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Courts & Tribunals

Updated:
July 13, 2021

Effective July 1, 2021, face masks or face coverings are optional for those attending courthouses in British Columbia. However, individuals entering or present in a courtroom will be required to wear a mask or face covering, unless exempted from doing so by the presiding judge, master or registrar. The presiding judge, master, or registrar may also direct other health and safety measures depending on the circumstances of a particular court proceeding. See Notice No. 27 for more information.

Please do not visit any courthouse if you exhibit any of the COVID-19 symptoms as described on the BC CDC website.

Source:
Updated:
July 13, 2021

Because of COVID-19, most Provincial Court proceedings continue to be handled remotely. A remote proceeding means your hearing or case conference matter may be conducted by: 

  • a phone call from the court 
  • a conference call through Telus 
  • an audioconference or videoconference through Microsoft Teams

If you’re not sure how your matter will proceed, contact your court registry.

The Provincial Court of BC has provided a Guide to Remote Proceedings, Virtual Hearing Q&As and additional articles to help individuals prepare for virtual hearings and conferences. See the Virtual Conference and Hearing page. You may also wish to consult the Provincial Court’s Guide to Virtual Proceedings.

The Supreme Court of BC has provided an explanation of Remote Video Conference Hearings in  Notice No. 35.  

Note on Court of Appeal: Effective November 9, 2020, and until further notice, all appeal hearings will be heard via Zoom unless otherwise directed. Parties must continue to follow all other directions set out in the various Public Notices of the Court of Appeal. Please complete the Court Proceedings Form at least seven days before the hearing date with an indication of videoconference as the preferred mode of hearing until further notice. Parties who have already scheduled an in person hearing will be contacted by the registry. To learn more about the complete COVID-19 Appeal process, see the Notice Regarding Modified Court of Appeal Procedures due to COVID-19 and this Appeal Process flowchart

See Legal Aid BC’s remote proceeding tips to help you as you prepare to attend a remote court proceeding.

Updated:
July 13, 2021

The Courts have put in place a number of cleaning, health screening, and physical distancing protocols. See Notice 22 for Provincial Court protocols, Notice 27 for BC Supreme Court protocols, and COVID-19 Court Recovery Operations for details.  Effective July 1, 2021, all people attending courthouses in BC are required to wear masks while inside a courtroom. Face masks and face coverings are optional in other areas of BC courthouses. Please do not visit any courthouse if you exhibit any of the COVID-19 symptoms as described on the BC CDC website.

Additionally, on January 21, 2021, the BC Courts released a new protocol to ensure timely and coordinated communication regarding COVID-19 testing and exposures in courthouses. See the protocol HERE.

Note: Counsel and self represented parties must also be in a position to confirm that to their knowledge, no one involved on their side traveled outside Canada within 14 days of their anticipated in-person appearance in a courtroom.

Updated:
July 13, 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.

Updated:
July 13, 2021

Litigants and lawyers should be in contact with witnesses and prepare for their trials to proceed as scheduled. Reach out to your litigator if you have not been contacted.

Lawyers and self-represented litigants should attend court on the date scheduled at 9:00 AM to advise if they are ready to proceed. After hearing from them, the Court will decide whether to grant any adjournments sought and decide which trials will proceed. All witnesses and any parties represented by lawyers are to wait outside the courthouse and be within a 30 minute distance and be prepared to attend and testify in court. Effective November 25, 2020, all people attending courthouses in BC are required to wear masks while inside a courthouse. You must also be able to confirm that you have not traveled outside Canada within 14 days of your anticipated in-person appearance in a courtroom. For further information, see the Notice to the Profession and Public.

Updated:
July 13, 2021

You can now get free help from volunteer paralegals who can help you fill out court forms. Request a virtual appointment at www.legalformsbc.ca

Updated:
July 13, 2021

Courts have resumed their usual activities, either in-person or virtually. Courts are following strict health and safety protocols to ensure that the courts remain safe for everyone. Counsel and self represented parties must also be in a position to confirm that to their knowledge, no one involved on their side traveled outside Canada within 14 days of their anticipated in-person appearance in a courtroom. Effective July 1, 2021, all people attending courthouses in BC are required to wear masks while inside a courtroom. Face masks and face coverings are optional in other areas of BC courthouses. Please do not visit any courthouse if you exhibit any of the COVID-19 symptoms as described on the BC CDC website.

