Answers to Common Questions

Here is some general information about the Provincial Court and the BC justice system. Comments are provided for information only and cannot be used as legal advice or authority in court or other legal proceedings.

  1. Adoption - The Provincial Court does not have the authority to deal with divorce, adoption or the division of family assets. The Supreme Court of British Columbia deals with these types of cases.
  2. Appeal a Decision - The Chief Judge has no power to change the outcome of a ruling or decision, order a new trial, declare a mistrial, or overturn a decision. These are all remedies that are only available through an appeal or judicial review.
  3. Applying to be a Judge - For information see Appointment of Judges.
  4. Complaint About a Judge or Justice - For information on how to make a complaint about a judge, judicial justice, judicial case manager or justice of the peace carrying out work as a judicial officer please see Complaints and Appeals. The Chief Judge has no power to change the outcome of a ruling or decision, order a new trial, declare a mistrial, or overturn a decision. These are all remedies that are only available through an appeal or judicial review.
  5. Complaints about Someone Other than a Provincial Court Judge or Justice

    The Office of the Chief Judge of the Provincial Court does not have the authority to examine the conduct of defence lawyers, crown counsel/prosecutors, police officers or a judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

  6. Contacting a Judge or Judicial Justice - Judges and judicial justices make decisions based only on information presented in open court. Therefore people involved in court proceedings (including parties, lawyers and witnesses) are not permitted to contact, speak with or correspond privately with judges about an ongoing court matter or any decision the judge has made. This ensures that a judge only receives information about a case in open court and that everyone can rely on the finality of the decision.

    If you are a party to a court matter and wish to file material or go before a judge, you should contact the specific Court registry where the matter is being heard. Contact information for Court registries is available on our website here. Court registries’ mailing addresses are found here.

    If you disagree with the outcome of a decision, you may wish to consider an appeal or judicial review. The Chief Judge has no power to change the outcome of a ruling or decision, order a new trial, declare a mistrial, or overturn a decision.

  7. Court Hours and Locations – The hours of operation of courtrooms in Provincial Courthouses and their locations are available here. Find Court registry hours and locations here.
  8. Court Procedure - If you want information about court procedure, talk to a lawyer or get legal advice, contact the Court registry near you, or check the Ministry of the Attorney General’s website.
  9. Court Records, Documents and Files - Records of court proceedings in BC are maintained by the Court Services Branch of the BC Ministry of the Attorney General. For information on how to access court records please see the Access to Court Records policy. If you would like information about a particular court matter, check Court Services Online.

    You can also contact the specific Court registry where the matter was heard. A list of registries across the Province is available here. The Office of the Chief Judge does not act as a registry for the Court, and does not process requests to access court records.

  10. Court Reports - The Court issues “Time to Trial” reports, Annual Reports and “Provincial Court Judge Complement” reports on our website here. The Office of the Chief Judge often directs people seeking information about the Provincial Court to this page of the website. You will find a wealth of information in these reports.
  11. Court Services Online - Court Services Online (CSO) is an electronic service of the Ministry of Attorney General which provides online access to some court record information from the Provincial Court and Supreme Court. If you would like to get information about a particular court matter you may want to look at CSO. You can also contact the specific Court registry where the matter was heard. A list of registries across the Province is available here. The Office of the Chief Judge does not act as a registry for the Court, and does not process requests to access court records.
  12. Courtroom or Court Facilities - Request to Use - Requests to use a courtroom or interior of a courthouse to film a commercial “for profit” production will not be approved. Please send any other requests to use a courtroom to the Office of the Chief Judge email address at least eight weeks before the planned event, and include as many details as possible that you feel would be helpful to assess your request.
  13. Decisions / Judgments – Decisions of Provincial Court judges and judicial justices are available here. Written decisions are also available on the court file at the Court registry where the matter was heard. A list of registries across the Province is available here.

    Not all decisions are published. In some cases either legislation may require, or a judge may order, that a judgment not be published. There is more information about this is in our Bans on Publication and Access to Court Records policies.

    In other cases a judge may give an oral (spoken) decision rather than a written decision. Members of the public are welcome to attend Court to watch a judge give an oral decision, and it is possible to order a transcript of an oral decision, although there will be a cost (See “Transcript of Court Proceedings” below). Please see the Access to Court Proceedings policy and FAQ “Can I go to court to watch what goes on?” for more information about watching court.

