SUPERSEDED Advisory Notice to Lawyers, Litigants, Witnesses, Jurors, Media, and Members of the Public Regarding COVID-19

IMPORTANT NOTICE

This notice has been superseded by Chief Justice Morawetz’s May 13, 2020 Notice to the Profession at: https://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/notices-and-orders-covid-19/consolidated-notice/. Please see the May 13 notice for current information.

March 13, 2020

Do not come to Superior Court of Justice Courthouses in person if you have been advised by Public Health or your doctor or the Ministry of Health (MOH) website to self-isolate due to possible exposure to the coronavirus (COVID-19). 

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice is closely monitoring the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) as it evolves. The safety of all who use and rely upon the Court is essential. Equally important is continued access to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice should COVID-19 disrupt court operations.  The Court is working with the Ministry of the Attorney General on contingency planning in the event court operations are disrupted.

Effective immediately, and before attending a Superior Court of Justice courthouse, all users of the Court are advised to consult the Ontario Ministry of Health’s website for the latest information around COVID-19 at: Ontario.ca/coronavirus

If you are experiencing coronavirus/COVID 19 symptoms or to determine whether you should isolate yourself or seek medical assistance, call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000 or your local public health unit for assistance and direction, before attending the courthouse.

Court Attendances

If you are required to be in Court and either the Ministry of Health website advises you to self-isolate or you have been advised by Public Health or your doctor to self-isolate due to possible exposure to the coronavirus (COVID-19), do not come to the courthouse in person. Instead, immediately contact the appropriate office below to advise the Court that you have been advised not to attend and follow any directions.

It may be possible to postpone your court matter or you may be able to participate through your lawyer, or by phone or video conference. Please follow any instructions you are given. 

Please be prepared to provide your name and details about your court appearance, court file number if known, as well as any details of who advised you to isolate yourself because of exposure to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Be aware that wait times when you call the court may be longer than usual.

For ANY PERSON who has been advised by Public Health or your doctor or the Ministry of Health (MOH) website to self-isolate due to possible exposure to the coronavirus (COVID-19):

1. For all child protection, family and civil matters (including estates and commercial list)

  1. Lawyers and litigants/party if self-represented –
  2. Witnesses –

2. For All Criminal matters

  1. Lawyers and accused persons if self-represented –
    • If you are an accused person, please contact your lawyer.
    • If you do not have a lawyer, please contact the Superior Court of Justice court office. Contact information for Superior Court of Justice courthouses is available on the Ministry of the Attorney General website: https://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/courts/Court_Addresses/.
    • If your matter is scheduled within the next 48 hours, contact the local trial coordinator.
    • Please be prepared to provide your name and details about your court appearance, court file number if known, as well any details of who advised you to isolate yourself because of exposure to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
    • It is important that you speak to someone about your absence to avoid a warrant being issued.
  2. Witnesses
    • If there is contact information for a police officer, Officer-in-Charge or another person listed on the subpoena, please contact that person.
    • If there is no contact information listed on the subpoena, please contact the Court office. Contact information for SCJ courthouses is available on the Ministry of the Attorney General website: https://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/courts/Court_Addresses/.

3. For Persons who have received a Notice to Attend for Jury Duty

If you have received a summons for jury duty for an upcoming trial, do not attend Court. Jury panels for upcoming civil and criminal trials are cancelled for the time being. If you have been called for jury duty, you do not need to attend. Do not go to the courthouse. The courthouse or jury office will contact you if you need to attend in the future.

Jurors who have already been selected and are sitting on current jury trials must continue to attend those trials, subject to any decision otherwise by the presiding judge.

If you are uncertain of what to do, please call or email the Court office. The contact information is on your jury summons

4. For Members of the Public and the Media

The Court remains open to the public and the media.

However,

  • those who experience COVID-19 symptoms (cough, fever, difficulty breathing), or
  • who have been advised to self-isolate, or
  • who have travelled from an area under a travel health advisory in the past 14 days, or
  • fall into any other category that may be set out on the Ministry of Health website at: Ontario.ca/coronavirus

should not attend a Superior Court of Justice courthouse.

Geoffrey B. Morawetz
Chief Justice
Ontario Superior Court of Justice