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Nova Scotia court to launch pilot for electronic filing by police

Tuesday, January 26, 2021 @ 9:38 AM | By Terry Davidson

Changes made to operations due to the pandemic have prompted Nova Scotia’s provincial court to launch a pilot project in two urban centres that will allow police to fax criminal charges needing to be sworn.

Before the COVID-19 health crisis hit in March 2020, police had to visit courthouses to have these information forms sworn, according to a Jan. 25 news release

After that, when courthouses were forced to adhere to physical distancing by limiting access and turning to electronic and virtual communications, the provincial court adopted a process allowing police to fax informations to the Justice of the Peace Centre for matters in the Halifax Regional Municipality or to the court administration office for courthouses in other parts of the province.

The new pilot will now allow police to fax these documents in the Halifax and Dartmouth provincial courts, starting Feb. 1. 

“During the pandemic, the Justice of the Peace Centre was essentially operating as a middle man, receiving and then redirecting the criminal Informations to the Court,” said Nova Scotia Judiciary communications director Jennifer Stairs. “This new process eliminates that step, so the paperwork is faxed directly to the Court Administration office in either Halifax or Dartmouth.”

Informations are documents listing criminal charges against a person, confirmed Stairs. 

“Effective Feb. 1, 2021, all new Informations to be laid in Halifax and Dartmouth (including release documents to be confirmed) will be received by fax in the Court Administration Office in Dartmouth, pursuant to Sec. 508.1(1) of the Criminal Code,” states the release. “When submitting these documents, law enforcement agencies are expected to use the new fillable PDF fax cover sheet. The fax number for the Court Administration Office is included in the cover sheet.”

A link to the cover sheet is provided in the release.

An exception to the pilot will be any “daily Cells matters,” which “will continue to be received by fax through the Justice of the Peace Centre …”

The Halifax-Dartmouth pilot will run until July 31, at which point it will be evaluated and considerations will be made whether to expand it to other provincial courts in Nova Scotia.

“Under the new process, law enforcement agencies will no longer need to courier copies of the faxed documents to the Halifax or Dartmouth courthouses,” states the release. “Law enforcement agencies and the Public Prosecution offices for the Halifax Regional Municipality, the Province of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada will receive a scanned copy of the original Information (with included confirmed release documents) from the Court Administration Office after it has been entered in the JEIN [Justice Enterprise Information Network] system.”

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