STATEMENT RE: COVID-19
Edward H. Royle & Partners LLP would like to take a moment to discuss the current situation surrounding the global Coronavirus pandemic. Public health officials are, of course, your best source of information for health and safety issues arising from the pandemic.
As far as court appearances go, please contact your lawyer’s office, but avoid attending your lawyer’s office in person unless your counsel specifically advises you to come. The Law Society is allowing affidavits to be commissioned outside the personal presence of counsel, so there should be little need to attend your counsel’s office in person.
Your lawyer can and should advise you as to whether you need to attend court or not. If your matter is in provincial court, and you are able to read this online yourself (in other words you are out of custody), in all likelihood you do not need to attend court. Courts have been directed to allow defendants not to appear personally in order to facilitate social distancing efforts.
Furthermore, if you are in remand court (no date has yet been scheduled for a preliminary hearing or trial), your case is being adjourned for ten (10) weeks. A list of specific dates can be found online by following the link below:
If you, a loved one, a friend or a colleague, has a matter in bail court, be assured that your lawyer is doing everything he or she can do to have your bail hearing heard. The defence bar feels it is imperative to prioritize bail hearings. Once Covid-19 makes its way into the provincial gaols, it is expected to spread rapidly. The best way to avoid or slow its spread inside provincial detention centers is to reduce the number of defendants being detained without bail. The lower the inmate population, the less easily the virus can spread.
In-custody trials and preliminary hearings in the Ontario Court of Justice are expected to proceed as scheduled, wherever possible.
Matters in the Superior Court of Justice, by contrast, have ground virtually to a halt. That Court has ordered a halt to all new trials, whether with a jury or by judge alone, until further notice. While the SCJ’s plan is to conduct bails and to do allow the defendant and possibly witnesses to appear by video, the Court is still making the arrangements and, as of March 17, 2020, those arrangements had not yet been made and bail and detention reviews were being adjourned. Your lawyer can and will update you on the status of those arrangements.
We will update this post as more information becomes available with respect to the impact on the courts and how the government is dealing with ensuring that access to justice is maximized during this time.