Additionally, new filings are being accepted by all levels of court in BC.

Supreme Court

See HERE for a full index of Supreme Court notices. See In Court Measures During the Pandemic for health protocols and guidance.

In-person registry services have resumed at all Supreme Court registries in British Columbia, and the interim process that the Court established for requesting a hearing of an urgent or essential matter is no longer available. While in-person filing is available, parties are strongly encouraged to use e-filing, or one of the other methods. See Notice No. 33 (Criminal) and Notice No. 34 (Civil and Family) for more details.

Civil jury trials are cancelled up to and including October 7, 2022. The new rules provide that trials scheduled to be heard before October 8, 2022 will automatically proceed by judge alone, regardless of whether a party filed or served a notice requiring trial by jury or paid jury fees. See Notice No. 41 for more information.

See HERE for information regarding how to book a judicial management conference or trial management conference. Both are currently being held by telephone.

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

Applications in Masters chambers at the court registry locations listed in Appendix B of Notice No. 42 will be heard by video using Teams as of the date listed. Additional court registry locations will be added as they become available; until then, Masters chambers hearings at other court registry locations and judges chambers will continue by telephone. Parties are encouraged to check the Court’s website often to confirm whether specific court registry locations are proceeding using video or telephone.

Note on TMCs: Effective July 27, 2020, parties must file and serve trial briefs, trial records and trial certificates in accordance with the Supreme Court Civil Rules and the Supreme Court Family Rules. The Court’s direction that TMCs proceed by telephone unless the Court otherwise orders continues to apply. To learn more, book a TMC, or rebook a trial, see COVID-19 Notice No. 40.

BC Provincial Court 

For information on the BC Provincial Court, or to determine when your trial, hearing or matter will be heard, see the Notice to the Profession and Public Covid-19: Commencing Recovery of Some Court Operations NP19. For a summary of updates, see Provincial Court during COVID-19.

Provincial Court registries are 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. 

The Provincial Court has created guidelines to help support people with their small claims proceedings. See SM. CL. 02 Small Claims Proceedings During COVID-19.

NOTE: Only trials will be held in-person. Counsel and self represented parties must also be in a position to confirm that to their knowledge, no one involved on their side traveled outside Canada within 14 days of their anticipated in-person appearance in a courtroom. All other matters will be heard by phone or video conference, unless otherwise ordered by a judge. Click HERE for the guide to remote proceedings. 

In person hearings will be reserved for priority matters that cannot be dealt with remotely. However, the public is still strongly discouraged from attending court in person. Hearings and other proceedings will take place by video or audio conference unless otherwise directed. 

All trials scheduled in Provincial Court after July 3, 2020 will remain on the trial list and parties should attend court at 9am on the day their trial is scheduled. The Court will then decide which trials will proceed. Other non-trial appearances scheduled for after July 3, 2020, will proceed on the date scheduled, either in court or by phone. See the Court’s latest Notice to the Public for more details. 

Court of Appeal

See the Court of Appeal website for up to date information on closures and modified procedures during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Beginning July 12, 2021, appeal hearings and chambers proceedings will take place in person in the courtroom, unless parties apply or elect to appear remotely. See the Notice Regarding Modified Court of Appeal Procedures and Access to Court Proceedings during the COVID-19 Pandemic. To learn more about the complete COVID-19 Appeal process, see the Notice Regarding Modified Court of Appeal Procedures due to COVID-19 and this Appeal Process flowchart

The BC Court of Appeal’s suspension of required time periods to start civil or family proceedings ended on March 25, 2021. Service and filing deadlines were suspended until September 14, 2020. All filings must now be submitted by their respective deadlines. The Court of Appeal has also created a webinar to assist people with electronic filing.

Updated:
July 13, 2021

All First Nations/Indigenous Courts matters will remain on the date scheduled unless otherwise notified by the court. The court will be hearing these matters in-person, by audioconference or videoconference. See COVID-19: Notice to the Profession and Public for more information. 

The Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of BC is providing support during court closures. Contact your regional office for further assistance. 

