Legal Industry Updates

CBA Alberta

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September 3, 2020

The Court is sitting on a full time basis through the summer months to deal with matters. The Court wants this change in schedule to work to help matters resolve and strongly encourages the bar to use the remaining time spots available for JDR hearings in Edmonton and Calgary. In addition, time spots have been opened for certain trials, which Justices are available to conduct. Once the fall term begins, the scheduled trials will resume and availability will not be the same as it is during the summer months.

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June 5, 2020

We were pleased to see the Alberta Protocol for Remote Questioning referenced in a recent Court of Queen's Bench decision from Justice M.J. Lema - Sandhu v Siri Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara of Alberta, 2020 ABQB 359 (at para 38). This resource was developed in cooperation with the Alberta Civil Trial Lawyers Association, the Advocates Society, the Alberta Shorthand Reporters Association and Pro Bono Law Alberta.

Read the decision

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May 27, 2020

The Court of Appeal, Court of Queen's Bench and Provincial Court of Alberta have updated CBA Alberta members on the steps currently being taken to facilitate a return to more regular sittings of the trial courts in response to the provincial government's recent relaxation of some COVID-19 restrictions.

Read more in a letter from the Courts outlining some of these steps.

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May 6, 2020

The CBA Alberta continues to work in cooperation with the Courts and other stakeholders on our shared goal of restoring access to the Courts and will continue to work to find solutions for upholding the Administration of Justice in the midst of this pandemic.

This letter from the Courts provides an update on the Courts' responses to COVID-19, highlights some of the challenges and outlines the measures being taken by them.

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March 24, 2020

As we all work together to help top the spread of COVID-19, it is mportant that while we physically distance ourselves from our neighbours, we do not lose our sense of community.

To that end, until this pandemic is over and we are able to resume our in-person meetings (or until the end of this Section year, whichever comes first), we are offering Section meetings to all CBA Alberta members for free. Our meetings will be delivered by webcast, which will allow you to view them from the comfort of your home or office. A list of upcoming events is available on our PD calendar at www.cba-alberta.org/Calendar.

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March 13, 2020

Like many of you, we have been monitoring closely the information and recommendation provided by public health officials regarding the COVID-19 outbreak in Alberta. The situation continues to change on a day to day basis and at this time, our of care and concern for our members, we are suspending all in-person Section and committee meetings effective Monday, March 16, 2020. In-person Law Day activities throughout the province will also be cancelled. We will continue to monitor the situation and will resume in-person meetings as soon as it is deemed appropriate to do so based on information provided by public health officials.

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Alberta Court Announcements

Read a full list of announcements from the Alberta Courts here.
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Apr 27, 2022

Effective May 2, 2022, the restrictions on access to courthouses set out in the Alberta Courts’ Notice to the Public and Legal Profession of March 26, 2020, will be lifted. Access to Alberta courthouses will no longer be restricted to the categories of individuals set out in that Notice.

All other COVID-19 measures currently in place, including the use of Plexiglas barriers, mandatory masking, courtroom capacity limits, physical distancing, and vaccination policies will remain in effect until further notice.

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Mar 16, 2022

The purpose of this Notice is to advise that, due to short-term operational challenges, unless otherwise directed, all appeal sittings, applications before three‑judge panels and Bar Admissions will continue to be heard electronically until April 29, 2022. Appeal Conferences, Judicial Dispute Resolution matters and single judge matters will continue to be heard electronically until further notice.

Access to all courthouses in Alberta and other related policies continues to remain in place. See Notice to the Profession dated February 10, 2022, which contains links to the Court’s previously issued guidelines and processes.

Catherine A. Fraser
Chief Justice of Alberta

Document: Electronic Hearings Extended to April 29, 2022

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Mar 2, 2022

On February 26th, 2022, the Government announced that effective March 1st, 2022, it would proceed to Step 2 of its plan to lift virtually all of its pandemic restrictions.

Throughout the COVID–19 pandemic, courthouses across the province have been operating under restrictions designed to ensure the safety of all participants. Given the unique position of the Courts, where persons who attend are often compelled to do so, and where vulnerable segments of the population attend, there is an ongoing need to continue with the restrictions and policies presently in place until further notice.

