On June 11, 2020 the Federal Court (FC) and Federal Court of Appeal (FCA) published updated notices to gradually phase out the Suspension Period, which had previously been extended to June 15, 2020.
The FC’s June 11, 2020 Practice Direction and Order (Updated Order), amends its previous Practice Directions, which, subject to the amendments listed, continue to remain in force. The Updated Order provides for different procedures by region.
Ontario, Québec and the Territories
Suspension Period: Subject to the five exceptions listed in April 29th practice direction, the Suspension Period is extended until June 29, 2020, in Ontario, Québec and in the three territories. The 14-day buffer at the end of the Suspension Period for the filing of documents and other procedural steps ends on July 13, 2020. The Registry counters in Ontario, Québec and the territories will remain closed until further notice.
Hearings: All hearings that had previously been scheduled to take place from July 11 to July 26, 2020 in these regions are adjourned sine die, and no hearings will be scheduled until July 27, 2020. The FC encourages parties and counsel to consider having the matters move forward electronically, and to have the matters determined by video conference, teleconference or in writing, as provided in the April 29th practice direction.
Western Canada and Atlantic Canada
Suspension Period: The Suspension Period described in the FC’s May 29th Practice Direction, which we discuss here, will expire on June 15, 2020 in the four provinces of Western Canada (British-Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba) and the four provinces of Atlantic Canada (Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island) (collectively, the two Regions). Timelines for filing documents in the two Regions are extended to June 29, 2020. Exceptions are available where one or more counsel or a self-represented party are located outside the two Regions. The Court’s Registry counters in Western and Atlantic Canada will reopen on June 29, 2020 with reduced staff to accept paper documents. The FC continues to encourage e-filing of documents wherever possible. according to procedures set out in the April 4th practice direction. Proceedings that are being Case Managed will continue to be subject to the discretion of Case Management Judge.
Hearings: The FC will not be holding hearings in the two Regions until July 13, 2020. The cases that are, or will be, moving forward under one of the five exceptions listed in the April 29th Practice Direction (discussed here) are not subject to the provisions listed in this paragraph.
The FC will continue to schedule applications for judicial review by video conference, and exceptionally, by teleconference. The FC will consider requests to have these applications heard in person taking into account the recommendations of public health authorities, and the availability of court staff and officers.
General Sittings and Fees
General Sittings in Western and Atlantic Canada remain cancelled until July 12, 2020, and until July 26, 2020 in Ontario, Québec and in the three territories. When General Sittings resume, all motions will be heard by videoconference or teleconference until further notice. Requests to have these matters held in person can be submitted to the FC.
Federal Court of Appeal
In its June 11, 2020 Notice to the Parties and the Profession (Updated Notice), the FCA announced that until further notice, the Suspension Period is extended indefinitely, except for the files being selected to go forward and files already released from the Suspension Period. This Updated Notice supersedes any prior Notice to the contrary.
The FCA will lift the Suspension Period for certain files (Selected Files).
Parties may bring motions by informal letter to have their files designated as a Selected File, or request that files be deselected and made subject to the Suspension Period. The FCA will continue to monitor the pandemic, and may, of its own motion, deselect files.
The list of the Selected Files is posted on the FCA’s website every Monday. The first list was posted on Monday, June 22, 2020.
Computation of Time and Other Considerations for Selected Files
Suspension Period: For Selected Files, the Suspension Period will end for that file the first Monday after the date it is selected and time will begin to run under the Federal Courts Rules, orders and directions. However, the Monday on which the Suspension Period ends will not be counted in computing time.
Filing Documents: Documents for the Selected Files, with the exception of Appeal Books and Application Records, may be filed by email. Documents filed by email will be exempted from the filing of paper copies. Parties who wish to file Appeal Books and Application Records electronically may bring a motion by letter to do so.
Hearings will continue to be heard remotely, by videoconference, teleconference or in writing until health advice in a particular jurisdiction allows for in-person hearings. Parties may state their preference for mode of hearing in the Requisition for Hearing, or in a correspondence addressed to the Judicial Administrator.
Thank you to Caroline Henrie, Christopher A. Guerreiro and David Yi for their help in drafting this article.
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