What's New

Welcome to the “What's New?” section of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador  Trial Division (General) website. This section will include information bulletins, links to news releases, event notices, new publications, speeches, photos and other items.

CourtCall-Video Pilot Now Available at the Supreme Court Grand Bank and Clarenville Circuit Court Locations

Please see the Notice to the Profession for details regarding the CourtCall-Video Project in Grand Bank Supreme Court.

New Rule Amendment – Rule 58 – Appeals in the Trial Division (General)

The Rules Committee of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, Trial Division, has recently approved changes to the rules governing appeals in the Trial Division (General Division). For more information about the changes, please see the following Notice to the Profession:

November 2 - Notice to the Profession - Upcoming Rule Amendments - Trial Division Appeals PDF (166 KB)

Wireless Internet Access in Court for Lawyers and Self-Represented Litigants

Starting on May 1, 2015, lawyers and self-represented parties needing wireless internet access in the courtrooms of the St. John's Trial Division of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador will be able to request access to an in-Court wireless network.

The wireless network will be in place to facilitate Court proceedings by allowing lawyers and parties to check email, access their schedules and conduct research. Persons seeking access to the wireless network will be required to complete a request form and agree to the Wireless Guest Access and Electronic Devices Policy which sets out terms of usage for both the network and electronic devices in the Courthouse. Requests must be submitted to the Registry in the Court Centre where access is sought. Access will be valid for a period of 30 days.

New Amendments to the Costs Rules Applicable in Family Law Proceedings

The Rules Committee of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, Trial Division, has recently approved changes to the rules governing costs awards in family law proceedings. For more information about the changes, please see the following Notice to the Profession:

Notice to the Profession – Ammendments to Family Costs Rules PDF (125 KB)

Settlement Conference Guidelines (Family Matters)

The Guidelines for the holding of settlement conferences in family law proceedings are now available.

A new form entitled Settlement Conference Brief (for family proceedings) is also available.

Rules of Court Project

Civil proceedings in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador are governed by the Rules of the Supreme Court, 1986 (the “Rules”) which apply to both the Trial Division and the Court of Appeal. Since their introduction in 1986 the legal landscape in Newfoundland and Labrador has transformed dramatically. The numbers of cases being heard are decreasing and of those being heard more cases, especially those involving family law, have litigants who represent themselves. The nature of the legal business also appears to be changing. Fewer cases in the commercial, business and tort areas are being heard. These developments may be related to the complexity of the procedures that must be followed, leading to unacceptably high costs. In addition, more litigants in the commercial and insurance spheres appear to be resorting to alternative dispute resolution procedures outside the court system so as to reduce costs or to have greater control over their choice of adjudicator. From time to time, both Courts receive complaints from members of the bar and from self-represented litigants that the rules of procedure are, variously, too cumbersome, unnecessarily complex and written in language that could be more intelligible. These complaints mirror criticisms in other parts of the country which have led to reforms elsewhere. It has been suggested that the rules contribute to unnecessarily high costs of litigation and can constitute a barrier to access to justice.

Another criticism that is sometimes leveled at the rules of procedure is that they do not recognize or encourage the use of modern technology in the court system. Such technology has the potential to provide court services at lower cost to litigants. While some inroads have been made on this front, many other opportunities remain to be tapped.

While ad hoc rule revisions are always being undertaken by the two Courts to attempt to address these issues, these trends make a strong case for a comprehensive updating of the rules of procedure in both the Trial Division and the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador is therefore undertaking a comprehensive review of its procedural rules. This review will be done through two separate, but related, programs; one will address the rules of procedure in the Trial Division and the other the rules of procedure in the Court of Appeal. The structure of this work, involving two separate programs under the umbrella of one “Rules of Court Project”, recognizes the distinctiveness and the different needs, functions and procedures of the two divisions of the Supreme Court.

In completing this project, the two Courts will reach out to members of the profession at various times for input and feedback so that this group has a voice in the reform. While consultation on specific matters will follow, at this time we ask that if you have general suggestions or concerns with respect to the rules and procedures in the Trial Division (General or Family) that you communicate these to the Legal Officer of the Supreme Court, Trial Division (andreclair@supreme.court.nl.ca / 729-4743).

J. DEREK GREEN
Chief Justice of
Newfoundland and Labrador

DAVID B. ORSBORN
Chief Justice (A) of the Trial Division

Requesting a Case Management Meeting

The Rules Committee of the Trial Division recently approved changes which affect how a party requests a case management meeting. For more information, please see the Notice to the Profession below.

Amendments to Family Law Rules (Rule 56A)

The Rules Committee of the Trial Division recently approved changes to the family law rules dealing with interim applications, examinations for discovery, financial disclosure and settlement conferences. For more information, please see the Notice to the Profession below.

Court Attire

Access to Court Records in Family Proceedings

Changes to Criminal Proceedings Guidelines

Criminal Proceedings Guidelines have been revised effective March 1, 2013. Please see attached Notice to Profession.