  14. Divorce - The Provincial Court does not have the authority to deal with divorce, adoption or the division of family assets. The Supreme Court of British Columbia deals with these types of cases.
  15. Employment - For information about becoming a judge see Appointment of Judges. For information about other employment opportunities with the Provincial Court see “BC Public Service Agency Job Opportunities”. The Provincial Court does not have a summer student, co-op, or practicum placement program.
  16. Fees - Information about fees for Small Claims Court is available here.
  17. Forms - Forms for different types of cases are available on the BC Ministry of the Attorney General website:

    You can file court forms and documents at a Court registry. A list of registries across the Province is available here. Some court documents can be filed electronically through Court Services Online. There is also a Practice Direction about fax filing registries for family and small claims matters. The Office of the Chief Judge does not act as a registry for the Court and does not process forms, but rather will return forms intended for a registry to the sender.

  18. Going to Court – Judges and judicial justices know that people going to court without a lawyer (sometimes called “self-represented litigants”) face challenges. The Office of the Chief Judge cannot provide you with legal advice, comment on specific cases before the courts nor advise on individual situations. However, our website offers links to a lot of information and resources that may be helpful. See Going to Court, Preparing for Court, Resources for Family Cases, Resources for Criminal Cases, Resources for Small Claims Cases and Resources for Traffic and Bylaw Cases.
  19. Information about a Case - If you would like to get information about a particular court matter you may want to look at Court Services Online. You can also contact the specific Court registry where the matter was heard. A list of registries across the Province is available here. The Office of the Chief Judge does not act as a Court registry, and will return information intended for a registry to the sender. See the Court’s Access to Court Records Policy for information on documents available to the public. See also “Scheduling Trials and Hearings” on this page.
  20. Judicial Review - The Chief Judge has no power to change the outcome of a ruling or decision, order a new trial, declare a mistrial, or overturn a decision. These are all remedies that are only available through an appeal or judicial review.

    If you have a judicial review before the Supreme Court and you need to serve a judge or judicial justice you can do so by sending the petition and all supporting affidavits by courier or registered mail to the Office of the Chief Judge (attention: Legal Officer).

  21. Law Day / Mock Trials - Law Day, or Law Week in some areas, is an annual event held in April. In BC this event includes a number of activities designed to inform the public about our law and justice system: courthouse open houses, question and answer events, displays, and mock trials where students at various levels enact a trial.

    In order to hold a mock trial in a courthouse, the Chief Judge and/or Chief Justice of any court that uses the courthouse (Provincial Court, Supreme Court, and for Vancouver, Victoria and Kamloops, the Court of Appeal) must approve the courthouse being used for a mock trial. If a request is approved:

    • only photographs of the mock trial or mock trial participants (with their consent) are permitted;
    • video is not permitted;
    • any request generally and any request to take photographs specifically are subject to the direction of the Sheriffs, and
    • the mock trial must uphold the dignity and decorum of the Court.

    Send your request for permission to hold a mock trial in a courthouse where the Provincial Court sits to the Office of the Chief Judge email address identifying the date(s) you are seeking the use of a courtroom, your agreement to the above conditions, and any other information you feel would be helpful to assess your request.

  22. Law Interns - There is a law intern program at the Court for third year students at the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia. Applications for the program occur through that law school, not through the Office of the Chief Judge.
  23. Legal Advice - Links to organizations within British Columbia that provide legal assistance are available on our website under “Finding a Lawyer or Legal Advice”. The Office of the Chief Judge cannot provide legal advice, comment on specific cases before the courts nor advise on individual situations.
  24. Media Inquiries - Please see our Media webpage, which includes our Media Guide. Inquiries respecting Court information are often directed to the Court Reports page of our website which has “Time To Trial” reports, Annual Reports and “Provincial Court Judge Complement” reports. You’ll find a wealth of information in these reports.

    Inquiries asking a judge or the Court to comment on a decision will be declined as a judge speaks once through his or her decision and it would be inappropriate for a judge or the Court to subsequently comment on a decision. To do so would interfere with the ability of parties to rely on the finality of the decision.

