East Coast court adjusting for rise in commercial bankruptcies

By Terry Davidson

Law360 Canada (January 26, 2021, 3:29 PM EST) -- A Nova Scotia court is making changes in anticipation of a spike in commercial bankruptcy and insolvency caused by the COVID-19 health crisis.

According to a Jan. 25 notice to the profession, the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia General Division has unveiled a new process for scheduling such matters in the provincial capital of Halifax.

Two Supreme Court judges have been designated to hear “matters involving issues of commercial insolvency law,” including proceedings under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA) and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA).

A court spokesperson confirmed the new process will, for the most part, not include personal bankruptcies, as most of these go through the Registrar of Bankruptcy.

“Although an individual could come before the Supreme Court, we’re expecting that this new process will deal almost exclusively with commercial insolvencies,” they said in an e-mail to The Lawyer’s Daily.  

Until now, commercial insolvency proceedings in Halifax were scheduled along with other civil “Special Time Chambers” matters, states the notice. The new process means that, now, commercial insolvencies will be scheduled separately and heard by either Justice Darlene Jamieson or Justice John Bodurtha.

“When filing an insolvency matter in Halifax, counsel should ensure their cover letter identifies the matter as a BIA or CCAA matter, includes brief details on the matter and a reasonable estimate of the amount of time required to hear the matter,” it states. “All filings will be forwarded to Justice Jamieson prior to the matter being scheduled. Counsel are expected to comply with the Civil Procedure Rules relating to Special Time Chambers filing timelines, unless the matter is determined to be urgent or the judge directs otherwise.”

Those wanting their matter to be heard on an urgent basis should provide details when filing, including the reason for the request, the expected length of time it will take to hear the matter and if there are any “mutually convenient dates.”

The notice states that the new process will target matters that are more complex and expected to take longer to complete.

Those expected to take less than 30 minutes, are uncontested, involving no cross-examination and “otherwise appropriate for General Chambers” will continue to be scheduled in the usual fashion.

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