Ontario Court Closures
As schools, restaurants, and all non-essential services and businesses close due to COVID-19 concerns many are left wondering whether they should still attend their court dates or whether courts have closed as well. This article will provide clarification of which court appearances will still go ahead as planned and which have been cancelled.
Ontario Court of Justice
In general if you were scheduled to attend the Ontario Court of Justice (OCJ) for a family matter, criminal matter, or Provincial Offences Act matter, you no longer need to attend. The exception to this is if your court date was for an urgent family matter or an in-custody urgent criminal matter. The Ontario Courts of Justice will otherwise remain open as provided below.
Family Court – Child Protection Matters
Family court hearings for child protection matters in accordance with the Child, Youth and Family Services Act will remain open and continue as scheduled for the following:
· Temporary care and custody hearings (s. 94)
· Place of safety hearings (s. 90)
· Restraining orders (s. 137)
· Status review hearings (s. 113)
· Secure treatment hearings (s. 161)
Family Court – Domestic/Separation Matters
Family court hearings for all domestic/separation matters will remain open and continue as scheduled for the following:
· Urgent motions for custody/access
· Motions for restraining orders
· Hague applications and non-Hague abduction cases
Family Court – Family Responsibility Office (FRO) Matters
Motions for refraining orders will continue as scheduled.
All other non-urgent family matters and trials will be adjourned for eight (8) – twelve (12) weeks. Litigants, parties, and counsel can send adjournment requests by way of Form 17F: Confirmation of Conference or Form 14B: Motion Form.
Criminal Court – Out of Custody
Though criminal courts remain open, if you are currently not in custody and have a criminal court hearing scheduled anytime between March 16 – April 3, 2020 you do not need to attend court as the court date will be rescheduled. To find out when your court date has been adjourned to check: https://www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/general-public/list-of-adjournment-dates-for-criminal-matters/.
If your matter is urgent, you or your lawyer may attend the court date and address the matter. The date will otherwise be adjourned with a “discretionary bench warrant” and you will have to attend the newly scheduled court date. If you fail to attend the newly scheduled court date a bench warrant may be issued for your arrest and attendance at the new court date.
If your criminal court date is after April 3, 2020 you can check https://www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/for updated information.
Criminal Court – In Custody
Bail courts will remain open to provide all in-custody accused with an opportunity for bail. If you have a bail hearing scheduled it will go ahead as planned.
All information provided is updated and relevant as of March 19, 2020. Please check https://www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/ for updates and continued development.