Everybody is being affected by the current global pandemic. The impact on legal services varies country-to-country, province-to-province, and even office-to-office. This post is to explain the effects of COVID-19 to the legal services in Medicine Hat, as provided by Hill and Hill Law. This post is current as of May 29, 2020.
As of May 29, 2020, the Provincial Government and Chief Medical Officer of Health continue to prohibit the gathering of large groups of people. This includes the large gathering in courthouses and law offices.
Please be aware that our office remains open by appointment only. The door is locked during the day. We are doing everything possible to sanitize and maintain a clean and safe environment. Our staff sanitizes before any client walks through the door. We also disinfect after each client leaves the office. Most of the staff, including our lawyers, are working at least part-time from home.
Our Medicine Hat lawyers are committed to following the social distancing measures as directed by Alberta Health Services. Hand sanitizer and soap is readily available. Only on rare occasions are there more than five people in the office at the same time. The number of people in the office is usually kept between two to four. The office is still functioning as follows:
Our Medicine Hat lawyers are still handling any real estate transaction. This includes any sale, purchase, or refinancing of your property. The Land Titles office in Calgary is still open and operational, and so are we. Contact us today to receive a free lawyer consultation and quote.
Because other areas of law will likely be slower during this time, the personal injury lawyers at Hill and Hill Law are focusing much of their attention on current personal injury files. Free personal injury legal advice and initial consultations are free of charge. Consultations may be made by telephone. We have noticed insurance adjusters and lawyers are as available as they were before COVID-19. If you were involved in a car accident, a slip and fall, a bicycle accident, injured in another type of accident, or have a family member involved in a fatal accident, then contact us immediately. If you wait too long to start your claim, you run the risk of losing your claim entirely.
Wills, estates, and guarantees
During this pandemic, it is understandable that people will want to get their estate plan finalized. We continue to offer this service. Our lawyers are available to draft wills, personal directives, and enduring power of attorney documents. In May 2020 there was a Ministerial Order that allows video witnessing. This is available until around July 15, 2020. Video witnessing is only allowed when both people are able to hear, see, and communicate in real time. Of course, our office is still accommodating face-to-face witnessing, which entails one brief visit. Video and in-person witnessing is available for wills, enduring power of attorneys, personal directives, and guarantees. Because banks are still open, our legal staff continues to settle estate matters.
Incorporation / business
Corporate Registry and most accounting firms are still open. This means our office is still providing legal services to incorporate your business. If you are an individual living in or near Medicine Hat, then schedule a consultation to begin incorporating your business.
Criminal law / traffic
The Medicine Hat courthouse is mostly closed to the public, and is slowly integrating less “urgent” matters. This applies to both the Provincial Court of Alberta and the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta. Most in-custody criminal matters are still being heard, as well as Emergency and Civil Protection Orders. As of the date listed above, all traffic matters are still adjourned until further notice. If you received a traffic ticket, we recommend you call the courthouse for further information. Otherwise, contact our office for traffic ticket legal advice.
Family law and other litigation
As mentioned, the courthouse is mostly only open to “urgent” matters. The courthouse is gradually opening to less urgent matters. The courts are strongly recommending parties settle their disputes by agreement, alternative dispute resolution, and mediation. The courts are filing and processing consent orders quickly. The court of Queen’s Bench is allowing written arguments for contested disputes. The Queen's Bench is also hearing matters remotely. The Provincial Court of Alberta is allowing people to file new family law applications beginning on June 1, 2020. The Provincial Court plans to hear matters after July 3, 2020. If you would like to settle your family dispute, please contact us today for a quote and potential timeline.
If a Landlord evicts you, a parent absconded with a child, or you are in a situation where there is an immediate threat of harm, then your matter will likely be heard by a court. Also, the fact that all parties consent to a judgment will increase the likelihood of your matter reaching a court-approved resolution. With that said, the collaborative process is still available for those individuals that do not want to wait for the court to reopen. Also, individuals that wish to settle their civil dispute outside of court, may still do so. If this is your case, then please contact our office.
Neither the Alberta government nor the Law Society of Alberta directed lawyers to close their doors. While our office is limiting the amount of people coming into the office, our Medicine Hat lawyers are still providing the following legal services:
Notaries (notary public)
Commissions (commissioner of oaths)
Guarantees under the Guarantees Acknowledgment Act (Alberta)
Independent legal advice for Family Property Agreements
Contractual interpretation and advice
Our office is open to answer any questions regarding COVID-19’s effect on legal services in Medicine Hat. Feel free to reach out to us.