Alberta courts to delay matters, move proceedings online as COVID-19 cases soar

The Provincial Court of Alberta is making a number of changes as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to soar in the province.

Effective Monday, the majority of matters will either be handled remotely or dealt with at a later date “in an effort to reduce the risks posed by the surging number of COVID-19 cases in the province,” according to the Provincial Court of Alberta.

“Throughout this pandemic, the Provincial Court of Alberta has worked to ensure the safety of everyone in our courthouses. As the virus has surged all across Alberta over the past three weeks, it has become clear that we need to do more to address these risks,” Provincial Court of Alberta chief judge Derek Redman said in a media release.

“Albertans have a right to a judicial system that provides expedient and fair rulings, but this can’t come at the cost of health and safety.”

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In-custody matters and matters with an urgent need of the court’s attention will be prioritized.

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The new measures that are in place include:

  • No traffic court matters will be dealt with in person
  • Circuit court dockets will be handled remotely, and no personal attendance will be allowed
  • Low-complexity out-of-custody trials (other than domestic violence) that are scheduled between Dec. 14, 2020 and Jan. 8, 2021 will be adjourned to new dates
  • At regional courts, family and child protection docket matters will proceed remotely
  • At regional courts, civil matters will be heard remotely
  • At regional courts, youth matters will be heard remotely
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Access to provincial courthouses will be restricted to only those who are necessary to the proceedings before the court, which includes counsel, litigants and witnesses when advised they must attend in person, in-custody accused, sureties and members of the media.

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The Provincial Court of Alberta is the busiest court in Alberta, with 95 per cent of all matters beginning and ending at the provincial court level. Every year, more than 500,000 people interact with the Provincial Court of Alberta in some way.

Alberta recorded a new daily high number of COVID-19 cases at 1,887. There were 15 additional deaths reported Monday, bringing the province’s death toll to 733.

As of Monday afternoon, 716 Albertans were in hospital with COVID-19, 136 of whom were being treated in the ICU.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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