontario, Quebec, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon will expire at day’s end June 29.

A suspension period for all provinces and territories was declared March 17 and extended several times. The suspension period for Western Canada and Atlantic Canada expired June 15. Even during the suspension period, however, the Federal Court continued to hear urgent or exceptional matters by teleconference or videoconference.

To allow parties and their legal counsel to prepare for cases, the Federal Court practice direction and order stipulates that hearings will not be held in Ontario, Quebec or the three territories before Monday, July 27, and the timeline for filing documents and completing other procedural steps will be extended to July 13.

In the practice direction and order, the Federal Court urges parties and counsel to file documents via the e-filing portal. However, the court’s registry counters will open on June 29 with reduced staff. Viewing of court files at registry counters continues to be suspended.

“The registry will accept filings for paper copies of confidential documents only,” the practice direction notes. “All other documents to be filed should be e-filed, faxed or e-mailed. Parties who are not able to submit documents electronically may contact the registry by phone at 1-800-663-2096.”

The Federal Court will continue to hear all applications for judicial review and all general sittings by videoconference or teleconference, according to the practice direction.

“Requests to have such matters heard in person,” it reads, “will be considered and determined after considering recommendations by public health authorities, the availability of court staff and court officers, and any delays that may occur in reconfiguring the Court’s facilities to ensure that they are safe for all participants.”

Requests for general sittings should be made by submitting a letter under Rule 35(2) of the Federal Courts Rules to the registry via the court’s e-filing portal, the practice direction instructs. Applications for judicial review scheduled as a special sitting should be sent to within 14 days of the date of the scheduling order or direction. In-person hearings may take place later than the initially scheduled videoconference hearing, it adds.

“The mode of hearing for other proceedings, including motions, mediations and actions, will be determined after providing parties and their counsel with an opportunity to make representations in that regard,” reads the practice direction and order.

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