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 of July 13, 2020, Provincial Court registries will be 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 Court is returning to the pre-COVID court process for having urgent matters come before the court.
Please note that the only matters that will be heard in-person are trials, unless otherwise ordered by a judge. Click HERE for the guide to remote proceedings.
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 Notice No. 19 for further scheduling details.
Note: Initial Criminal Appearances in the Fraser, Interior, Northern, and Vancouver Regions, will recommence at all reopened court locations effective June 15, 2020. For the Vancouver Island Region, they will recommence at all reopened court locations effective July 6, 2020. If an individual has a matter scheduled from June 15 to July 3, 2020, they do not need to attend court and their matter will be adjourned as set out in Appendix “A” of the Notice to the Public. For more about Initial Criminal Appearances, click HERE.
Starting July 13th the pre-COVID court process for having urgent matters come before the Court applies. The application for urgent hearing is discontinued. For further details, see NP 19 COVID-19: Commencing Recovery of Some Court Operations. Check the Provincial Court of BC COVID-19 FAQs for updates.
Supreme Court began to run civil and family trials on June 8, 2020. Effective July 13, 2020, in-person registry services will resume 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 will no longer be available. See Notice No. 33 (Criminal) and Notice No. 34 (Civil and Family) for more details. See COVID Notice NO. 32 for information regarding Registrar/Bankruptcy Hearings. Notice No. 40 (Civil and Family) explains how to schedule a trial management conference and what to file.
All Supreme Court civil jury selections are suspended and jury trials are cancelled up to and including January 1, 2021. The Court will resume criminal jury selections and trials on September 8, 2020.
The Court of Appeal has suspended all filing deadlines until August 5, 2020. The Court has also created a webinar to assist people with electronic filing.
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.