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BC Courts & Tribunals

Have a legal issue? Learn more about your rights and options. Understand if your legal issue will be resolved in court or through a government board or tribunal. Discover the steps you need to take to move your legal dispute forward. You can also find resources on settling disputes, without going to a court or tribunal.

Reviewed by:
Nov 4, 2021

Face masks are required in all indoor public spaces in BC. Individuals entering or present in a courthouse will be required to wear a face mask, unless exempted from doing so by the presiding Judicial Officer. The presiding Judicial Officer may also direct other health and safety measures depending on the circumstances of a particular court proceeding. Any concerns on the part of counsel, parties or witnesses regarding the use of face masks in the courtroom should be raised with the Court at the earliest opportunity for consideration by the presiding Judicial Officer.

Please do not visit any courthouse if you exhibit any of the COVID symptoms as described on the BC CDC website.

Reviewed by:
Nov 4, 2021

Supreme Court

If you estimate your matter will take two hours or less, you can apply for a chambers hearing by Microsoft Teams. See Chambers applications during COVID-19 for instructions on how to make a new application or response, or reset an adjourned application.

Visit the BC Supreme Court website for the most up-to-date information.

Provincial Court

Provincial Court registries are now accepting ALL filings at the applicable court registry either in-person or remotely (by mail, email, fax to fax filing registries under GEN 01 Practice Direction, or using Court Services Online where available). To protect the health and safety of all court users and help contain the spread of COVID-19 while maintaining access to the Court, parties are encouraged to use remote filing options wherever possible. See Notice NP19 for more information.

Visit the BC Provincial Court website for the most up-to-date information.

Reviewed by:
Nov 4, 2021

Most courts have returned to their regular operations, but there are enhanced safety measures in place. Be sure to check updated information on the BC Supreme Court.

  • Family, Civil and Insolvency Matters: All non-jury civil and family trials scheduled to begin on or after June 8, 2020 will resume, unless the Court otherwise directs. Contact your registry for more information. All civil jury selections are suspended and jury trials are cancelled up to and including October 7, 2022.
  • Effective June 30, 2020 the Court will resume registrar hearings. Check for more information.
  • Criminal Matters: During the suspension of regular court operations, the Court established a temporary process to manage requests for hearings of essential or urgent criminal matters while registries were not providing in-person services. The Court resumed criminal jury selections and trials on September 8, 2020. See Notice No. 38.

Continue to check the BC Supreme Court website for updates.

Reviewed by:
Nov 4, 2021

For people who are considering suing someone or who have already started a lawsuit, the most common options for settling out of court include:

Civil Resolution Tribunal

For disputes less than $5000, you can settle online using the Civil Resolution Tribunal

  • The online tool provides an opportunity to settle a dispute without going to court. Both parties use the online platform to communicate and work through their issues.

Demand letters

  • A demand letter is a formal letter that demands the other person (or corporation) performs a legal obligation, such as fixing a problem, paying a sum of money, or honoring a contract. The letter describes the agreement between parties and gives the recipient a chance to fix the issue without being taken to court. See a sample demand letter.

Negotiate a settlement

  • Negotiation is when the parties try to come to a resolution by discussing the issues.
  • You can negotiate by sending letters or by having a settlement meeting.
  • One form of negotiation is mediation.


  • Mediation is when a third party helps you and the other person to negotiate and reach agreement. Professional mediators are trained to help resolve legal disputes. Mediators do not take sides and they don’t decide the case. They are neutral.
  • Mediation is especially helpful when both parties have an ongoing relationship with each other. Court cases can damage relationships. Mediation builds understanding between you and the other person.
  • For more about mediation, see the Ministry of Justice’s Guide to Mediation in BC.
  • To find a qualified mediator in BC, use the MediateBC website.


  • Arbitration is a settlement option where you and the other person in dispute select an arbitrator to resolve your dispute. The arbitrator is an impartial person who examines the facts of the dispute. The arbitrator can then decide a dispute much the way a judge would do in a court. Arbitrators may be trained in the law, or have other expertise relevant to the dispute. The ADR of British Columbia provides a directory of arbitrators that you can search.