Changes to Rules 7A.04, 20A.08, 55.17 and 56.30

Amendments to the above noted rules were published in the Gazette on December 14, 2012 as Regulation 88/12. The changes to rules 7A.04, 55.17 and 56.30 came into force on publication. The effective date of the changes to rule 20A.08 is February 1, 2013. A Notice to the Profession was distributed outlining the amendments and has been added to the Practice Notes section of this website. Comments on these amendments should be forwarded the Legal Officer of the Trial Division at (709) 729-4743.

Applications Practice Note

A Practice Note on applications was published in the Gazette on October 19, 2012 and is now in force.  It covers a few new procedures for filing documents for applications and outlines what happens when documents for applications are filed late.  A copy of this directive can be found in the Practice Notes section.  Questions and comments should be directed to Angela Whitehead, Legal Officer of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, Trial Division (angelawhitehead@supreme.court.nl.ca / (709) 729-4743). 

New E-mail Address for CD Requests – St. John’s Trial Division (General)

Please note the following change of process within the court. Starting today, July 11, 2012, all requests for CDs of proceedings in the Trial Division (General) of the Supreme Court of NL in the judicial centre of St. John’s must be emailed to CourtReporters@supreme.court.nl.ca or faxed to 709-729-0663 in order to be processed.

Cheques and Money Orders

Effective immediately, cheques and money orders remitted to the Supreme Court must be made payable to “Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador”. Cheques and money orders payable otherwise will be returned for correction. If you have questions, please contact the court house in your area.

Change to Court Attire

Please note that the practice of dispensing with dark clothes in the summer for appearances in Chambers in both the General and Family Divisions of the Trial Division has been DISCONTINUED.

Amendments to Rules 5, 15, 49 and 56A

Changes to Rules 5 (Commencement of Proceedings), 15 (Amendment), 49 (Orders) and 56A (Family Law) will come into force on July 1, 2012. These amendments were published in the Gazette as Regulation 48/12 on May 25, 2012. A Notice to the Profession containing a summary of the changes has been added to the Practice Notes section of this website. Comments on these amendments should be forwarded the Legal Officer of the Trial Division, Angela Whitehead, at (709) 729-4743 or angelawhitehead@supreme.court.nl.ca.

Ex Parte Applications in Family Proceedings

In order to provide some guidance to litigants and their counsel, a new Practice Note relating to applications has been published and was recently uploaded to the Practice Notes section of the court’s website. This new Practice Note applies to all ex parte applications in family proceedings except applications for warrants under the Children and Youth Care and Protection Act. Both the issuance and disposition of such applications are addressed in the Practice Note. If you have any questions or comments, contact the Legal Officer of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, Trial Division, Angela Whitehead at (709) 729-4743 or angelawhitehead@supreme.court.nl.ca

Practice Note on Quebec Notarial Wills

A new Practice Note was published in the Gazette in accordance with Rule 4.04 on August 19, 2011 and can be found on the Practice Notes section of this website. It outlines the appropriate procedure to follow when property has been distributed in Quebec pursuant to a Quebec notarial will and now the executor seeks to distribute property in Newfoundland and Labrador. Comments and questions on this Practice Note should be directed to Angela Whitehead, Legal Officer of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, at (709) 729-4743 or angelawhitehead@supreme.court.nl.ca.

New Scale of Costs in Effect July 1, 2011

A new Scale of Costs was passed by regulation in May 2011. It applies to all matters in the Supreme Court, Trial Division in which an order is made on or after July 1, 2011 for party and party costs to be taxed. This new Scale of Costs replaces the old one and aims to make the issue of costs simpler and more predictable. If you have any questions or comments relating to the new Scale of Costs, please contact the Legal Officer of the Trial Division, Angela Whitehead, at (709) 729-4743 or angelawhitehead@supreme.court.nl.ca.

Changes to Rules 37A, 39 and 40

The Rules Committee of the Trial Division passed amendments to Rules 37A, 39 and 40 which will come into force on January 11, 2011. They were published in the Gazette as Regulation 111/10 on December 17, 2010. A Notice to the Bar containing a summary of the substantive changes along with Tables of Concordance can be found in the Practice Notes section. Any comments on these amendments should be directed to Angela Whitehead, Legal Officer of the Trial Division, at (709) 729-4743 or angelawhitehead@supreme.court.nl.ca.

Criminal Proceedings Guidelines and Forms Now in Force

Further to the Practice Note issued by the Chief Justice and the Registrar, the Criminal Proceedings Guidelines and Forms are now in force in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, Trial Division. A Word and PDF copy of the both the guidelines and the forms are available in the Practice Notes section. The forms are also available in PDF writable format under the Forms section of this website. Any comments on these new guidelines and forms should be directed to Angela Whitehead, Legal Officer of the Trial Division, at (709) 729-4743 or angelawhitehead@supreme.court.nl.ca.

The Honourable Deborah J. Paquette, Q.C., appointed judge of the Trial Division of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador

The Honourable Deborah J. Paquette, Q.C., Assistant Deputy Minister with the Department of Justice of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, is appointed judge of the Trial Division of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador to replace Madam Justice L.R. Hoegg, who was appointed to the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador effective June 18, 2010. The swearing-in ceremony will take place on September 14, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. in Courtroom No. 1, Courthouse, St. John’s, NL.

Official opening of the Corner Brook Law Courts