Nunavut court suspends operations, cancels all travelling circuits
Until Jan. 8, only remote activities will occur
In response to the worsening COVID-19 outbreak in the territory, the Nunavut Court of Justice will suspend all regular operations until Jan. 8, including all travelling court circuits.
Bonnie Tulloch, the acting chief justice, announced the emergency closure order in a memo released on Thursday, Nov. 19.
She did this after the chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, issued a Nunavut-wide lockdown order that started Nov. 18 and will continue until Dec. 2
Tulloch responded by holding a meeting with members of the Nunavut bar, including government and private-sector lawyers, as well as the manager of the court services division within the Department of Justice, to tell them about the suspension.
“The decision to suspend regular operations was made solely on pressing public health considerations,” Tulloch said.
At the same time, the court will continue to hear matters that can be dealt with remotely.
If lawyers believe a case can be handled remotely, they can let the Nunavut court’s civil or criminal registries know via email.
And the court will continue to do detention reviews for prisoners who are being held. The court will maintain a “skeletal staff” to handle those, Tulloch said.
All civil matters are suspended “sine die,” a Latin legal term which means without a fixed date, until Jan. 8.
But all child welfare and guardianship matters will be heard, she said.
As well, the court will still hold judicial pre-trial conferences and bail hearings, she said.
The court changes were announced as Nunavut continues to respond to an increasing number of COVID-19 cases.
As of Nov. 19, Nunavut had reported 74 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19. Of those, 57 are in Arviat, eight are in Whale Cove, seven are in Rankin Inlet, and two are in Sanikiluaq.