 

 

Updated:
July 13, 2021

The Supreme Court has resumed criminal jury selections and trials on September 8, 2020 as explained in Notice No. 38. Masks are required in all BC courtrooms, and please do not visit any courthouse if you exhibit any of the COVID-19 symptoms as described on the BC CDC website. You must also be able to confirm that you have not traveled outside Canada within 14 days of your anticipated in-person appearance in a courtroom.

All civil jury selections are suspended and jury trials are cancelled up to and including October 7, 2022, everywhere in the province. See BC Government update for more details. 

 

Updated:
July 13, 2021

Most BC courts have returned to their regular operations, but there are enhanced safety measures in place. The majority of hearings are taking place virtually on the date scheduled. Check the notices of the relevant court for details about upcoming hearings and adjournments.  

Most recent notice for Provincial: NOTICE TO THE PROFESSION AND PUBLIC COURT OPERATIONS DURING COVID-19

Most recent notice for Supreme: Index of Supreme Court COVID-19 Notices

Most recent notice for Appeal: Notice Regarding Modified Court of Appeal Procedures and Access to Court Proceedings during the COVID-19 Pandemic

In a child protection case all statutorily mandated matters, including the initial presentation hearing and the protection hearing, are urgent hearings and will proceed on the day they are scheduled by telephone.

You can go to bccourts.ca for the most updated information.

If you are still unsure whether your matter will proceed, please contact your respective courthouse, litigator or case manager.

Updated:
July 13, 2021

Mandatory limitation periods to commence civil and family matters in Provincial, Supreme, and Court of Appeal were suspended until March 25, 2021. As of March 26, parties must file and serve notices of appeal or applications for leave to appeal within required time periods. See the COVID-19 Notice to the public for more information.

Note: this DOES NOT apply to the Civil Resolution Tribunal, but may apply to other administrative tribunals. See the specific tribunal website to see if they have made any changes to limitation periods. To find the website see this directory of administrative tribunals. 

This DOES NOT apply to apply to mandatory limitation periods or other mandatory time periods under the Builders Lien Act.

For more information on the Attorney General’s response to COVID-19, including a list of emergency orders, changes to the law, and changes to justice services go HERE.

Updated:
July 13, 2021

What happens to your criminal case depends on what type of appearance you have and when it was scheduled. Review the Provincial Court’s Notice to the Profession and Public for more details. If you do not have a lawyer, you can still apply for legal aid. It is strongly advised that you get a lawyer if you can. Please call your local Legal Aid office or call 1-866-577-2525(BC wide) or 604-408-2172 (Greater Vancouver).  If you are in Northern BC, take note of the Northern Bail Pilot Project CRIM 14.

Initial Appearances: Depending on the matter, you may be required to appear in-person. However, the Court has suggested alternatives to in-person appearances. See HERE for more information on initial appearances.

Pre-trial Conferences: All files as set out in the “Application” section of the CRIM 12 Notice must have a pre-trial conference before being scheduled for a trial or preliminary inquiry. Where the accused has more than one criminal file with at least one file as described above, their other file(s) may be included in the pre-trial conference for resolution discussions. Counsel should provide these additional file numbers to the Judicial Case Manager when scheduling the pre-trial conference. See HERE for more information.

Trials: In-custody and out-of-custody trials and trial continuations will remain on the trial list on the date scheduled. Counsel and self-represented litigants are to attend Court in-person on the date scheduled at 9:00 AM to advise if they are ready to proceed that day. Witnesses and parties represented by counsel are to wait outside the courthouse (within a 30 minute distance) and be prepared to be called to attend court in-person. The Court will determine which trials will proceed. See the Notice to the Profession and Public for more information.

Sentencing and Bail: In-custody sentencings and bail hearings will continue to happen by telephone or video, unless a successful application is made by one of the parties.  

Out of custody appearances:

For out of custody matters where the accused (out of custody) and counsel agree to appear by audioconference or videoconference, and the prosecutor and defence counsel have agreed to seek a sentence that does not involve any incarceration but may factor in time already spent in custody and include a one day jail sentence where the accused is not taken into custody or a conditional sentence order, in order to schedule these dispositions, defence counsel must: 

  • Complete the “Request for Resolution of Matters” Form; 
  • File the completed Form to the applicable local court registry; and 
  • Provide a means by which the accused will receive a printed copy of any court order(s). For example, this could be an email, fax or mailing address for the accused or their counsel. 

