Please see our updated version of this article, published July 10, 2020.

We know you have a lot to think about and plan right now and over the next few weeks. You can rely on us to keep your intellectual property litigation matters  moving forward.  To that end, we wanted to provide an update on the measures courts across Canada are taking to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Federal Court

On March 17, the Federal Court suspended most in-person proceedings in a Practice Direction until at least April 17, 2020 (the “Suspension Period”) and continues to provide updates:

  • Hearings:
    • Postponed, except for urgent or exceptional situations. This includes hearings that were scheduled to be heard by teleconference. There is currently no appointed date for resumption.
  • General Sittings:
    • Cancelled. Matters returnable at a General Sitting during the Suspension Period will be placed on the roll of the first General Sitting scheduled to be held at least two weeks after the end of the Suspension Period.
  • Timelines under Orders and Directions:
    • Suspended until after the Suspension Period.
  • Filing Deadlines.
    • Not suspended. Parties are encouraged to use the Federal Court’s E-filing portal, and are exempted from any requirement to file paper copies. Parties unable to meet filing deadlines due to current circumstances will be able to request an extension of time after the Suspension Period.
    • The Court will maintain skeleton staff only during the Suspension Period and will not be monitoring registry counters. Parties wishing to file paper copies of documents are asked to telephone.

Ontario Superior Court of Justice

The Ontario Superior Court issued a Notice to the Profession on March 15, 2020, that effective March 17, 2020, until further notice:

  • Hearings:
    • Postponed, except for urgent matters. This includes telephone and videoconference appearances unless the presiding judicial officer directs otherwise.
    • Urgent matters include urgent family and child protection matters, urgent and time sensitive civil and commercial matters, and matters related to public health and safety and COVID-19). The notice identifies a process for bringing such matters before the court.
    • The Court expects a Return to Operations Scheduling Court will be established to reschedule adjourned matters.
  • Filing:
    • The courthouse will remain open. However, if this becomes impossible, or the courthouse is believed to be unsafe, parties can expect the Court to grant extensions once normal operations resume.
  • Limitation Periods:
    • On March 20, 2020, the Lieutenant Governor in Council made an order under s. 7.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act suspending limitation periods and procedural time periods. The suspension is retroactive to March 16, 2020.

British Columbia Supreme Court

The British Columbia Supreme Court issued a Notice to the Profession on March 18, 2020 that effective March 19, 2020 until May 1, 2020:

  • Hearings:
    • Postponed, except for essential and urgent matters.
    • Essential and urgent civil matters include civil restraining orders, preservation orders, and urgent injunctions. The notice identifies a procedure for requesting a hearing of an essential and urgent matter.
  • Filing:
    • Deadlines under the Supreme Court Civil Rules are suspended until May 1, 2020.
  • Limitation Periods:
    • Continue to apply. The Court will determine requests for extensions of time on a case-by-case basis after regular operations resume.

Quebec Superior Court

The Chief Justice of Quebec and the Minister of Justice issued ministerial order number 2020-4521 on March 15, 2020 and effective immediately and until further notice:

  • Hearings:
    • Postponed and Quebec courts will only hear urgent matters.
    • These matters include urgent criminal, family and child protection matters, as well as urgent and time sensitive civil and commercial litigation matters such as:
      • applications for interim injunctions and safeguard orders;
      • applications for seizures before judgment;
      • applications for eviction orders; and
      • orders for release from seizure, annulment of seizures before judgment, and contested eviction orders.
    • All urgent hearings would be held in camera and only the persons whose presence is considered necessary for the purpose of the hearing by the decision maker will be allowed to attend.
    • The courts will try to use telephone and video conferencing as much as possible.
  • Limitation Periods and Filing Deadlines.
    • Until the current state of public health emergency is over, all limitation periods, all periods of possible forfeiture of rights, and all time limits under the Civil Code of Procedure are suspended.
    • Deadlines to file a lawsuit have been suspended until further notice and as a result, the days following the issuance of the Ministerial Order are not to be included in the calculation of the deadline to file a lawsuit.

We will continue to provide updates as matters progress. Please feel free to reach out to our litigation team with any questions you may have.

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.