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Courts & Tribunals

Updated:
May 28, 2020

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:
May 28, 2020

Courts have now indicated that they will be resuming some of their usual activities in the coming weeks. 

For the Supreme Court, see COVID-19: No. 22 (Civil and Family), COVID-19 NOTICE NO. 21 (Criminal Proceedings)  and COVID-19 NOTICE NO. 23 (Civil and Family Trials) for information on the Supreme Court. Civil and family jury trials are cancelled up until September 7, 2020. Starting June 1, 2020, some chambers matters will resume by telephone conference, including Judicial Case Conferences, already scheduled chambers matters, and trial management conferences. All civil and family trials scheduled to begin on or before June 5, 2020 are adjourned and all civil and family trials scheduled to begin on or after June 8, 2020 will resume, unless the Court otherwise directs. Please note that as of May 26, 2020 and until further notice, parties not appearing in person before the Court as a result of measures put in place during the public health emergency are required to e-file their affidavits of service or delivery. See this notice for how to e-file through Court Services Online.

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.The provincial court is mainly dealing with previously scheduled matters and new urgent matters at this time, but check the aforementioned Notice for further details. 

Beginning June 8, 2020, the Provincial Court will begin hearing some in-person hearings in a few courthouses around the province. See their May 26, 2020 announcement for more detail. 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. 

The BC Court of Appeal has continued its suspension of required time periods to commence civil or family proceedings. This means that until further notice you may start an appeal if you wish to do so, but, if you are unable to start an appeal, you can wait without concern. Parties should continue to file and serve notices of appeal or applications for leave to appeal in criminal matters within required time periods. The filing and service deadlines for all existing appeals, existing applications for leave to appeal, and other existing matters before the Court were suspended by direction of the Chief Justice and they will remain suspended until 15 June 2020. For more information, see the Notice to the Public Regarding the Court of Appeal for British Columbia’s Response to COVID-19.

 

Updated:
May 28, 2020

All First Nations/Indigenous Court matters scheduled before May 16, 2020, are adjourned (postponed). You don't have to come to court. See Notice NP19 Appendix B for more information. Moreover, the Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of BC is providing support during court closures. Contact your regional office for further assistance. 

All Indigenous Court matters scheduled from May 19 to July 3, 2020 (and May 11 and 15, 2020 in Duncan) will proceed on the date scheduled, by telephone or video unless the Court notifies you of different arrangements. See Appendix “B” of COVID-19: COMMENCING RECOVERY OF SOME COURT OPERATIONS for adjournment details for matters originally scheduled between March 16 and May 20, 2020.

Further information regarding how the legal system has been impacted can be found at the Aboriginal Legal Aid in BC COVID-19 Updates

 

Updated:
May 29, 2020

If you were to attend trial between March 19 and September 7, 2020 you no longer need to go at that time unless you are specifically told you should attend by the Court after April 16, 2020. The trial may be rescheduled after May 29, 2020 and you will be notified of the new date. See the BC Supreme Court’s Notice to the Public last revised May 14, 2020 for more details.

Updated:
May 28, 2020

At the beginning of the health emergency, the courts suspended regular activities. Recently, they have begun to open up the courts to more and more types of activities. The Provincial Court, Supreme Court, and Court of Appeal allow different levels of activity so it is important to check each court’s website for updates. You can go to bccourts.ca for the most updated information.

Provincial courts are working on expanding the types of matters that can be heard while ensuring that public health is protected. As part of their COVID-19 recovery plan, the provincial courts have begun moving forward by:

  • Beginning some in-person hearings,
  • holding mandatory pre-trial conferences for most adult and youth criminal trials and preliminary inquiries, as well as for family and small claims trials;
  • making telephone sentencing hearings available for some non-urgent out-of-custody matters; and
  • resuming family and small claims case conferences.

 

No new family or small claims filings will be accepted by BC Provincial Court registries unless they are urgent, or are listed in Appendix C of NP 19 COVID-19: Commencing Recovery of Some Court Operations. Check the Provincial Court of BC COVID-19 FAQs for updates.

Supreme Court will begin to run some civil and family trials again on June 8, 2020. See COVID-19 Notice No. 20 and COVID-19 Notice No. 23 dated May 21, 2020 for civil and family matters for more information on what trials will be able to go forward. 

