COVID19 - Changes in Court Procedures

The BC Provincial Court is in full operation, conducting all its work either in-person in courtrooms around the province or by telephone and video in virtual courtrooms. However, the Court has made changes to procedures to protect the safety of court users. This page briefly outlines some of those changes, but it is only a summary. For more details see NP 19 COVID-19: Resumption of Court Operations.

See Virtual conferences and hearings (by phone or video) for information and tips on participating in conferences and hearings by telephone or video.

Appearances
You must attend court to deal with your matter unless you have a lawyer to appear for you or file a consent form.

People who will be hiring a lawyer or applying for Legal Aid may reduce the number of times they need to attend court by doing that before their first appearance, when possible.

To reduce the number of people entering courts, lawyers should try to avoid unnecessary attendance at the courthouse by clients or counsel. The Court encourages lawyers to appear on behalf of clients whenever possible and use forms to adjourn matters by consent where nothing substantive will occur at a court appearance.

See Practice Direction CRIM 13 - Initial Appearance Court during COVID-19, Practice Direction FAM 09 Consent Adjournment (FLA_FMEA), Practice Direction: FAM 07 CFCSA Consent Requisitions and Notice NP 19 for details and forms.

Hearings and trials
Self-represented litigants and lawyers should contact witnesses and prepare for their trials to proceed as scheduled.

On the date scheduled for trial, self-represented litigants and lawyers should attend court 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 within a 30 minute distance and be prepared to attend court when called to attend in-person.

For small claims Rule 9.1 Simplified Trials at Richmond and Robson Square, Vancouver courthouses see Notice NP19.

Criminal pre-trial conferences
Some new adult and youth criminal files must have a pre-trial conference before being set for trial or preliminary inquiry. See CRIM 12 Practice Direction: Criminal Pre-Trial Conferences During COVID-19. To schedule a pre-trial conference, contact a Judicial Case Manager at the applicable court location.

Family and small claims conferences
Family case conferences and pre-trial conferences (and in Victoria, family management conferences) and small claims settlement and trial conferences are proceeding by telephone or videoconference on their scheduled dates.

Please contact the applicable court registry for dial-in information or a conference link before your scheduled date.

See Virtual conferences and hearings (by phone or video) information and tips on participating in conferences and hearings by telephone or video.

Traffic matters
The Court has resumed scheduling traffic hearings in some locations around the province. You will receive a new Notice of Hearing with the date, time, and location of the hearing. See Notice NP19 for more information.

Document Filing
Provincial Court registries are accepting all filings, including new applications, either in-person or by mail, email, fax to fax filing registries, 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, parties are encouraged to avoid in-person filing and use these remote filing options wherever possible.

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