Accordingly, access to courthouses will continue to be restricted, face masks will be mandatory, social distancing will be maintained, reduced capacity limits in courtrooms will apply and the Courts’ vaccination policies will continue in effect.

Document:

Continuation of COVID-19 Restrictions and Policies

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February 18, 2022

Effective February 22, 2022, the Provincial Court of Alberta will remove restrictions on out-of-custody trials, preliminary inquiries and other hearings put in place in January, 2022 as a result of the rapid spread of the omicron variant. These matters will now proceed as scheduled.

COVID-19 precautions will continue to remain in effect, including:

  • Social distancing rules
  • Limited capacity within courtrooms and courthouses
  • Plexiglas barriers within courtrooms
  • Enhanced cleaning
  • Mandatory facemasks as per court directive

Please visit https://albertacourts.ca/pc/resources/covid for complete information on the various measures the Provincial Court is taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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February 10, 2020

In the December 17, 2021 Notice to the Profession and Public, the Court of Appeal announced that, unless otherwise directed, all appeal sittings, applications before three-judge panels, applications before a single judge and Bar Admissions would continue to be heard electronically until February 25, 2022, and Appeal Conferences and Judicial Dispute Resolution matters would continue to be heard electronically until further notice.

The purpose of this Notice is to advise that, unless otherwise directed, all appeal sittings, applications before three judge panels and Bar Admissions will continue to be heard electronically until March 25, 2022 with a return to in-person starting March 28, 2022. Appeal Conferences, Judicial Dispute Resolution matters and single judge matters will continue to be heard electronically until further notice.

The decision to extend the use of electronic hearings again has been guided by several considerations including the current public health status of the province, the evident threat from the COVID-19 Omicron variant, and the continuing need to preserve the health and safety of all Court participants by minimizing traffic to the courthouses.

Access to all courthouses in Alberta continues to be restricted in accordance with the Courts’ Notice dated November 27, 2020. The mask requirements set out in the Courts’ Notice dated July 3, 2020 will continue to apply to individuals attending at courthouses.

To provide a safe location for all individuals who voluntarily come to or who are compelled to attend court, the Courts have implemented vaccination policies for all Court staff and those wishing to access the secure areas of Alberta courthouses. Details are set out in the following notices:

The current processes and guidelines for electronic hearings in the Court of Appeal set out in the March 23 and July 6, 2020 Notices to the Profession and Public will continue to govern. The links to those Notices are:

Information on attending an electronic hearing and related resources for counsel and self represented litigants is available on the Court of Appeal’s website. Links to these also follow:

Requests to be heard by audio only (teleconference) or in writing only can be made by contacting the appropriate Registry by email.

Or by telephone:

  • Calgary Matters: 403-297-2206 (Fax: 403-297-5294)
  • Edmonton Matters: 780-422-2416 (Fax: 780-422-4127)

Catherine A. Fraser, Chief Justice of Alberta

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October 19. 2021

In the July 21, 2021 Notice to the Profession and Public, the Court of Appeal announced that effective November 1, 2021, it would resume in-person proceedings for all appeal sittings and applications before three-judge panels. The purpose of this Notice is to advise that, unless otherwise directed, all proceedings—including applications before a single judge, Appeal Conferences, Appellate Judicial Dispute Resolution and Bar Admissions—will continue to be heard electronically by videoconference or teleconference until January 1, 2022.

The decision to extend the use of electronic hearings has again been guided by several considerations including the current public health status of the province, Alberta’s September 15, 2021 declaration of a state of public health emergency along with related new measures now in place, and the continuing need to preserve the health and safety of all Court participants by minimizing traffic to the courthouses.

Access to all courthouses in Alberta will continue to be restricted in accordance with the Courts’ Notice dated November 27, 2020. The mask requirements set out in the Courts’ Notice dated July 3, 2020 will also continue to apply to individuals attending at courthouses.

To provide a safe location for all individuals who voluntarily come to or who are compelled to attend court, the Courts have implemented vaccination policies for all Court staff and those wishing to access the secure areas of Alberta courthouses. Details are set out in the following notices:

The current processes and guidelines for electronic hearings set out in the March 23 and July 6, 2020 Notices to the Profession and Public will continue to govern. The links to those Notices are:

Information on attending an electronic hearing and related resources for counsel and self-represented litigants is available on the Court’s website. Links to these also follow:

Requests to be heard by audio only (teleconference) or in writing only can be made by contacting the appropriate Registry.