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:
May 29, 2020

Most BC courts have suspended their regular operations. Many matters have been adjourned, but recently courts have begun to increase the types of matters they are hearing. Whether your matter will continue depends on what court you matter is in (e.g. Supreme or Provincial), the type of matter (criminal, civil, or family), and type of hearing (e.g. trial or pre-trial). Check the notices of the relevant court for details about upcoming hearings and adjournments.  

Most recent notice(s) for Provincial: No. 19, May 26, 2020 Update

Most recent notice(s) for Supreme: No. 22, No. 23

Most recent notices(s) for Appeal: May 27, 2020 Update

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

Updated:
May 28, 2020

Effective April 15, 2020 the Minister of Public Safety renewed the order that mandatory limitation periods to commence civil and family matters in Provincial, Supreme, and Court of Appeal be suspended until the state of emergency ends. This suspension is in effect from March 18th 2020 to the date when the state of emergency is lifted. See the order HERE. See the Attorney General’s April 8th update HERE. However, running of filing timelines for the Supreme Court will resume on May 29, 2020. See Covid-19 Notice No. 22 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:
May 28, 2020

It depends on which court your matter is in. 

Provincial Court

The Provincial Court is restarting certain court activities and, as of April 27, 2020, will be accepting more court filings. At this time, the Provincial Court is not accepting new, non-urgent, small claims, family, or criminal filings unless listed in Appendix “C” of the Notice to the Profession and Public. Go to the Provincial Court website for updates. See also the Provincial Court’s new COVID-19 FAQ page. 

Supreme Court

Courthouse registries are no longer providing in-person services during the suspension of the Court’s regular operations. Parties are strongly encouraged to e-file through Court Services Online. However, all courthouses will continue to receive documents for any civil/family matters. Instead, filing can be made by e-filing, fax, mail, or through the new secure drop boxes available at Supreme Court registries. See COVID-19 Notice N0. 23 for more information. See Notice No. 24 for how to e-file through Court Services Online.

Court of Appeal

The BC Court of Appeal has continued its suspension of required time periods to commence civil or family proceedings. This means that until further notice you may start an appeal if you wish to do so, but, if you are unable to start an appeal, you can wait without concern. Parties should continue to file and serve notices of appeal or applications for leave to appeal in criminal matters within required time periods. The filing and service deadlines for all existing appeals, existing applications for leave to appeal, and other existing matters before the Court were suspended by direction of the Chief Justice and they will remain suspended until 15 June 2020. For more information, see the Notice to the Public Regarding the Court of Appeal for British Columbia’s Response to COVID-19.

Updated:
May 29, 2020

See NP 19 COVID-19: Commencing Recovery of Some Court Operations for updates on what types of filings the Provincial Court is currently accepting. Check the Provincial Court of BC COVID-19 FAQs for updates.

If it’s urgent: If you need a family or small claims order urgently you may make an application to have your matter heard. Complete the Urgent Application Form and then send it to your local registry by email, phone or mail to the applicable local court registry; or by fax to fax filing registries (see GEN 01 Practice Direction). If a judge determines your matter is urgent your matter will be heard by telephone and not in person. Go to the Provincial Court website and review the Notice to the Profession and Public for instructions on how to request an urgent hearing. See also the BC Provincial Court’s new COVID-19 FAQ page. 

You can apply to see if your matter is urgent by email, phone or mail to the applicable local court registry or,  by fax to fax filing registries (see GEN 01 Practice Direction). If a judge determines your matter is urgent, a hearing/trial will be scheduled with all participants appearing by telephone. The hearing/trial will not be in person. 

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.

Updated:
May 29, 2020

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). 

Trials: All in custody and out of custody trials and trial continuation scheduled between March 23 and May 16, 2020 will be adjourned unless the accused or the Crown applies to the Judicial Case Manager and arranges to have the trial heard by telephone. 

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

Out of custody appearances: Other than issues determined by a judge to be urgent, all out of custody criminal matters (initial appearances, remands, applications, trials, and sentencings) scheduled between March 18 and May 16, 2020 have been adjourned (postponed). Pre-trial conferences will be scheduled by the Judicial Case Manager.To find out when you need to go to court next review Appendix A of the Provincial Court’s Notice to the Profession and Public.  See also the BC Provincial Court’s new COVID-19 FAQ page. 

VERY IMPORTANT: For some courts, you need to contact the court on the day of your scheduled appearance. For other courts, Appendix A  of the Notice to the Profession and Public will list when your next court date will be. 

