It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all of us in a way unknown before now. While we are all doing our part to stay home, comply with social distancing rules and self-isolate where necessary, the world of litigation has not come to a standstill, and we are taking all necessary steps to adjust to our “new normal.”
While the courts in Manitoba are temporarily closed to many matters (see Court Closures link for more information), at Pitblado Law, our litigation team is continuing to work, albeit remotely.
Client meetings can and are taking place remotely, with the assistance of technologies such as Skype or Zoom. Where signatures are required on documents, we are adapting ways to virtually meet with clients, where possible.
For now, the Court Registry in Manitoba remains open. This means that limitation periods for claims and timelines prescribed under our Court of Queen’s Bench Rules for filing a defence and other materials are not suspended. Likewise, limitation periods continue to apply to disputes that must be referred to arbitration pursuant to a binding arbitration agreement. Out of court matters are being dealt with on a case-by-case basis by counsel.
What will happen after April 17?
At this time, it is unknown whether the Courts will continue their suspension of court activity after April 17, 2020 or whether some semblance of normal court proceedings will resume.
We note that the court is still scheduling certain matters for May and June, before its annual summer recess, and we may learn that certain hearings, such as case management conferences or pre-trial conferences, for example, will be permitted to occur remotely, rather than in person.
Likewise, where there are examinations for discovery that are scheduled in the coming months, thought is being given to whether those examinations can be conducted remotely, or whether the rules of social distancing can be maintained within a boardroom setting.
Work is ongoing
Rest assured that much of the litigation process occurs outside of the courtroom, and our team is continuing to work on files throughout this pandemic.
Please do not hesitate to contact your relationship partner or lawyer if you have any questions or if we can be of assistance in guiding you through these new challenges.
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This article represents general information and is not legal advice. Please contact us if you would like legal advice that is tailored to your particular circumstances. We would be happy to help.