Collection Agency

  • A collection agency is a business that pursues payments on debts owed to you or your business. Most collection agencies operate as agents and collect debts for a fee or percentage of the total amount owed from you. The main advantage of hiring a collection agency is that it becomes their job to reach the other person and obtain the money they owe you.
Reviewed by:
Nov 5, 2021

Negotiations work best when everyone comes to the table with a willingness to work towards a solution.

Start the negotiations off by expressing what your mutual goals are at the meeting and that you appreciate the other person’s willingness to attend. You want to create a safe environment where you can openly talk about the situation.

Ask for and listen to their point of view. Make eye contact and be respectful. Be aware of your body language. Show you are truly being receptive to what they are saying by nodding. Don’t sit there with your arms crossed and rolling your eyes. If you do not understand something they say, politely ask for them to explain further.

Once everyone has had an opportunity to explain their point of view, it’s time to suggest solutions. It might be helpful to break down the issues and address the easiest first. This way, you can build up some confidence and trust. Be reasonable with what you suggest. If they suggest something, use that as a starting point and branch out from there rather than dismissing it. If challenges arise, identify them, and see if you can come up with a solution.

Take time to reflect afterwards on what worked and what didn’t. If you want more tips for negotiating, read this two-page negotiation guide.

Reviewed by:
Nov 4, 2021

A demand letter is a formal letter that demands the other person (or corporation) performs a legal obligation, such as fixing a problem, paying a sum of money, or honoring a contract. The letter describes the agreement between parties and gives the recipient a chance to fix the issue without being taken to court.

Anyone can write and send a demand letter. It does not need to be from a lawyer or other professional. A demand letter is not legally required to start a lawsuit, but it is often a good idea because if the recipient agrees with the demand, everyone avoids the stress of going to court.

What to include in a Demand Letter:

  • Date and the recipient's contact information
  • Legal phrase WITHOUT PREJUDICE to protect you from the contents of the letter being used against you later in court
  • Summary of the agreement and the problem or issue
  • Demand for a specific relief or payment
  • Deadline stating when the matter must be settled
  • A reasonable amount of time to comply
  • That you intend to start a lawsuit if no action is taken
  • Sender's contact information and signature
  • Fair and specified terms

You can find a sample template and a sample Demand Letter on the SmallClaimsBC website.

Reviewed by:
Nov 4, 2021

As of July 2020, traffic court matters have been proceeding. Parties are sent a new notice of hearing that will include the date, time and location (including the address) of the hearing. Start times will be staggered so that all participants are not at the hearing location at the same time. Parties who receive a notice of hearing and require interpreter services for their hearing must contact the Violation Ticket Center at 1-877-661-8026 prior to their hearing date. Effective July 1, 2021, all people attending courthouses in BC are required to wear masks.

For violation tickets issued under the Motor Vehicle Act or Motor Vehicle Act Regulations, if the Disputant wishes to appear remotely by telephone at their traffic ticket hearing, they may ask the Court for permission by completing and submitting a Request to Appear by Telephone or Videoconference Form (PTR 824) to the Violation Ticket Centre. Please note that remote appearances by the Disputant by MS Teams videoconference are only available for hearings scheduled at specifically designated court locations and sittings at this time.

See Notice No. 19 for additional information relating to traffic and bylaw matters.

To dispute a violation ticket, you can download a form and mail it in to:

Ticket Dispute Processing

Bag 3510

Victoria, B.C. V8W 3P7

Reviewed by:
Nov 4, 2021

Emergency powers make it easier and quicker for governments to enact and enforce certain laws to help them address the emergency. The BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) made a fact sheet to help you understand What is an Emergency Order?, including what laws governments have used to try to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and what the risks are if the government went too far. See also the BCCLA’s fact sheet on Policing the Pandemic to learn more about how emergency orders can be enforced during the emergency.

Please note that the COVID-19 provincial state of emergency declared under the Emergency Program Act ended at 11:59 pm on June 30, 2021. Although most restrictions have been lifted as part of phase 3 of the BC Restart Plan, there are some limitations that will remain in place until BC enters the final stage of the Restart Plan.

Be aware that travel into Canada continues to have restrictions with severe penalties and consequences if you do not follow the orders. If you enter Canada from abroad, you may be required to isolate or quarantine. (The federal government website explains the difference.) You can be fined or jailed for failing to follow this order.

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