SUPERSEDED Notice to the Profession – Northwest Region

IMPORTANT NOTICE

This notice has been superseded. Please refer to:  http://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/notices-and-orders-covid-19/#REGIONAL_NOTICES for current information.

April 2, 2020

Effective March 17, 2020, due to the public health emergency resulting from COVID-19, regular operations in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (SCJ) were suspended. You can view the province-wide information as well as orders and directions of Chief Justice Geoffrey B. Morawetz on the Ontario Courts website: www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/

Effective April 6, 2020, in an effort to expand the types of matters the SCJ will hear, without endangering the health of those who use or work in the court, the SCJ in the Northwest Region will offer additional services through virtual/electronic courts.  Of necessity, this may involve untested and novel processes which may depend upon the type of case and the availability of resources in each judicial centre.

Having considered the various resource and technological constraints to hearing matters during the suspension of court operations, the Northwest Region will expand matters and hearings to deal with the types of proceedings as set out in this Notice. This Notice sets out the protocols that must be followed in order to receive approval for proceedings in Criminal, Family and Civil proceedings in the Northwest Region. Please review these carefully and submit only the information requested.

It is important that lawyers, litigants and other justice system participants act in good faith and cooperate with each other and with the court to ensure that electronic hearings are focused and fair and can be completed in a timely fashion.  In addition to the directives established at the provincial, regional and local level, the presiding judicial officer may give further direction.

During the next several weeks, the SCJ and the Northwest Region will continue to monitor the situation and, if possible, will further expand the types of matters and hearings that will be heard during these extraordinary times.

To ensure access to justice during the suspension of our regular operations, the SCJ adopted a series of measures so that urgent matters are able to be dealt with electronically. The SCJ has recently also established e-mail addresses for each SCJ judicial centre in the Northwest Region.

Local Administrative Judges Assigned

In order to streamline the expansion of services and to assist with coordination of hearings, I have appointed the following judges as my Local Administrative Judges as follows:

Justice Fregeau will continue as the LAJ for Kenora and Fort Frances;

Justice Newton has been assigned the LAJ for criminal proceedings in Thunder Bay;

Justice Fitzpatrick has been assigned the LAJ for civil proceedings in Thunder Bay;

Justice Nieckarz has been assigned the LAJ for family proceedings in Thunder Bay; and

Justice Pierce has been assigned the LAJ for estates proceedings in Thunder Bay.

The Local Administrative Judges will review your requests for hearings based upon the new protocols, and if approved, a judge, schedule and process for filing materials and hearing time will be assigned. We have a limited number of telephone and video conference lines, so hearings dates/times will be assigned based upon a priority basis.

CRIMINAL MATTERS

In addition to urgent hearings that were defined as:

  1. Bail issues (detention reviews and initial hearings on s. 469 offences) for those in custody;
  2. Urgent bail issues for those on release (health or COVID-19 related);
  3. Joint submission guilty pleas for those in custody who are at a time-served position;
  4. In-custody pre-trial conferences;
  5. Extending stays of bail pending appeal orders for Summary Conviction Appeals that have a sunset clause before May 1, 2020; and
  6. Habeas corpus applications

the SJC in the Northwest Region will also conduct the following criminal proceedings:

  1. Joint submission guilty pleas for those in custody who will receive a penitentiary sentence and therefore be able to move from the provincial jail system to the federal system;
  2. Out-of-custody pre-trial conferences; and
  3. Extending stays of bail pending appeal orders that have a sunset clause before June 1, 2020.

To request a hearing/pre-trial in criminal proceedings, you should set out the basis for the request in a letter (maximum 2 pages) as follows:

  1. the relief/hearing requested;
  2. confirming that the matter can be dealt with by way of an audio or video conference hearing.

The letter will be referred to a judge who will determine whether and how to proceed. Counsel requesting the hearing will be advised by return email if the matter will proceed.

The request should be forwarded to the applicable email address as follows:

Thunder Bay ThunderBay.SCJ@ontario.ca
Kenora Kenora.scj@ontario.ca
Fort Frances Courts.FortFrances@jus.gov.on.ca

If the judge determines that the matter should proceed, the judge will arrange a conference call with counsel/parties through the Trial Coordinator’s office.

The judge will provide directions on how and when the matter will proceed.

The application materials from either party are limited to 10MB unless the judge grants an order permitting the materials to be sent on multiple email batches.

The parties undertake to file all hard copy materials upon resumption of normal court operations.

Until we have more certainty about when we will resume usual operation, the Northwest Region will not be setting criminal trial dates. We may consider requests for certain types of pre-trial applications if the reason for dealing with them at this time is considered by the judge as being necessary.

