In British Columbia, most court cases are heard in Provincial Court. This is a busy court that hears about 50% of all family law cases, all civil lawsuits for claims less than $25,000 (Small Claims Court), most traffic & bylaw matters, most criminal law cases and most cases involving young offenders. About 150 Provincial Court judges work in more than 80 locations throughout the province to hear in excess of 230,000 cases per year.
Cases heard in the Provincial Court fall into four main categories:
The Provincial Court is a statutory court created by the Provincial Court Act It is one of two trial courts in British Columbia, the other being the Supreme Court of British Columbia, which also hears judicial review matters and some appeals from the Provincial Court. There are also appeals or further appeals to the Court of Appeal of British Columbia and the Supreme Court of Canada.
The Provincial Court of British Columbia has existed in one form or another since the early fur trading days. Read more about the court’s history.
If you have a case to be heard in Provincial Court, you should learn how to Prepare for Court. The process your case will follow depends whether you have a Traffic, Small Claims, Family or Criminal case. Be sure to learn more about the process that applies to your situation.
The Provincial Court hears matters under a wide variety of federal and provincial enactments, including those listed below. Under some enactments jurisdiction is shared with the Supreme Court or split between the Provincial Court and the Supreme Court.
- Offence Act
- Youth Justice Act
- Family Law Act
- Child, Family and Community Service Act
- Family Maintenance Enforcement Act
- Adult Guardianship Act
- Motor Vehicle Act
- Passenger Transportation Act
- Commercial Transport Act
- Local Government Act (bylaw offences)
- Small Claims Act
- Liquor Control and Licensing Act
- Environmental Management Act