On June 25, 2020, the Federal Court (FC) issued its latest Practice Direction and Order (FC Update) regarding Court operations during the pandemic, announcing that its Suspension Period will no longer be in force anywhere in Canada as of June 30, 2020. The FC Update also establishes guidelines for the transition toward more regular operations
The FC Update is the fifth Practice Direction and Order issued by the FC in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. For ease of reference, the FC has published a consolidated version of these five notices, including those provisions of each of them that remain in force.
One of the key features of these notices has been the FC’s Suspension Period from normal operations. Most recently, the FC extended the Suspension Period in Ontario, Québec, and the territories until June 29, 2020. The Suspension Period in the four Western and four Eastern provinces expired on June 15, 2020.
Lifting of Suspension Period in remaining areas
The FC Update advises that the Suspension Period in Ontario, Québec, and the territories expired on June 29, 2020.
Subject to certain exceptions provided in the earlier notices, the FC will not be holding hearings in Ontario, Québec, and the territories before July 27, 2020. In these regions, the timelines for procedural steps are extended to July 13, 2020.
Parties to proceedings in Ontario, Québec, and the territories in which a hearing was adjourned as a result of the Suspension Period are to provide, no later than July 13, 2020, the Judicial Administrator with their mutual dates of non-availability to December 18, 2020. For Western Canada and Atlantic Canada, the deadline to provide availability was June 29, 2020.
The FC still encourages parties to file documents electronically. However, the Registry counters opened as of June 29, 2020 with reduced staff.
The FC will continue to schedule applications for judicial review and general sittings by video conference (or 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, and any delays relating to Court facilities.
Thank you to Caroline Henrie, Christopher A. Guerreiro and David Yi for their help in drafting this article.
For more information on the legal implications of COVID-19, please consult our COVID-19 Hub. As a full service global firm with offices across Canada, Norton Rose Fulbright is closely monitoring this evolving situation over a number of practice areas including employment and labour, risk advisory, banking and finance, corporate, M&A and securities, and dispute resolution and litigation, and across a variety of industries including energy, infrastructure, mining and commodities, financial institutions, life sciences and healthcare, technology and innovation, and transport.