  25. Photographs or Filming in Court - Cameras and other electronic devices are not allowed in a courtroom to take photographs or video images. See the BC Courts’ policy on Use of Electronic Devices in Courtrooms. For requests to televise court proceedings or take photographs in a courthouse see the Court’s Access to Court Proceedings policy.

    Commercial or “for profit” requests to film or photograph the interior of a courthouse for a production will not be approved.

  26. Publication Bans – The Canadian Criminal Code and other laws sometimes require judges to make orders banning the publication of information, evidence, submissions and/or reasons. In other cases a judge may order a publication ban if a party requests one. Find more information about this in our Media Guide and Bans on Publication and Access to Court Records policies.

    Our law also provides penalties for disobeying bans on publication which can include a fine, conditional discharge, probation order and potentially even jail.

    For information on whether a publication ban has been made in a particular case, contact the Court registry where the case is being heard. A list of registries across the Province is available here.

  27. Recording Court Proceedings - Members of the public may not use cameras or other audio or video recording devices, and may not transmit or receive text on an electronic device, in a courtroom.

    Lawyers and accredited journalists are permitted to use electronic devices to receive and transmit text in accordance with the policy on Use of Electronic Devices in Courtrooms. Accredited journalists are also permitted to use electronic devices to audio record a proceeding for the sole purpose of verifying their notes, but not for broadcast or any other purpose.

  28. Registry – The office areas in courthouses where records are kept, documents are filed, and fines are paid are called ‘Court Registries”. A list of Provincial Court Registries in BC is available here. The Office of the Chief Judge does not act as a registry for the Court, and will return information intended for a registry to the sender.
  29. Reporting a Crime – If you have concerns for your safety or the safety of others you can report it to your local police department or if it is an emergency to 911.
  30. Representing Yourself in Court - People going to court without a lawyer are sometimes called “self-represented litigants or SRLs”. There is information about representing yourself in Court if you don’t have a lawyer on our Going to Court, Preparing for Court, Resources for Family Cases, Resources for Criminal Cases, Resources for Small Claims Cases and Resources for Traffic and Bylaw Cases pages.
  31. Scheduling Trials or Hearings - Judicial case managers (JCMs) are responsible for scheduling trials and hearings. You can contact a JCM through the Court registry where the matter is being heard. The BC Provincial Court Locations and Hours page contains contact information for JCMs. The Office of the Chief Judge does not provide information or process requests about scheduling trials or hearings.

    There is more information about scheduling on our Provincial Court Scheduling page, in our Practice Direction Scheduling Conflicts Between Provincial Court and the Supreme Court and on our FAQ page under “How Trial Scheduling Works”.

  32. Supreme Court of British Columbia - The Provincial Court and the Supreme Court of British Columbia are two separate courts. If we receive a letter about the Supreme Court we either return it to the sender with information about contacting the Supreme Court or forward the letter to the Supreme Court. You will find contact information for the Supreme Court of BC on their website www.courts.gov.bc.ca.
  33. Transcript of Court Proceedings – Find information on how to order a transcript of court proceedings here. You can also contact the Court registry where the matter was heard to get contact information for the company or person who prepares transcripts for that registry. To order a transcript you will need to know the court location, date and file number. A list of court registries in the Province is available here. You can ask the company or person who prepares transcripts about the cost. Transcripts cannot be ordered through the Office of the Chief Judge.
  34. Trials or Hearings - See “Scheduling Trials or Hearings" and "Information about a Case" on this page.
  35. Unsealing Your Criminal Record - If your criminal record was sealed when you received a pardon or record suspension you may need the details of it to apply for a Waiver to enter the United States. Find information on how to get your criminal record unsealed here.
  36. Visiting Court - The Justice Education Society of BC’s Justice System Education Program offers court watching, court orientations, mock trials, and sessions with a judge or lawyer in many BC communities. You can contact that program to book a court visit for a class or group. See too our FAQ on “Can I go to court to watch what goes on?
  37. Watching Court Proceedings - Please see our FAQ on “Can I go to court to watch what goes on?”. You can find out what will be heard by looking at the Daily Court Lists for Small Claims matters or Criminal matters on Court Services Online.
  38. Wills and Estates - The Provincial Court does not have the authority to deal with wills and estates. The Supreme Court of British Columbia deals with these types of cases.