Updated:
May 29, 2020

Traffic, ticket or bylaw matters scheduled from March 18 to May 29, 2020 are adjourned and will be rescheduled to a later date. A notice of a new court date will be sent to you by mail to the address on file with the Court. See the BC Provincial Court’s new COVID-19 FAQ page. 

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:
May 29, 2020

The timeline to pay fines related to a BC Provincial Court traffic, ticket or bylaw case is extended to June 30, 2020.

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:
May 29, 2020

All regular court operations are suspended until further notice. The Court will hear urgent and essential matters, but has begun to expand the types of issues that can be heard. Be sure to check HERE for updated information on the BC Supreme Court.

  • Family and Civil Matters: See HERE for more information as to what counts as an urgent family or civil application and how to make one. All civil and family trials scheduled to begin on or before June 5, 2020 are adjourned, unless the Court otherwise directs. All 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.  As of April 20, 2020, the Supreme Court will expand what civil and family matters can be heard by Telephone Conference Hearing. Now, matters that are not considered urgent or essential can be heard as long as they were already scheduled during the suspension period. There are some limitations, so for more information see HERE As of April 27, 2020, the Supreme Court has expanded the types of applications that can be made by written submissions. To qualify, the application should be limited to one disputed issue, and can be addressed by one 10 page or less affidavit from each party. See the COVID-19: Expansion of Civil and Family Matters - Applications by Written Submission for more details.                                                                           
  • Insolvency Matters: See HERE for information on how to request a hearing for an urgent application for insolvency matters.
     
  • Criminal Matters: All criminal matters scheduled for any type of appearance from March 19, 2020 up to and including May 29, 2020 are adjourned. Unless the Court otherwise directs, all criminal trials, voir dires and pre-trial applications, and extradition hearings, scheduled to be heard between June 1 and June 5, 2020, are adjourned to the fix-date list of the court location where the matter was scheduled to be heard, on the dates set out in Appendix A to this Notice. At this point, the Court expects to proceed with criminal trials, voir dires and pre-trial applications, and extradition hearings scheduled to begin on or after June 8, 2020. Urgent matters, including bail hearings will continue to take place but over the phone or video when possible. The next date for a criminal matter depends on the date your matter was originally set and the court location. See COVID Notice No. 18 and COVID Notice No. 21 for more information.

Continue to check the BC Supreme Court website for updates.

Updated:
May 29, 2020

The Court is working to resume some operations. While the Court is taking all steps necessary to resume some court operations, the Court cannot guarantee that matters will proceed as scheduled. Be sure to check HERE for updated information on the BC Supreme Court. Essential and urgent matters will be heard. The Court has made a 2 step process for deciding whether or not it will hear a matter:

  1. The first step is to request a hearing using the Request an Urgent Hearing Form which is online. Once the form is submitted, parties will receive an email with instructions on how to submit materials.  A judge will then decide whether the matter is urgent or essential, and requires a hearing.
  2. If a judge agrees that a hearing is required, the judge will set a date for a phone or video hearing, and the parties will file their materials electronically.  

For Family and Civil Matters: See HERE for more information as to urgent family or civil applications the Court is accepting and how to make one. 

For Criminal Matters: Urgent and essential matters, including bail hearings will continue to take place but over the phone or video when possible. See HERE for more instructions which criminal matters the Court is hearing at this time.


Continue to check the BC Supreme Court website for updates.

Updated:
May 29, 2020

As of May 4, 2020, all appeals, whether urgent or not, will be heard by video conference using the Zoom platform unless the court says otherwise. See the Court of Appeal website for up to date information on closures and modified procedure during the COVID-19 crisis. On May 27, 2020, the Chief Justice of BC issued an updated Notice to the Public Regarding the Court of Appeal for British Columbia’s Response to COVID-19. 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. 

While service and filing deadlines are now suspended until June 15, 2020, the registry is still accepting filings. 

 

Updated:
May 29, 2020

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:
May 29, 2020

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. Section 2 of the order suspends limitation periods and other mandatory deadlines for starting a legal proceeding in court. This does not apply to the CRT and limitation periods and other mandatory time periods continue to apply.

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 need more time to apply or reply, or cannot pay, you should contact the CRT with your dispute number.

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.

Lastly, in the interests of fairness, the CRT has not processed requests for default decisions and orders since March 18, 2020. The CRT will resume processing requests for default decisions and orders beginning June 1, 2020.

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.

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:
May 29, 2020

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

Source:
Updated:
May 29, 2020

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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