A message from our President Chris Ecklund:
…please scroll down for hourly/daily updates…
Over the past few weeks, it’s become clear that the world is facing an unprecedented challenge. Like you, we are deeply concerned and want to do what we can to help keep our staff and our families safe and healthy.
Today a lot has happened and next week we expect more, here are some of the closures.
In Ontario the Superior Court of Justice has released several directives, all sittings of small claims court will be cancelled starting Monday March 16 2020. We expect different courts and provinces will follow as well, please make sure you call ahead to your local court and or check their website for more details. This will no doubt be changing daily if not hourly.
The ability for us to issue your documents in person at the counter or attend a court for you remains to be answered, at this time the counters remain open. It is best that you call the court in question to find out what their situation is, please note that this could change very quickly.
We would like to remind you that some courts now offer on-line services to issue your documents, please check with your local court and use this service if available.
The Coronavirus (Covid-19) is on all of our minds and I want to let you know of some changes we have had to implement for the safety of all.
Our head office located in Hamilton will remain open to serve you but with some added safety protocols implemented. Our office will be closed to visitors, but we have a mail box outside that all couriers and those that need to drop off documents can be left. On the top of our website see the contact us section if you need to call ahead first.
There will no doubt be disruptions in delivery of documents to us by the couriers and post, so think about an alternative if possible.
All of office locations in Canada are set up for alternative delivery of documents, you can do this by email. Please consult our office locations tab on our website and send your files directly to the office that you need service in.
If you are sending documents by courier to any of our locations please make sure that you do not have signature required as a delivery option. Arrangements are being made for all offices to be able to accept packages without having a person to sign for them.
UPDATE MARCH 24.
We have been ruled as an Essential Service to The Province of Ontario. From the Premiers Office, in relation to “Essential Services”, ..(Item 17, Justice Sector, # 61., Professional and social services that support the legal and justice system…) We now have the legal authority under this ruling to remain open and serve the legal community and others that are in need of our services. This shall in no way mean that it will be business as usual, far from it, things are still changing daily if not hourly, and the final word is in the hands of each office and individual server in the field.
UPDATE MARCH 23
The Premier of Ontario will be announcing tomorrow that all non-essential business’s must be closed. We will await the announcement and await to see were we fit into this. Regardless of the Province ALL legal professionals need to ask themselves the question if there matter has to be done on an emergency basis or not. If not then wait till the crisis has passed.
UPDATE 6:35 PM., I have written the Premiers Office looking for clarification on this issue, the ban will come into effect at 11:59 p.m., tomorrow, if we are affected by this, I will post it here.
UPDATE MARCH 22.
Effective immediately for the best interests and safety of staff, head office will be reduced to 1 person at a time. We will work in shifts, around the clock if needed. This step was taken to give our staff the highest degree of safety from the virus lowering its chance of passing from another. We are also working weekends as well. Please note that during these reduced staffing situations we may not be able to answer your call if you need us. We want to remind all clients, that if you need a service in a field office to email that location directly and they will get back to you. Calling head office to call our field offices is a duplication of time and effort, so PLEASE contact each office individually. Monday we will open at 5 a.m., and remain open till approx 7 p.m., maybe longer. There are obviously no rush services and absolutely no guarantees of anything moving forwards as things are changing by the hour. Our servers in the field have the final say on if a service can be viewed as not safe for them, like an apartment building, small closed in area, etc… Services on business operations obviously will most likely have to wait if they are closed. We may at times have to call the person being served and or business to find a safe place for service.
UPDATE MARCH 21.
Order under s. 7.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act suspending limitation periods and procedural time periods retroactive to March 16, 2020. This was passed and entered Friday covering The Province of Ontario. It will remain in effect until the emergency has ended. Other provinces will no doubt be doing the same, please consult your local Province for more information.
UPDATE MARCH 20.
Court closures are coming in across the Country, some of the specialty courts in Toronto and Ottawa are completely shut down. Others are now on a restricted schedule with only emergency issuing and filings being accepted. Please make sure that you call the court in question to verify BEFORE you ask us to attend, as this can change daily if not hourly. If you can issue and file your documents online then do it this way. We are finding that many legal support staff and lawyers are unaware of this service that is offered in their home province, please research this for your court in question. For example in Ontario many courts have an online system, you make up an account, and then issue your documents via your computer, no need to have us attend in person. We have made a lot of changes at our head office and our staff are using all the space possible in our 3 story office building to stay safe. We also have staff working at home as well. Obviously service levels have dropped across Canada for us and every business keep this in mind. Also note that most business operations that we usually are asked to serve are now closed, so we may have to wait till they re-open once we have beaten this virus. What you also need to know is that the courts will obviously grant extensions of time if you are at your limit, to issue, serve or file, so keep this in mind. Our process servers are still serving, as long as it is safe to do so.
Here are some tips you can do to keep us all safe.
Please refrain from licking any envelopes when sending documents, use peel and stick or scotch tape to close envelopes.
Consider sending all documents for service by email, this is faster, and safer.
Our servers are at the front line out there keep this in mind, we will never ask them to enter into a situation that does not provide good social distancing, this is at the discretion of the server.
We may have to get creative or look at alternative ways of service, and other aspects of completing our duties for you, we are all making this up as we go, these are unprecedented times.
Affidavits of service may come back to you unsworn, if we do not have a commissioner available or it is unsafe to attend the court and or Notary to swear to. If this happens the server can swear it over the phone with you at a later date. This has been approved in Ontario, and may also be in your own Province. Head office will swear affidavits of service by phone and or video conference as well, we have made the service available to all our offices.
We may have to return an affidavit of service without a Notary sworn affidavit and replace it with a commissioned one if needed. This is actually an old draconian law that needs to be changed anyways, the Provinces need to get together on this, it is the biggest waste of time, money and resources in our field. Remember the entire country is effected by this virus, and we need to all be understanding of this.
The wheels of justice have not stopped, they have just slowed down.
Be well, stay safe, practice proper social distancing, and reach out to any and all front line responders that you may know to offer them your help, and appreciation for what they are all doing to keep us safe.
Please visit The Canadian Heroes Foundation face book page to see what they are doing to thank them.
At the end of the day all we have is each other.
Yours in service,