Bench/Bar -2- Trials and Pretrials
The following is part a series of Camberwell House summaries of some key court and courthouse information as recently relayed to the Middlesex Law Association by Justice Duncan Grace, Regional Senior Justice Bruce Thomas, and Trial Coordinator Joy Beattie. It is not in the order of the notes provided by the Courthouse, but is organized by topic.
- All civil matters between March 19 to May 31 have been adjourned By endorsement of Mr. Justice Grace.
- All hearings after March 19 are suspended indefinitely other than “Urgent Matters” which are to be strictly limited.
- At the moment the Court will not conduct civil pre-trials. If there is a case that meets the urgency pre-requisite, then yes they would be conducted by teleconference and electronic delivery of materials to email address. There are province-wide efforts to provide viable alternatives. The option of using private technology put in place by the private bar (to take the load off the trial coordinators) is being examined. They expect that there will be a broadening of services after April 6 but don’t know what that will look like.
- Assignment Court: Not sure what that will look like and when we will be in a position to do so in the future. It is impossible to think about fixing trial dates now. Will not and can’t do assignment court now because we don’t know when we will be able to schedule them for. We don’t know if the pre-trials and trials will be pushed back further. It is premature to hold civil assignment court during period of suspension.
- It is not yet known how the adjournment of current trials and other matters will impact court appearances and trials currently scheduled for after the resumption of operations in June, especially the fall trial sittings. The court will have a host of criminal matters to reschedule aggressively and will probably require all hands on deck for criminal for a while.
- In Simplified Procedure cases, the court will likely not actually force pre-trials to be set down within 180 days of the close of pleadings during this suspension of activity.
- In cases where trials have been adjourned multiple times due to issues with a lack of judicial resources, the Court has always attempted to get a fixed date if possible.
- When setting a trial date in Assignment Court in cases where these trials that have been adjourned multiple times, the Court the court will attempt to get a fixed date [to assist with selecting a time, hopefully if it could have a greater likelihood of being called and/or take priority].
- The Court will consider scheduling a civil status Court after resumption of activities after the crisis so we can speak to matters instead of having to bring motions unnecessarily. However, the Court won’t do it on an ongoing basis because they have to wait until the Wednesday before the Monday to determine which criminal maters need to be dealt with and which judges are available. It’s pointless to have a civil status court on a regular basis.
- Everyone should be aware of Rule 53.03 [Expert Witnesses] – The court is focused on wanting a timetable in place as of the date that the trial is set. It is expected that in addition to the date, parties must identify a specialty (not necessarily the name of the expert). The timetable can be negotiated considering an appropriate timetable. The Court recognizes that counsel don’t always know for sure and circumstances may change, but it should be a timetable that is arrived at in accordance of all the needs. The timetable needs to keep with the letter and spirit of the sub-rule.
- If the parties want to bring a motion to adjourn a trial on consent, it can it be submitted by way of basket motion.
- Certain matters will have to be addressed later. (For example, “If trials scheduled for the fall cannot proceed because a necessary pre-trial motion cannot be argued in time, is there a way to bring this to the court’s attention?”) They may have to be dealt with on a case by case basis. “Not sure if we will have to have everyone bring motions, rather the Court may have a civil status court to address those matters so that everyone doesn’t have to bring motions to adjourn trials.”