Court Innovation

The Provincial Court of BC has been a leader in innovative efforts to respond to communities’ needs and improve its delivery of fair, effective, and efficient justice. During the last four decades the Court has:


• instituted email filing of some documents and speeded up on-going work on efiling
• launched a new approach to family disputes, focusing on earlier resolution, in Surrey and Victoria Family Courts (applying lessons learned from a prototype in Victoria in 2019) and implemented aspects of the new approach around BC in 2021
• introduced mandatory pre-trial conferences for criminal trials to help ensure that only those requiring a trial are set for hearing, and to manage trials and obtain accurate time estimates so trials complete as scheduled
• created new virtual courtrooms for bail hearings and a variety of judge-led conferences, with participants appearing remotely using telephone or the Microsoft Teams platform for audio and video-conferencing
• opened the Court’s 3rd Integrated Court in Kelowna and its 7th and 8th Indigenous Court in Williams Lake and Hazelton
• with other BC Courts, modified the protocol for courtroom introductions to include non-binary titles and pronouns
• collaborated with to produce podcasts of popular eNews articles
• established a temporary two-step process for COVID-related support order variations between July 2, 2020 and May 17, 2021, offering mediation followed by an expedited hearing by telephone or video conference, if necessary
• adopted staggered trial times, different operating hours, and alternate locations for Traffic Court to operate safely during the pandemic. Use of empty schools and university buildings and evening and weekend sittings in courthouses enabled the Court to maintain physical distancing while dealing with large numbers of cases, until regular scheduling could resume. (In addition, the Court is continuing to explore new and innovative ways to use technology for traffic court, including facilitated early resolution and virtual hearings.)


• opened new Indigenous and First Nations Courts in North Vancouver, Kamloops, Duncan, Nicola Valley, and Prince George
• reduced twelve administrative districts to five administrative regions, streamlining administration and permitting more effective use of judicial resources
• transformed the Justice Centre that conducts after-hours bail hearings and considers applications for search warrants
• developed and implemented a new trial scheduling model with a new software application to support simplified “front end” procedures and “delayed assignment” of judges (courtrooms are opened when cases are ready to proceed) - digital displays inform court users of real time court room assignments
• the Court expanded its communications initiatives to include award-winning social media and eNews articles posted regularly on its website, as well as resources for self-represented litigants, a media guide, and media workshops
• became the first Court in Canada to develop and adopt Guidelines for Using a Support Person in Provincial Court


• implemented procedural reforms for some small claims cases in Vancouver and Richmond
• partnered with the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia to create a Judicial Externship Program, providing a unique opportunity for third-year students to spend a term as interns in the Court while obtaining credit towards their law degree
• established specialized courts, beginning with a Drug Treatment Court in Vancouver in 2001, a First Nations Court in New Westminster in 2006, the Downtown Community Court in Vancouver in 2008, and a domestic violence court in Duncan in 2009 (in 2012 expedited case management was applied to domestic violence cases in Kelowna and Penticton, in 2013 a domestic violence court was established in Nanaimo, and in 2016 a front-end domestic violence remand court was established in Surrey)

1980s and ‘90s:

• introduced judicial mediation in civil, family, and child protection cases
• a BC Provincial Court judge pioneered online judicial education in Canada
• BC Provincial Court Judges introduced adult education techniques and social context education (designed to sensitize judges to gender and cultural diversity issues) to Canadian courts