Since March 23, 2020, the Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan has heard all appeals and applications electronically, either by teleconference or by videoconference. The Court is now preparing to resume in-person hearings, and wishes to advise counsel, litigants, and members of the public of upcoming changes.
Effective Tuesday, September 7, 2021, the Court will resume in-person hearings for all appeals and applications. As of that date, all hearings will occur with judges and court clerks sitting in the court room. However, in the interests of improving access to justice and promoting the open courts principle, counsel and self-represented litigants may, on an ongoing basis, choose at their individual option whether to attend their hearing in person or by WebEx video. This means that some proceedings will feature all of the lawyers and/or self represented litigants being physically present in the courtroom, some might feature only the judges and the clerk in the courtroom with all other participants appearing by Webex, and some might involve some counsel or self represented litigants being physically present and some appearing by WebEx. Recent upgrades to the Court’s audio and visual technology have made this possible.
Counsel and self-represented litigants who elect to appear remotely will not be able to file documents with the Court during the hearing. As such, any documents that have not already been provided to the Court and that counsel or self-represented litigants wish to file must be provided to the other party(s) and the Court’s registry office at least one clear day before the hearing date.
The Court recognizes both the important role that members of the media play in informing the public about its work and the right of individual members of the public to attend its proceedings. As a result of the audio-visual technological upgrades to the courtrooms, both members of the public as well as accredited members of the media may listen to or observe hearings as they occur by contacting the Court’s
registry office in advance for instructions on accessing hearings by WebEx.
The usual courtroom guidelines continue to apply to the audio and video recording of an electronic hearing. Participants may not record or save still images or audio or video of the hearing unless they are accredited members of the media. Accredited members of the media may use recording devices or save audio recordings for the purpose of ensuring the accuracy of their reporting but not for broadcast or publication.
Until such time as the Registry Office reopens to the public, registry staff continue to offer assistance to lawyers and self-represented litigants by telephone at (306) 787-5358. Documents can be delivered to the Registry office via eCourt or by regular mail, email or fax at (306) 787-5815. For documents delivered by eCourt, automatic notification is sent to the filing party when the document is approved for filing or rejected. For documents delivered by regular mail, email or fax, Registry staff will notify litigants by telephone or email if the documents are not approved for filing. For litigants who are unable to use regular mail, email or fax and who need to file documents in person at the Registry office, there is a drop box available. Registry office staff continue to check the drop box several times each day. They will notify litigants by telephone or email if the documents received in the drop box are not approved for filing.
Notwithstanding the lifting of public health measures by the Province, and while masks are no longer required to be worn to enter the court house, the Court or presiding judge may still require that masks be worn and that physical distance be maintained in a courtroom during any proceeding.
The Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan thanks everyone for their patience and support, which has allowed the Court to maintain its hearing schedule since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.