  • Calgary Matters: Calgary.Registry@albertacourts.ca
  • Edmonton Matters: Edmonton.Registry@albertacourts.ca

Or by telephone:

  • Calgary Matters: 403-297-2206 (Fax: 403-297-5294)
  • Edmonton Matters: 780-422-2416 (Fax: 780-422-4127)

Catherine A. Fraser
Chief Justice of Alberta

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October 1, 2021

COVID-19 is a virus that can cause a serious medical illness, the risk of which can be effectively minimized by vaccinations. Recently in Alberta, there has again been a very significant increase in infections with hospitalizations and admissions into intensive care rising rapidly. On September 15, 2021, the government of Alberta declared a further state of public health emergency.

The Court of Appeal of Alberta, the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta and the Provincial Court of Alberta (the Courts) have a responsibility to provide a safe location for all individuals who voluntarily come to or who are compelled to attend court. In furtherance of this responsibility, the Courts announced on September 21, 2021 their respective Policies on the need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to access secure Court workspaces.

The Courts now provide notice that effective November 1, 2021, all Court staff, including clerks and court technology personnel, and Sheriffs must be fully vaccinated to access courtrooms in Alberta courthouses.

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September 28, 2021

Court of Queen's Bench Administration has extended the cap on email filing fees until March 31, 2022. In addition to regular filing fees, documents that are filed via email will be charged at the rate of $1 per page, capped to a maximum of $20.

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September 21, 2021

COVID-19 is a virus that can cause a serious medical illness, the risk of which can be effectively minimized by vaccinations. Recently, in Alberta, there has again been a very significant increase in infections with hospitalizations and admissions into intensive care rising rapidly. On September 15, 2021, the government of Alberta declared a further state of public health emergency.

The Court of Appeal of Alberta, the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta and the Provincial Court of Alberta (the Courts) have a responsibility to provide a safe workspace that protects the health and safety of individuals who work in, visit, or attend the Courts’ workspaces. Accordingly, the Courts have adopted mandatory Vaccination Policies which will be in effect as of Tuesday, September 21, 2021. These Policies apply to all secure areas of courthouses used by judicial officers and certain staff to which public access is restricted.

As each of the three Courts has unique operational requirements, their respective Policies contain minor differences that address each Court’s specific needs. That said, the principles and purpose that underlie each Court Policy are consistent.

Effective October 8, 2021, counsel, service providers and visitors wishing to access the secure areas of Alberta courthouses to which public access is restricted will be questioned about their vaccination status. Those who have not been vaccinated or who have not received a negative test from a privately-paid negative PCR or privately-paid negative rapid test completed not more than 48 hours prior to entry will be denied entry.

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September 1, 2021

The Court of Queen’s Bench will continue to take a cautious approach to the resumption of operations as they were being conducted prior to March, 2020. With the commencement of the 2021 Fall Term on September 7, 2021, the Court will continue to take steps to minimize traffic at courthouses as much as possible.

Access to courthouses will continue to be restricted in accordance with the Courts’ Notice dated November 27, 2020. The mask requirements for individuals attending at courthouses set out in the Courts’ Notice dated June 25, 2021 will continue to apply.

All matters scheduled for the Fall Term will proceed as scheduled in all Judicial Centres, subject to any further Announcement of the Court, unless otherwise ordered in individual cases.

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June 25, 2021

Access to all courthouses in Alberta will continue to be restricted in accordance with the Courts’ Notice dated November 27, 2020 until further notice.

The mask requirements set out in the Courts’ Notice dated July 6, 2020 will continue to apply to individuals attending at courthouses, subject to the exceptions noted therein. Anyone claiming a medical or disability exemption from the masking requirement must provide proof thereof. For those who do not have a face mask, one can be obtained from perimeter security at the entrance to the courthouse. All current protocols relating to physical distancing and courtroom capacity will continue until further notice.

We ask for the cooperation of the members of the public and Bar in complying with these requirements designed to protect everyone attending courthouses in this province.