A Judicial Case Manager will contact counsel to schedule the hearing by audioconference or videoconference before a judge. See the Notice to the Profession and Public for more information.

VERY IMPORTANT: For some courts, you need to contact the court on the day of your scheduled appearance. 

Updated:
April 28, 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 while inside a courtroom. 

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

Updated:
July 13, 2021

You must pay your fine by the deadline given.

For information on how to pay a traffic or bylaw ticket online or by phone see here

To pay parking tickets see the information on the back of your ticket.

Updated:
July 13, 2021

Most courts have returned to their regular operations, but there are enhanced safety measures in place. Be sure to check HERE for 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. For more information, click HERE.

  • 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.

Updated:
July 13, 2021

See the Court of Appeal website for up to date information on closures and modified procedure during the COVID-19 crisis. Check the Notice to the Public Regarding the Court of Appeal for British Columbia’s Response to COVID-19 for updates. On May 14, 2020, the Court published a Notice to the Public Regarding Video Conference Proceedings in the Court of Appeal which explains how you can observe Court of Appeal hearings if you wish. Please review for updated information on the Court of Appeal’s operations. 

Beginning July 12, 2021, appeal hearings and chambers proceedings will take place in person in the courtroom, unless parties apply or elect to appear remotely. See the Notice Regarding Modified Court of Appeal Procedures and Access to Court Proceedings during the COVID-19 Pandemic. To learn more about the complete COVID-19 Appeal process, see the Notice Regarding Modified Court of Appeal Procedures due to COVID-19 and this Appeal Process flowchart. See the Notice Regarding Modified Filing Directions in Civil and Criminal Appeals for information on filing.

The BC Court of Appeal’s suspension of required time periods to start civil or family proceedings ended on March 25, 2021. Service and filing deadlines were suspended until September 14, 2020. All filings must now be submitted by their respective deadlines.. The Court of Appeal has also created a webinar to assist people with electronic filing.

Updated:
July 13, 2021

YES. You can still apply to the Civil Resolution Tribunal. The CRT expects to function mostly as usual at this time given that most of their operations are online already. 

Things are always changing so be sure to check the CRT website for updates.  If you have questions contact the CRT by phone 1-844-322-2292 or by filing in this form.

Updated:
July 13, 2021

NO. Limitation periods for the CRT are still in place. The order of the Minister of Public Safety says that administrative tribunals can decide for themselves whether or not to suspend their mandatory limitation periods during the state of emergency. 

The CRT has so far said that they expect to operate normally and will not be suspending their limitation periods during the state of emergency given that most of their work is already online. They do, however,  have discretion to extend time periods on a case-by-case basis.

The CRT will also consider waiving fees for people who cannot afford CRT fees due to COVID-19. If you file your application for dispute resolution late because of the pandemic, explain this in your application. If you are a party to a CRT dispute and you need an extension of time or cannot pay, due to COVID-19, just contact them with your Dispute Number and the reason for your request.

See HERE for more details on the CRT’s position on limitation periods.
See HERE for the Attorney General’s press release regarding CRT deadlines and fees.

Things are always changing so be sure to check the CRT website and the CRT COVID-19 Response for updates.  If you have questions contact the CRT by phone 1-844-322-2292 or by filing in this form.

For more information on the Attorney General’s response to COVID-19, including a list of emergency orders, changes to the law, and changes to justice services go HERE

Updated:
July 13, 2021

Each tribunal (such as the Residential Tenancy Branch, the Employment Standards Branch, and Immigration and Refugee Board)  will have to decide whether it can continue normal operations or not. You must check the tribunal’s website for information on how and if the tribunal’s operations will continue during the crisis.

Note that while limitation periods are suspended for courts,  tribunals get to decide whether they will suspend their own limitation periods. Therefore it is important to go straight to the particular tribunal for information. To find a tribunal website see this directory of administrative tribunals.

For more information on the Attorney General’s response to COVID-19, including a list of emergency orders, changes to the law, and changes to justice services go HERE

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Updated:
July 13, 2021

MediateBC has a new Quarantine Conflict Resolution Service to help people in isolation deal with matters arising out of the COVID-19 crisis. Registered mediators are providing mediation over phone, email, or online platforms, at significantly discounted rates. Go to MediateBC to sign up.

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