Canadian Lawyer

March 2021

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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www.canadianlawyermag.com 33 cases are entitled to 70 per cent of their previous gross income until the time of trial. From the time the trial starts, it is based on 100 per cent. "So, if cases are delayed for a long time, it is a real loss to the plaintiff." Campisi says that a judge-alone trial simplifies things dramatically from a plain- tiff 's perspective when it can be done during the pandemic via Zoom or some other remote technology. The defence side, usually insur- ance companies, tends to favour jury trials as they tend to be more conservative when making awards. In British Columbia, the court system has suspended civil jury trials at least until next fall. Still, judge-alone trials are in full swing — or as much as cleaning protocols and other COVID-19 factors have allowed. Richard Parsons, a partner with Collette Parsons Corrin LLP in Vancouver, says he has participated in several court hearings since the start of the pandemic and appreciates the diligence being taken for simple things such as sanitizing between witnesses. "We've noticed things getting bumped, but the court has really done a lot to keep things going." As for jury trials, which have been "When setting an action down for trial, we're getting a delayed response from the court and told there is a huge backlog." Joseph Campisi, Campisi Personal Injury Lawyers ANATOMY OF PANDEMIC HEARING IN COURT Courtroom social distancing, reduced capacity Contact reduced use of robe rooms, extensive cleaning Documents copies on a table in advance of hearing, cleaning protocols followed Witnesses flexible in-court or virtual at judge's discretion Jury selection (when possible) : need for alternate, large location for choosing suspended, Parsons says, "You can't force a large group of jurors into a small place together during COVID-19, so that is a wise move." Parsons did end up dealing with one case where an insurance company wanted a jury trial this summer despite a date already set for a judge-alone proceeding, even if it meant postponing the trial until after the pandemic. In the end, the case did go to trial with only a judge, as the defence pulled its application for a jury trial. Keeping the trial option (with only a judge) is essential, Parsons says, even from the perspective of creating pressure to settle.

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