Courts to Resume Activities as the COVID-19 Crisis Cools Off (Slightly…)

By Mariella De Stefano, from our Insurance Law Practice Group

May 28, 2020 — The threat of the coronavirus is far from over. Yet, some activities slowly resume. The Courts, which were almost paralyzed for over two months, are gradually adjusting to the new reality. What will the impact be?

The Superior Court of Quebec is preparing to progressively resume its activities as of June 1, 2020. The goal is to hear half of the trials that had been scheduled for the month of June. Priority will be given as follows:

  • Urgent matters including family matters;
  • Files which may be heard by means other than being present in the Courtroom, via virtual means, videoconferences or telephone conferences;
  • Files where the presence of witnesses is not necessary;
  • Civil matters of short duration.

The Court of Quebec which hear matters less than $85,000 has also established progressive measures for its activities commencing June 1. Cases of an urgent nature as well as those classified as being priority in nature will be dealt with first.

The Courts will have complete discretion to determine which files should be postponed. The ultimate goal is to hear as many cases as possible and to eventually resume normal activities; however, this will depend on the health situation, government restrictions and availability of the judges, courtrooms and personnel.

You will recall that the Minister of Justice in conjunction with the Chief Justice of Quebec had issued a ministerial order on March 15, 2020, for the suspension of all limitation periods until the Government of Quebec announces the end of the current state of emergency, which has been extended until June 3. As the Courts resume their activities progressively, we foresee that the delays which were suspended temporarily, including prescription periods and procedural delays will be lifted. Once the suspension is lifted, those delays are extended by the amount of days the state of emergency lasted.

Please note that the above are general comments: the conditions for the reopening of judicial activities will vary between the various courts and tribunals, and between judicial districts.

If you have any ongoing judicial activity, you should contact your lawyer for specific advice.

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