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Nova Scotia provincial court extends shelving of in-person matters

Wednesday, May 12, 2021 @ 2:32 PM | By Terry Davidson

In its continuing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, Nova Scotia’s provincial court is extending its provincewide suspension of in-person hearings until at least the end of May.

According to a May 12 notice, the current suspension will now last until May 31, at which time it will be “re-evaluated as the number of COVID-19 cases in the province and public health restrictions change.”

The suspension of in-person hearings began on April 26 and was initially supposed to last until May 21.  

While this latest directive notes that provincial court judges in certain locations “may require in-person attendance of local counsel for contested bail hearings,” all other in-person appearances currently scheduled through to May 31 will be adjourned and rescheduled.

However, it goes on to state, the suspension will not impact scheduled or new provincial court matters that are able to be done remotely.

“Those matters will proceed, unless the presiding judge orders otherwise,” it states.

A separate notice states that the suspension also applies to the youth justice court. Like the main directive, it states this will not affect scheduled or new matters that can be done remotely.

But the court notes difficulties that may arise for families and calls for those involved to be “flexible.”   

“The Provincial Court appreciates that during the present lockdown, counsel and parties may have family obligations that make it difficult to participate in a virtual court proceeding,” it states. “Counsel are nevertheless encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to move their matters forward. We must all be flexible when it comes to technical difficulties or other challenges that participants may experience during virtual court proceedings.”

On May 11, Nova Scotia’s government reported 118 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of active cases in the province to 1,591.

As of then, there were 64 Nova Scotians being treated for the virus in hospital, including 10 in intensive care units.

As of May 10, 374,903 shots of vaccine had been administered, including 37,784 who had received their second dose.

“Nova Scotia is currently under stronger restrictions to protect public health,” the government stated in a news release. “In an effort to stop the spread of the virus, Nova Scotians are required to remain in their own communities except for essential travel for work, necessary shopping and medical appointments, including vaccination appointments. In this instance 'community' is defined as one’s municipality or county and Nova Scotians should remain as close to home as possible.”

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