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December 11, 2020

Law firms, lawyers and court runners with existing charge account agreements or those lawyers and runners wishing to open a charge account agreement are permitted to file documents in all judicial centres through email.

If you are interested in opening a charge account agreement for email filing please direct inquiries to the contact emails at the end of this page.

In order to serve you better, and streamline processes, Court of Queen’s Bench Administration will now require the following procedures to be followed when documents are submitted through the email filing process. 

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November 23, 2020

In-person service at the Provincial Court Civil counters of the Edmonton Law Courts has been suspended. Although civil court matters currently scheduled are proceeding as planned, non-emergency filing of documents will be done through the drop boxes located at the entrances to the Edmonton Law Courts. 

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August 31, 2020

The Court of Appeal of Alberta has already been at the forefront of providing Albertans with electronic access to justice and is pleased to unveil its latest development to take that to the next level. On August 31, 2020, the Court of Appeal will launch the public portal of its digital Court of Appeal Management System (CAMS). Starting Monday, in addition to filing materials electronically, counsel and self-represented litigants will have online access to all of their case materials and can retrieve other information about their appeals including the full text of all filed documents, deadlines, hearing dates, outcomes and more. CAMS already enables judges and court staff to access and work with all court files electronically.

On the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Court quickly adopted a new remote hearing format. The Court utilized software, systems and equipment designed for meeting uses and adapted it for electronic hearings. The Court’s hearing schedule has been uninterrupted. The first electronic appeal hearing took place on March 30, 2020, and the Court has not looked back since. The Court recently confirmed that it will continue with remote hearings until at least November 1, 2020.

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October 1, 2020

Certain court proceedings are now being conducted remotely by online video or by phone.

The Conduct Guide for Remote Appearances outlines best practices and points of etiquette to ensure participation in a remote hearing is as effective as possible.

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August 20, 2020

During the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as the Court prepares for post-pandemic operations, a number of proceedings will continue to be conducted via online videoconference (Online Hearings).

Until further notice, all Online Hearings will be conducted using the Cisco WebEx Meeting application. Instructions for the installation and use of WebEx are available here: https://help.webex.com/en-us/n62wi3c/Get-Started-with-Cisco-Webex-Meetings-for-Attendees. Additional troubleshooting information is available on the Court’s website, at: https://albertacourts.ca/qb/court-operations-schedules/remote-hearings-protocol-troubleshooting.

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July 6, 2020

All Court electronic hearings (video conference and audio conference) of Court of Appeal proceedings are viewable by, or available on audio to, the wider public. Counsel for the parties and self-represented litigants must advise the Court of any identified or potential privacy or confidentiality concerns in advance of their electronic hearing.

Therefore, the Confidentiality or Privacy Concerns Form attached to this Notice must be completed and submitted to the Court prior to the electronic hearing.

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May 8, 2020

Letter to the Canadian Bar Association and Law Society of Alberta.

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April 1, 2020

Effective April 1, 2020, the Court of Appeal has adopted the Court of Queen's Bench practice regarding remote commissioning of affidavits found at:

https://www.albertacourts.ca/qb/resources/announcements/npp-remote-commissioning-of-affidavits

However, Registry clerks will be limited to in-person commissioning of affidavits by parties.

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Government of Alberta

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May 15, 2020

Ministerial Order modifying sections of the Personal Directives Act, the Powers of Attorney Act and the Wills and Succession Act during the COVID-19 pandemic, to account for circumstances where it is not possible or medically safe for a maker, donor or testator to physically attend before a lawyer and sign a personal directive or power of attorney in the presence of a witness or a will in the presence of two witnesses.

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April 2, 2020

Ministerial Order from the Minister of Service Alberta temporarily allowing the Land Titles Office to register documents that have been witnessed, sworn or affirmed by Alberta lawyers using two-way videoconferencing.

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March 30, 2020

The Minister of Justice and Solicitor General has issued a Ministerial Order (MO) to suspend limitation periods and any period of time within which any step must be taken in any proceeding or intended proceeding subject to the discretion of the Court, tribunal, or decision-maker.

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March 17, 2020 

Any Regulation that expires n or after March 31, 2020, up to and including January 31, 2021 is deemed to be a subsisting Regulation and contonies in effect up to and including January 31, 2021.

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