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How Does My Litigation Proceed with Social Distancing?

Just as social distancing has changed how we communicate with our family and friends, it has changed how lawyers are communicating with their clients. Face to face meetings are no longer possible until pandemic restrictions are eased.

Communications with your lawyer are essential to your understanding how your litigation is progressing, and to having your questions answered. Technology is allowing counsel to continue to keep their clients informed, and to continue to move their clients’ matters forward.

Virtual face to face meetings, using video conferencing platforms, are being used so that lawyers can continue to “meet” with their clients. These platforms are especially helpful when documents need to be reviewed. However, caution should be exercised with sharing documents through the platform. It is better to exchange documents over encrypted email to protect the security and confidentiality of the information.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has been closed for all civil proceedings except certain urgent matters. On April 2, the Superior Court expanded documents that could be filed electronically, and started to hear pre-trial conferences for settlement purposes only via teleconference (per specific regional direction). An E-hearings Task Force has been established with members of The Advocates’ Society, the Ontario Bar Association, the Federation of Ontario Law Associations, and the Ontario Trial Lawyers’ Association to work with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to expand virtual access to the courts.

Despite litigants only having limited access to the court at this time, counsel is able to continue to progress their clients’ lawsuits. Many reporting centres have started to utilize video conferencing in order to conduct Examinations for Discovery and Examinations Under Oath. Mediators have also adopted video conferencing so that parties can continue with mediations to try to resolve their legal disputes.

The Covid pandemic has changed how we do many things in our daily lives. It has not however, prevented your Lerners lawyer from continuing to advance your legal matter.

Alysia Christiaen

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