As 2020 draws to a close, the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel is in sight. Two vaccines have been approved and thousands of Ontarians have been vaccinated. However, the pandemic has not yet abetted and is potentially entering its most dangerous phase. The Superior Court of Justice is doing its part to help fight COVID-19.
As such, pursuant to a new Notice to the Profession, Chief Justice Morawetz stated that all non-jury matters shall proceed virtually unless it is *absolutely necessary* for the matter to be conducted in person. With respect to jury matters, no new jury selections will be commenced (existing jury proceedings may continue, subject to the trial judge’s discretion – although jury trials outside of the “Green Zones” had been previously suspended until February). All courtrooms will be subject to a ten person capacity limit.
This framework will remain in effect until the provincial lockdowns are lifted or until further notice of the court.
While there has been a learning curve regarding virtual hearings (and I miss the camaraderie of speaking with other estate litigators before a 9:30 scheduling appointment), we have all adapted to arguing matters remotely. The court is being proactive and protective by reiterating that this is the new normal during the pandemic and should only be tinkered with when absolutely necessary.
From all of us at de VRIES LITIGATION LLP, may you have a happy new year and a 2021 that returns us to normalcy (while taking the lessons of 2020 to heart)!