What is Virtual Court?

 

These are remote hearings by telephone, video, communications platforms like Skype for Business, or a combination of these technologies. Virtual Court options allow the courts to hear more matters without additional staff at the courthouses. They are also a helpful option when courtrooms are too small to hold in-person hearings and still respect physical distancing.

 

Criteria for Virtual Court Hearings

 

Court of Appeal

 

The Court of Appeal has expanded the types of matters that can be heard remotely by telephone and video and expects to be able to offer fully remote hearings when the September/October term begins. Accordingly, the Court developed a PRACTICE DIRECTIVE >> outlining how hearings will be held, including etiquette and civility in remote hearings.

 

The panel of judges assigned to each appeal will review the materials filed with the court and decide the format in which the appeal will be heard. Among other things, the panel will consider:

 

~ The nature of the case;

~ The complexity of the case;

~ Whether there are liberty interests at stake; and

~ Whether the appeal relates to a matter of public interest.

 

Supreme Court

 

The Supreme Court began offering virtual court hearings and settlement conferences in May for some non-urgent civil matters at the Law Courts in Halifax. The Court has since expanded virtual court to include matters with documentary exhibits and viva voce evidence, including cross-examination. That means virtual court is available for civil and criminal matters in all locations, subject to the following criteria:

 

~ All parties are represented by counsel;
~ The matter can be dealt with in three days or less; and
~ All parties consent, or a judge orders otherwise.

 

The Supreme Court (Family Division) will continue to direct that parties be heard by telephone, video and other electronic means, subject to a judge directing otherwise.

 

Provincial Court

 

Throughout the pandemic, the Provincial Court has been hearing urgent and essential matters, primarily by telephone and video. In June, the Court started expanding the types of matters that can proceed in person; however, many matters will still need to be dealt with remotely due to the size and availability of courtrooms.

 

The Provincial Court is preparing a pilot project to test fully remote appearances in the Dartmouth Wellness Court, the Domesic Violence Court Program in Halifax and Youth Court. Updates will be shared as more information becomes available.

 

How do I request a virtual court hearing?

 

Counsel who have a matter that meets the eligibility criteria and they feel would be appropriate for a virtual hearing should contact their local scheduler or the presiding Judge in their case.

 

Counsel interested in learning more about virtual court hearings are encouraged to review Best Practices for Remote Hearings, developed by the E-Hearings Task Force in Ontario.

 

Virtual Court Notices

 

Aug. 25
July 13 VIRTUAL COURT OPEN HOUSE >>
July 7 PREPARING FOR VIRTUAL HEARINGS IN NSSC >>
June 10 SUPREME COURT EXPANDS VIRTUAL COURT >>
May 22 BEST PRACTICES FOR VIRTUAL COURT HEARINGS >>
May 7 VIRTUAL HEARINGS, SETTLEMENT CONFERENCES >>