How Has COVID-19 Affected the Canadian Legal System?
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on every level of Canadian society, including its legal, court, and justice systems. While many of the lawyers listed in our extensive Canadian lawyer directory have been able to continue working on clients’ cases, in-person judge and jury trials have become non-existent, and many critical legal procedures are now subject to delays.
Here are some of the ways that the Canadian court system has been affected by this unprecedented global emergency.
In line with recommendations from public health agencies, access to physical courts has been largely restricted across Canada. All activities involving more than a handful of people have been severely curtailed, and public access to the courts has been essentially cut off.
It is difficult to predict when access to the courts will resume in full. Different jurisdictions will resume normal operations at different times. Provinces with minor outbreaks such as New Brunswick and Saskatchewan may reopen imminently. In Ontario and Quebec, which have borne the brunt of the virus’s impact in Canada, physical distancing measures may be in place for many months to come.
All court systems are doing as much as possible to allow legal proceedings to continue virtually. This effort has included allowing filings and submissions to proceed electronically where they were previously required in person. It has also included – as in much of the working world – virtual meetings via platforms like Zoom and Skype.
Several lawyers have noted in the past several months that Canada’s court system has been historically slow to adopt new technology. There is hope that the COVID-19 crisis has provided the necessary impetus for Canadian legal systems to prioritize – or at the very least accept – remote proceedings and other technological tools.
The Canadian court system has never been known for its speed and efficiency. As any personal injury victim seeking compensation to cover medical expenses can attest, the wheels of justice turn slowly.
Unfortunately, the pandemic and ensuing lock downs have exacerbated the problem. Defence lawyers, plaintiff lawyers, judges, and all other parties involved in the legal process have been forced to confront a new and unfamiliar reality.
Lawyers Continue Working for their Clients
Despite the delays in the court system, most lawyers, including the majority of those listed in our Canadian lawyer directory, remain hard at work on their clients’ cases. If you or someone you love is in need of experienced legal representation, browse our directory of qualified Canadian lawyers to find great representation today.