I recently attended a CPD (Continuing Professional Development) Webinar about remote court hearings to get a better idea how its going to work when I eventually have to participate in one.
The main theme of the Small Claims Court component of that CPD was that Small Claims Court was not proceeding the same way the Superior Court has been due to the Deputy Judges not having the same access to records and Zoom as the Justices and Masters in Superior Court and getting them connected would take some time.
“We are on it” was all they said about Small Claims Court. It did not seem very promising.
Fast forward three hours after the CPD, and an updated Notice to the Profession regarding Small Claims Court was released.
Prior to this Notice, Small Claims Court hearings by Zoom and telephone were very limited.
With the new Notice, we are finally able to move Assessments forward, regardless of when the Defendant(s) was noted in default. This is great news for our clients who have been waiting months to obtain judgments. Hopefully we can still enforce these judgments after this significant delay. Thanks, COVID.
Settlement Conferences will now be taking place by Zoom if the Defence was filed by August 31, 2020. The previous deadline was March 16, 2020. This will potentially help settle some matter or just get one step closer to Trial.
The criteria for the request for a Settlement Conference no longer requires consent from the other parties, however, it is best to do so to make sure there are no scheduling conflicts. This also puts the other parties on Notice that you intend to move the matter forward.
There is still no word on when Trials will resume or if they too will take place by way of Zoom. Time will tell.
Finally, some movement in the Small Claims Court means that we can proceed with so many matters that our clients have been waiting very patiently to move forward.
Murray Brown, Licensed Paralegal