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Quebec justice system at a standstill

The Quebec justice system is on pause.

Days after the Quebec government declared a public health emergency to slow the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, courthouses across the province suspended the majority of their activities.

The courts too are at a standstill, except for urgent measures. Here is a breakdown.

The Quebec Court of Appeal issued new guidelines on March 24, 2020.

Civil procedure time limits have been suspended until March 29, 2020, the day when the state of health emergency ostensibly will end. As a result, the deadline for filing notices of appeal or applications for leave to appeal has been suspended. So too have the time limits for filing briefs, memoranda and books of authorities in civil matters.

For urgent matters, parties are asked to reach the appeal court’s office and send by fax or email a detailed explanation of the reasons for emergency. Situations like child abductions, confinement in an institution, orders for treatment and other similar matters as well as proceedings in habeas corpus are examples of what the appeal court may consider to be urgent.

Time limits for criminal matters have not been suspended. Notices of appeal and applications for leave to appeal must be filed within the usual time limits.

Time limits for penal matters have been suspended, except for those deemed to be urgent.

The Quebec Superior Court has suspended its regular activities until May 1, 2020.

With immediate effect, civil and family hearings, settlement conferences, class actions and trials have been put on hold. Only urgent matters will be heard, and mostly through videoconferencing or teleconferencing.

Quebec Superior Court divisions around the province have issued directives. It can be read here.

The Court of Quebec also has postponed all its regular activities, up until May 31, 2020.

Matters to be heard by the Court of Quebec have been suspended, including civil, family, penal and youth protections cases. Also covered by the suspension are municipal courts and the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal.

Only matters deemed to be urgent will be heard, and each Court of Quebec division has issued directives and a list of what it considers to be urgent. It can be read here.

All administrative tribunals have suspended their activities.

Here is a list of invaluable resources that provides up-to-date information on Quebec legal developments regarding the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Quebec legal society has compiled a comprehensive list of directives and guidelines. It can be read here.

The Quebec Ministry of Justice also provides a list of guidelines. It also includes a list of matters deemed to be urgent.

The Quebec Superior Court divisions have issued directives. It can be read here.

Directives by the Court of Quebec can be read here.

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I am an award-winning legal and business journalist. I have written for Canadian Lawyer, the National, a magazine published by the Canadian Bar Association, and The Lawyers Daily and The Lawyer's Weekly, an independent legal Canadian publication. This website is in no way affiliated with any of these publications.

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