The Alberta Provincial Court will start limiting its operations due to COVID-19.
The courts announced that starting on March 17, any family, civic, criminal court, provincial offences and traffic court appearances will be limited.
“You do not need to attend unless the matter is an in-custody or urgent criminal matter, or an urgent family or child protection matter,” the press release said.
The courts will no longer allow any members of the public in the courtrooms unless they are required for the matter before the court, including media and witnesses. Legal counsel is allowed to access the courthouse for urgent court-related business.
The courts ask people who are self-isolating to not enter their buildings.
The Alberta Justice and Solicitor General announced on Monday that family, professional and volunteer visits to all provincial jails, remand centres and youth facilities are suspended.
Youth and criminal matters
For matters where the accused is not in custody but has a slated appearance in the Alberta Provincial Court between March 17 and May 22, they do not need to attend court.
“The Court website will be updated regularly to provide information regarding rescheduling, which will be 10 weeks from the date of your scheduled court appearance or the next court date thereafter,” the release said.
Courts will be hearing urgent out of custody criminal matters with leave of a judge. And the court will be available to process urgent warrants and judicial authorizations.
Civil matters, with the exception of pre-trial conferences and case management that are set to proceed before May 22 will be adjourned indefinitely and parties will be contacted by the local trial coordinator or the court about rescheduled dates.
Urgent landlord and tenant matters and other urgent matters will proceed with leave of the court.
Civil pretrial conferences and case management will be conducted by telephone.
Desk assessments and desk applications will continue.
Parties may contact the civil division regarding scheduling by calling their local courthouse
Family and Child protection
Non-urgent family matters set to be heard after March 17, 2020, will be adjourned for 10 weeks from the scheduled court date.
The court website will be updated regularly to provide information regarding rescheduling, which will be 10 weeks from the date of a scheduled court appearance or the next court date thereafter.
The following matters are considered urgent and will be heard by the court:
- matters with statutory limitations or deadlines;
- where there is the risk of violence or immediate harm to one of the parties or the child;
- where there is risk of removal of a child;
- apprehension orders;
- Initial custody hearings,
- first appearance after apprehension, and
- mandatory reviews or show causes under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, Protection of Children Abusing Drugs Act, Protection of Sexually Exploited Children Act, Mandatory Drug Testing and Disclosure Act, and Mental Health Act;
- warrants, and
- emergency protection orders.
Family pretrial conferences, child protection case management meetings and judicial dispute resolutions will be conducted by telephone unless adjourned.
Any child protection hearing where the parties have consented to a return, supervision order, temporary guardianship order or permanent guardianship order will occur on an as-needed basis.
Until further notice, all traffic courts in Alberta will be closed in the province effective March 17. If you have a matter scheduled, you do not need to attend court in person, however, you will need to exercise one of the following options:
- Fine payments can be made by mail, through a registry office or online at https://eservices.alberta.ca/fine-payments.html
- Time to Pay extensions, time to pay requests, adjournment requests and not guilty pleas can be made by contacting the local courthouse by phone, e-mail or fax. Further updates regarding contact information will be provided.
- If you fail to notify the requisite court location of your intention on what you intend to do on the matter by e-mail, fax or phone you will be convicted in absence. Please note that if you fail to contact your local courthouse on any of these matters a conviction in absence may apply.