FAMILY MATTERS

Urgent Matters

In order to continue to deal with urgent family matters in a timely fashion, (as described in the March 15, 2020 Notice to the Profession) requests for hearings of urgent matters should be sent via correspondence of fewer than 2 pages to the following email addresses:

Thunder Bay ThunderBay.SCJ@ontario.ca
Kenora Kenora.scj@ontario.ca
Fort Frances Courts.FortFrances@jus.gov.on.ca

Please include the following information in that correspondence:

  1. the relief requested;
  2. the reason why the matter is urgent;
  3. a draft order(s);
  4. confirmation that the matter can be dealt with by way of a conference hearing, if approved.

Non- Urgent Family Matters Protocol:

In addition to family matters that were determined to be urgent requests for hearings (as described in the March 15, 2020 Notice to the Profession), the SCJ in the Northwest Region will now consider requests for certain other proceedings as follows:

Consent Motions:

All consent motions in family law matters, should be delivered electronically to the following email addresses – please note these email addresses are different than the email addresses for urgent hearings. If you send your request to the wrong email address, you might not receive a hearing:

Thunder Bay CSD.ThunderBay.SCJ@ontario.ca
Kenora courts.kenora@ontario.ca
Fort Frances Courts.FortFrances@jus.gov.on.ca

The electronic materials must include the motion materials, consent by all parties, email addresses for all parties and a draft order.  Materials previously filed must also be included in the motion materials.

The electronic materials from each party are limited to 10MB. Judges will NOT have access to court record files. As a result, parties must include electronic copies of all court filed documents which are relevant to the matter. The parties must advise that a “basket motion” had been filed prior to court suspension and agrees to abandon any basket motion for the same or similar relief.

A judge will review the materials and, if appropriate, issue an order as requested or amended.

In the event the assigned judge has issues or concerns with the materials or the proposed order, the judge will provide the parties with an endorsement by email regarding the deficiencies or reasons for denial of the order.

The parties must undertake to file all materials and any fee payable upon resumption of normal court operations.

Motions in Writing:

Where all the parties agree that the motion can proceed based on written materials only without a conference hearing, the parties may deliver the motion materials electronically to:

Thunder Bay CSD.ThunderBay.SCJ@ontario.ca
Kenora courts.kenora@ontario.ca
Fort Frances Courts.FortFrances@jus.gov.on.ca

The electronic motion materials must include the motion materials from both parties, facta, draft orders, email addresses of all parties and written confirmation by all parties to proceeding with the motion by written submissions only.

The electronic materials from each party are limited to 10MB. Judges will NOT have access to court record files. As a result, parties must include electronic copies of all court filed documents which are relevant to the matter.

The assigned judge will consider the materials and, in due course, issue an endorsement/order on the motion.  The judge may reserve the issue of costs and give directions for written submissions on costs.

The parties must undertake to file all materials and any fee payable upon resumption of normal court operations.

Case and Settlement Conferences:

Where all the parties wish to proceed with a case or settlement conference limited to a total of 1/2 hour on one or two urgent or pressing issues identified by the parties, the parties may make a request a date for the conference.

The request must be sent electronically to the SCJ trial coordination office:

Thunder Bay ThunderBay.SCJ@ontario.ca
Kenora Kenora.scj@ontario.ca
Fort Frances Courts.FortFrances@jus.gov.on.ca

The parties may then send their case conference materials to the Court Services Division at:

Thunder Bay CSD.ThunderBay.SCJ@ontario.ca
Kenora courts.kenora@ontario.ca
Fort Frances Courts.FortFrances@jus.gov.on.ca

The materials must include case conference briefs, proof of service, identification of the issues to be canvassed and draft orders. Because of time constraints, the conference may be limited to only one or two issues.

Counsel/parties must confirm in their materials that they have previously fully discussed the issues to be dealt with at the case or settlement conference.

The electronic materials from each party are limited to 4 pages plus limited attachments (as described in the Family Law Rules). Judges will NOT have access to court record files. As a result, parties must include electronic copies of all court filed documents which are relevant to the matter.

The assigned judge will review the conference briefs and the judge will issue a brief endorsement by email setting out the time of and directions for the conference.

The parties must undertake to file all materials and any fee payable upon resumption of normal court operations.

CIVIL MATTERS

Urgent Matters

In order to continue to deal with urgent civil matters in a timely fashion, (as described in the March 15, 2020 Notice to the Profession) requests for hearings of urgent matters should be sent via correspondence of fewer than 2 pages to the following email addresses:

Thunder Bay ThunderBay.SCJ@ontario.ca
Kenora Kenora.scj@ontario.ca
Fort Frances Courts.FortFrances@jus.gov.on.ca

Requests for urgent hearings shall set out:

  1. the relief requested;
  2. the reason(s) why the matter is urgent;
  3. a draft order(s);
  4. confirming that the matter can be dealt with by way of a conference hearing, if approved.

Additional Matters

Non- Urgent Civil Matters Protocol:

In addition to urgent civil matters the SCJ in the Northwest Region will now consider requests for certain other proceedings as follows: please note these email addresses are different than the email addresses for urgent civil hearings. If you send your request to the wrong email address, you might not receive a hearing:

Rule 7 and Consent Motions:

All Rule 7 and consent motions in civil law matters, may be delivered electronically to:

Thunder Bay CSD.ThunderBay.SCJ@ontario.ca
Kenora courts.kenora@ontario.ca
Fort Frances Courts.FortFrances@jus.gov.on.ca

The electronic materials must include the motion materials, (for consent motions) consent by all parties, email addresses for all parties and a draft order(s).

