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Supreme Court to start early with in-person hearings, reinstate civil deadlines

Friday, August 28, 2020 @ 3:35 PM | By Terry Davidson

Last Updated: Sunday, August 30, 2020 @ 10:59 AM

The Supreme Court of Canada will resume in-person hearings as part of an early start to its fall session and is lifting its suspension of filing deadlines for civil proceedings.

According to an Aug. 27 news release, the early start, set to begin Sept. 22, is to hear cases that were sidelined due to the pandemic.

The Supreme Court, which usually does not sit in September, would have started its fall session on Oct. 6 under normal circumstances, confirmed a representative of the court.

“The early start to the session will allow the court to hear all cases previously postponed due to COVID-19 before continuing with the original schedule for the session,” states the news release. “Hearings will take place in person, with measures in place in the courtroom to meet physical distancing requirements, and by way of videoconference for those counsel who cannot attend the hearing in Ottawa.”

The court had stopped holding in-person hearings and closed its doors to the public as part of widespread efforts to stop the spread of the virus.   

The release notes that while the courthouse will remain closed to visitors, hearings will be livestreamed on the Supreme Court’s website.

In a separate notice to the profession, the court also announced that the suspension of filing deadlines for civil matters put in place in March will “expire” Sept. 13.

According to the notice, e-mail will play a part in easing the process.  

“To assist parties in filing their documents within the time limits set out in the Supreme Court Act and the Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada, documents — whether originating or otherwise — may be filed by e-mail,” it states. “The original paper copies shall be filed subsequently within a reasonable time. Excepted from this directive are the requirements for filing paper copies of the appeal documents that are set out in Rules 35, 36 and 37.”

According to Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada, rules 35, 36 and 37 deal the responsibilities of appellants, respondents and interveners to file documents with all involved parties, as well as with the registrar.  

The notice goes on to state that the “provisions of Rule 77 are extended to judgments and reasons for judgment” and that they “will be deemed to be signed if they bear a facsimile of the judge’s signature.”

Rule 77 involves orders having to be signed either by the judge who made the order or by the registrar.

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