The BC Provincial Court has developed a reputation as a justice system leader in digital communications. Since 2015 it has expanded its communications initiatives to include social media and news articles posted regularly on its website.
The Court’s website offers an ever-expanding range of resources and information for self-represented litigants, media, lawyers, and the general public. See, for example, the ‘Resources’ pages for Criminal, Family and Small Claims cases.
eNews articles are posted weekly or bi-weekly on the Court’s website. They describe little-known aspects of the Court’s work, activities of judges and judicial justices, Court projects and procedures, and justice system resources. eNews articles have formed the basis of articles in British Columbia, national, online, and even international newspapers.
In 2019 eNews won a Canadian Law Blogs award in the Best Blogs and Commentary, category, with the citation saying, “You might expect communication from a court to be stuffy and dry, but the British Columbia Provincial Court’s eNews blog takes a surprisingly accessible, conversational tone. From justice hackathons to court rules changes, to new publications and judge news, court happenings and opportunities for feedback, we’d love to see more courts across the country take a page from the BCPC’s blogging book.”
The Court uses Twitter to share information and engage with the public. The Court’s Twitter account, @BCProvCourt, uses an informal, conversational tone and shares links to interesting articles, news, and cases, as well as to its own announcements, web pages, and eNews. Its approach has won praise, with followers describing the Court’s “passion for digital outreach” and “flair for blogging and Twitter engagement” and calling it “one of the best uses of Twitter by a public institution”.
The Court also received a 2019 Clawbie in the Best A2J Resources category for the live Twitter Town Hall it held in conjunction with Access to Justice BC. The citation said, “Being able to ask questions of a judge in public, online, and have them answer is “practically unprecedented”—kudos to the BCPC for this remarkable initiative.” In the 2019 event, Chief Judge Gillespie hosted BC Court of Appeal Chief Justice Robert Bauman and Ms. Jennifer Muller, a self-represented litigant. Previously, in 2016, then-Chief Judge Crabtree engaged directly with the public in #AskChiefJudge, Canada’s first court Twitter Town Hall, and he repeated the event in 2017.
The Court has published a visually appealing and readable Media Guide to the Provincial Court and the Rule of Law. Intended as a resource for journalists covering legal issues and proceedings in British Columbia courts, it also provides a useful introduction to the Court and its work for members of the public.
The Court has also designed a workshop for journalists covering BC courts. Offered in the Okanagan Region in 2017 and the Northern Region in 2019, the Media Workshops provided a valuable forum for two-way communication between the Court and members of the media.