In response to COVID-19, Manitoba courts have enacted temporary measures in efforts to comply with physical distancing and limit the spread of the virus. These temporary measures include the suspension or cancellation of hearings, the use of videoconferencing and teleconferencing to aid in the hearing process, and other adjustments to operations.
This article provides a breakdown of the temporary measures as they relate to the Manitoba Queen’s Bench and the Manitoba Court of Appeal. Changes relating to the Provincial Court, the Family Division of the Court of Queen’s Bench, and criminal matters under the General Division of the Court of Queen’s Bench are not addressed in this article, but the notices relating to these changes are located on the Manitoba Courts website.
Readers are encouraged to contact MLT Aikins with any questions about how these changes may affect any current or future legal proceedings.
Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench
On April 2, 2020, the Court of Queen’s Bench issued a notice that provided an update to the Court’s spring schedule in light of the continuing threat of COVID-19.
During the period from April 20 to May 25, 2020, the following measures are in place:
- Scheduled matters are limited to certain prioritized categories and to emergency or urgent/emergent matters.
- All civil trials scheduled to take place between April 20 and May 25, 2020 will be adjourned to a special assignment list presently scheduled for May 21, 2020 at 9:30 a.m. This date is subject to change.
- All contested civil motions and applications presently scheduled will be adjourned sine die (with no appointed date). After May 22, 2020, counsel or a party may contact the civil motion coordinator to schedule a new hearing date, subject to evolving information respecting the virus.
- The uncontested civil list was initially suspended until May 22, 2020, but the Court has now confirmed that it will resume on May 11, 2020. A party may contact the civil motion coordinator in respect of an emergency motion.
- All other civil matters, including pre-trial conferences, case management conferences, small claim appeals, and JADRs are adjourned sine die (with no appointed date). After May 22, 2020, counsel or a party may contact the trial or motion coordinator to schedule a new date.
- The Court will not be taking new scheduling requests during this period.
- Filing processes remain unaffected. Counsel are asked to ensure that only essential documents are filed at this time.
- All miscellaneous matters not captured by the directions above, which are considered to be of an emergency nature, may still be addressed by a designated duty judge.
Other Judicial Centres:
The foregoing directions apply to all Court of Queen’s Bench Judicial Centres subject to any specified local directive. In addition:
- Any and all General Division matters scheduled to proceed between April 20 and May 25, 2020 in Thompson, The Pas, Morden or Flin Flon are adjourned to a special administrative assignment list to be conducted by telephone on May 21, 2020 at 9:30 a.m.
- Any and all General Division matters scheduled between April 20 and May 25, 2020 in St. Boniface are adjourned to June 8, 2020.
- Any and all General Division matters scheduled between April 20 and May 25, 2020 in Selkirk are adjourned to June 11, 2020.
- All General Division matters that are adjourned in Brandon will appear on special administrative assignment lists on May 21 and May 22, 2020.
- All General Division matters that are adjourned in Dauphin will appear on special administrative assignment lists on May 21, 2020.
On April 7, 2020, the Court of Queen’s Bench issued a notice addressing the continuation of civil pre-trial and case management conferences. As of April 7:
- Additional judicial service in the realm of pre-trial and case management conferences for civil actions (for new and ongoing matters) will be resumed.
- Pre-trial and case management conferences will be undertaken remotely by teleconference at the request of counsel.
- With the consent of the assigned pre-trial or case management judge, the Court will make available the possibility of a JADR, which, if and when utilized, will be conducted remotely be teleconference.
- Between April 7, 2020 and November 30, 2020, parties will be limited to no more than two such conferences per proceeding, inclusive of a possible JADR where the parties seek that option.
- There are additional requirements and limitations applicable to the scheduling of pre-trial and case management conferences. Further information can be found here.
On May 4, 2020, the Court of Queen’s Bench issued a notice addressing the Court’s schedule for the period of May 25, 2020 to June 30, 2020. Between those dates (subject to sudden developments in the fluid COVID-19 situation):
- All currently-scheduled civil trials will proceed. Trials will take place with the requisite precautions, including appropriate physical distancing, as overseen by the Court.
- Pre-trials, case management meetings, case conferences, motions and JADRs will continue, and will proceed only by way teleconference or videoconference.
- The Winnipeg civil uncontested list will operate by teleconference each day commencing at 10:00 a.m. for the period from Monday, May 11, 2020 until the end of June, 2020.
Masters’ Uncontested Lists:
The Masters’ Uncontested Lists are suspended through and including May 22, 2020.
- All matters presently scheduled on any list during the suspension period are adjourned sine die (with no appointed date).
- After May 16, 2020, counsel or a party may file a notice of motion to be heard on a Masters’ uncontested list or requisition a matter back onto an uncontested list for a date on or after May 25, 2020.
- New civil motions may be scheduled on the uncontested lists beginning May 25, 2020.
- Until further notice, the Masters’ daily uncontested lists in Winnipeg will commence at 9:30 a.m. and be conducted by teleconference.
- All matters scheduled to proceed on or after May 25, 2020 will proceed remotely, except with leave of the court.
Manitoba Court of Appeal
On April 3, 2020, the Court of Appeal issued a notice updating the temporary measures in place with respect to appeals.
Beginning Monday, April 20, 2020:
- All appeals will be heard remotely by videoconferencing.
- All motions or applications will be heard remotely by teleconferencing.
- With respect to appeals that were adjourned by consent between March 20, 2020 and April 17, 2020, the registry staff will consult with the parties and reschedule them to the next available timeslot.
- The registry remains open for filings. All parties are asked to respect physical distancing measures.
Given the fluid nature of the COVID-19 crisis and anticipated changes to government directives, the information in this article is subject to change. Readers are encouraged to seek legal advice with respect to the effects that these changes may have on any legal rights and obligations.
Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.