The legal landscape has changed as a result of Covid-19. While the global pandemic has been incredibly disruptive, the legal community is using the tools available to effectively move matters through the court system despite serious challenges. Likewise, the Court is embracing these changes, as illustrated in a recent case.
The central issue in Kasatani v. Matsubara 2020 BCSC 1960 was the validity of a will. This specific court application was heard before Mr. Justice Gomery by teleconference regarding the question of whether use of video conferencing technology services (such as Zoom) would be appropriate given that the Plaintiff wished to appear by videoconference. Ordinarily, the Plaintiff, being the central witness at trial would be required to attend in person to give their evidence.
Unfortunately, the Plaintiff in this case was residing in Tokyo and likely unable to travel to Vancouver for trial in January 2021 due to COVID travel restrictions. On the Plaintiff’s application under Evidence Act, s. 73(2), the court permitted her to give her trial evidence by videoconference including the presence of the interpreter in courtroom in Vancouver.
The Defendant vigorously opposed the motion of the Plaintiff on the basis that in the circumstances, having the Plaintiff appear by videoconference and using an interpreter in Vancouver would be “contrary to the principles of fundamental justice”.
However, the Court found that video conferencing was now commonplace in the Court system and judges were accustomed to making determinations of credibility and reliability while using this technology.
Many businesses have been forced to close, limit their hours, or reduce their capacity. Despite a vaccine, the economic impact will likely continue, particularly in the face of new strains of the virus.
On January 28, 2021, the Ontario Superior Court addressed “inadequacies in current legal responses to internet defamation and harassment” by creating a new tort of internet harassment and cyber bullying.