The Federal Court of Canada has just issued a new Practice Direction and Order (COVID-19): Update #2 (April 29, 2020). The April 29 Practice Direction amends the Court’s previous Updated Practice Direction and Order (COVID-19), dated April 4, 2020.
The April 29 Practice Direction confirms that, subject to certain exceptions, no hearings will be held until June 29, 2020 – they have all been adjourned. The Court will continue to hear urgent or exceptional matters. Case Management Judge’s will continue to manage cases. The Court will try to accommodate requests for telephone and video conference hearings and has even identified a number of matters that it would like to have moved forward during the Suspension Period. The Court will be outlining how it intends to effectively conduct hearings by video.
The April 29 Practice Direction also extends the Suspension Period to May 29, 2020. Deadlines for filing of documents and the taking of other procedural steps set by the Federal Courts Rules or by Order issued prior to March 16, 2020, will be extended by 14 days following the end of the Suspension Period, to June 12, 2020. As the Court explains, “… if a party had three days prior to March 16th to take a step, the party will have those same three days plus an additional 14 days after May 29, 2020 to take that step. In this example, the new deadline to file would be June 15, 2020. The timelines for taking subsequent steps would be similarly extended.”
The April 29 Practice Direction confirms that the Court remains ready, willing and able to continue its important work on urgent matters notwithstanding the COVID-19 pandemic while simultaneously accommodating for the many difficulties facing litigants at this time.