Virtual court options, including remote appearances by telephone and video conferencing platforms, allowed courts to hear more matters during the pandemic. Virtual court continues to be available for most appeal, civil, criminal and family law matters across Nova Scotia.
What is virtual court?
These are fully remote or hearings with remote aspects by telephone, videoconferencing or a combination of the two technologies. Virtual court options allow the courts to hear more matters during the pandemic and are a helpful option when courtrooms are too small to hold in-person hearings and still respect physical distancing.
What technology do the Nova Scotia Courts use?
The Nova Scotia Courts use Microsoft Teams for virtual court proceedings and many types of remote appearances. Counsel, self-represented individuals and others who anticipate being involved with virtual court proceedings are encouraged to prepare accordingly. That includes installing the free Microsoft Teams software on your desktop and mobile devices.
Counsel and others are encouraged to review the Teams training materials developed by Microsoft, available online here.
Resources to Help Prepare for Virtual Court
Conduct, Decorum and Expectations for Virtual Court
Best Practices for Remote Hearings
Default Positions for the Format of Proceedings in the Supreme Court
Impact of Virtual Court Proceedings on Historically Marginalized Communities
In 2021-22, the Nova Scotia Courts undertook a project to better understand the impact of virtual court proceedings on historically marginalized individuals and communities in Nova Scotia.
Three law students from Pro Bono Dalhousie were commissioned to assist with this project. Working with Justice Anne Derrick, staff in the Executive Office of the Judiciary, and judicial members of the All Courts Virtual Court Committee, the students spent several months interviewing court users, community leaders, counsel and others on their experiences with virtual court.
"What We Heard" is an overview of the feedback of survey participants that relates specifically to the impact of virtual court on historically marginalized individuals and communities. Feedback outside the scope of the project was not included in this overview.
What We Heard - Impact of Virtual Court Proceedings on Historically Marginalized Communities
Cowan Internship Project - Listening and Responding to the Future of Virtual Court
Every year, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal supports a summer internship project for a law student to research a topic of the Court's choosing. In 2022, the Cowan intern looked at the future of virtual courts in Canada in a post-pandemic era.
2022 Cowan Report - Listening and Responding to the Future of Virtual Court