- The Government of Alberta continues to issue sector specific guidance for businesses reopening as part of the relaunch strategy. Recent guidance documents have been issued or updated for campgrounds, grocery stores, hotels and vacation rentals, outdoor events, restaurants and bars, taxis and rideshares, drive-in events, public rallies, wellness services, and recreation. All of the guidance documents can be found here.
What we are hearing
- On June 29, 2020, the Provincial Court of Alberta announced that effectively July 6, 2020, it would be increasing the number of matters that can be heard in person at certain locations. The Court will be enforcing strict health and safety measures including physical distancing, wearing masks, modifying courtrooms, and enhanced cleaning.
- All civil matters scheduled after July 6, 2020 will proceed as scheduled, including in-person mediations, pretrial conferences, trials, and other applications. In Edmonton and Calgary, pretrial conferences and applications will be conducted in person. In areas outside of Edmonton and Calgary, pretrial conferences and applications will be conducted by telephone.
- It has been unclear how the Courts would reopen for trials. It may be that the Provincial Court will be the test court, and if it can allow matters to proceed in person without infection, the Court of Queen's Bench may follow the same procedures.
What we are saying
- With the courts slowly reopening and the implementation of new procedures to allow parties to move existing court actions forward, we are confident that the courts will expect parties to show cooperation and good faith effort to facilitate resolution of interim or procedural issues. Although we expect the courts to be sympathetic to struggling businesses engaged in litigation, as we move through Stage 2 of the relaunch, we expect courts will not accept the existence of the public health state of emergency as a continuing excuse for not meeting obligations under the Alberta Rules of Court.
- Our advice is for parties to existing litigation to be ready to move matters forward and find the time to commit to the litigation. If the commitment of such resources at this time is still not possible, litigants should objectively document any ongoing limitations being faced by that party that justifies not taking required steps.