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Nova Scotia’s Supreme Court expands essential services model

Wednesday, April 22, 2020 @ 9:27 AM | By Terry Davidson

In an effort to prevent a future backlog due to the ongoing pandemic, Nova Scotia’s Supreme Court is “expanding its essential services model” to accept non-urgent civil motions electronically and the hardcopy filing of uncontested divorces and consent orders.

Effective April 21, the court’s general division will accept non-urgent “Motions by Correspondence” and applications “where all parties and the judge agree that the matter can be dealt with solely in writing.”

Documents being filed should be e-mailed or faxed to the appropriate court, states a press release.  

“Individuals who need to file documents but do not have access to a computer or fax machine should contact the courthouse for further directions. Court staff will attempt to be in touch within three ... business days of receiving your documents to advise which judge will be dealing with the matter.”

A link to a list of e-mail addresses and fax numbers for court locations can be found in the release.

Uncontested divorces and consent orders, however, should not be filed electronically. Instead, hardcopy documents must be filed directly with the court.

The release goes on to state that invoices for filing fees will be provided once the documents are accepted by the court. Payment will be done through an “invoicing system,” but individuals may be asked to pay using another method and court administrators should be asked for the appropriate method for that location.

“These measures will remain in effect until further notice,” the release states.

Like courts across the country, Nova Scotia’s Supreme Court has been limiting its operations in efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.  

Nova Scotia Judiciary communications director Jennifer Stairs said this latest move is a way of preventing future backlog.  

“From the beginning of this situation, the courts recognized that we would have to start considering ways to allow more matters to be filed and heard during the pandemic to help deal with the backlog of adjourned matters when the courts return to regular operations,” said Stairs. “Steps like this will help with that.”

Starting mid-March, the court began running under an “essential services model,” limiting its operations to urgent matters.

On March 26, it announced it would no longer accept hardcopy documents at its courthouses for these “urgent and essential” matters and advised lawyers and those self-representing to use e-mail or fax.