The electronic materials from each party are limited to 10MB. Judges will NOT have access to court record files. As a result, parties must include electronic copies of all court filed documents which are relevant to the matter.  If the parties have previously filed a “basket motion” they must advise of this and undertake to withdraw the “basket motion”.

The assigned judge will review the materials and, if appropriate, issue an order as requested or amended.

In the event the judge has issues with the materials or the proposed order, the judge will provide the parties with an endorsement regarding the deficiencies or reasons for denial of the order.

The parties must undertake to file all materials and any fee payable upon resumption of normal court operations.

Motions in Writing:

Where all the parties agree that the motion can proceed based on written materials only without a conference hearing, the parties may deliver the motion materials electronically to:

Thunder Bay Courthouse CSD.ThunderBay.SCJ@ontario.ca
Kenora Courthouse courts.kenora@ontario.ca
Fort Frances Courthouse Courts.FortFrances@jus.gov.on.ca

The electronic motion materials must include the motion materials from both parties, facta, draft orders, email addresses of all parties and written confirmation by all parties to proceeding with the motion by written submissions only.

The electronic materials from each party are limited to 10MB. Judges will NOT have access to court record files. As a result, parties must include electronic copies of all court filed documents which are relevant to the matter.

The assigned judge will consider the materials and in due course, issue an endorsement/order on the matter. The judge may reserve on the issue of costs and give directions for written submissions on costs.

The parties must undertake to file all materials and any fee payable upon resumption of normal court operations.

Pre-Trial Conferences:

Where all the parties wish to proceed with a pre-trial conference limited to a total of 1/2 hour on one or two urgent or pressing issues identified by the parties, the parties may make a request a date for the conference. Counsel/parties must confirm in their materials that they have previously fully discussed the issues to be dealt with at the pre-trial conference and there is a desire to reach a resolution.

The request must be sent electronically to the SCJ trial coordination office:

Thunder Bay ThunderBay.SCJ@ontario.ca
Kenora Kenora.scj@ontario.ca
Fort Frances Courts.FortFrances@jus.gov.on.ca

If the pre-trial conference is approved, the parties may then send their pre-trial conference materials to the Court Services Division at:

Thunder Bay CSD.ThunderBay.SCJ@ontario.ca
Kenora courts.kenora@ontario.ca
Fort Frances Courts.FortFrances@jus.gov.on.ca

The materials must include pre-trial conference briefs, proof of service, identification of the issues to be canvassed and draft orders.

The electronic materials from each party are limited to between 5 and 10 pages plus limited attachments. Judges will NOT have access to court record files. As a result, parties must include electronic copies of all court filed documents that are relevant to the matter.

The assigned judge will review the conference briefs and the judge will issue a brief endorsement by email setting out the time of and directions for the conference.

The parties must undertake to file all materials and any fee payable upon resumption of normal court operations.

I hope you remain healthy and well throughout this time.

Sincerely,

Bonnie R. Warkentin,
Regional Senior Justice

 

Summary and Prescribed E-Mail Content

All requests for Urgent matters and dates for Family Case/Settlement Conferences should direct those inquiries to the Judicial generic e-mail address at:

Thunder Bay   ThunderBay.SCJ@ontario.ca

Kenora            Kenora.scj@ontario.ca

Fort Frances   Courts.FortFrances@jus.gov.on.ca

For filing of all material/documents for all matters that have been approved, please see below protocol.

  1. Determine if your motion, application or request meets the requirements established in the abovementioned notices and updates posted to the website of the Superior Court of Justice.
  2. Documents and requests with respect to filing of documents shall be sent by email to the appropriate courthouse.
Northwest Dryden N/A
Kenora courts.kenora@ontario.ca
Fort Frances Courts.FortFrances@jus.gov.on.ca
Red Lake N/A
Sioux Lookout N/A
Thunder Bay CSD.ThunderBay.SCJ@ontario.ca
  1. In order to ensure your request is received and processed by the appropriate court office, the subject line should include the following information:
  • LEVEL OF COURT (SCJ)
  • TYPE OF MATTER (Criminal, Family, Civil, Civil Enforcement, Small Claims, Estates)
  • FILE NUMBER
  • TYPE OF DOCUMENT (e.g., Motion, Conference Brief, Other Request)

For example:

SCJ, Criminal, CR-20-0024-BR, Application

  1. The body of the email should include the following information if applicable:
    1. court file number (if it is an existing file)
    2. short title of proceeding
    3. list of documents attached (note: attachments cannot exceed 35 MB)
    4. type of request
    5. name, role (i.e. lawyer, representative, party, etc.,) and contact information of person submitting the request (email and phone number)