Attending Court Remotely

What you need to know about virtual proceedings, hybrid proceedings, remote attendance, and use of electronic devices

The BC Provincial Court conducts proceedings in three different ways:

  • A virtual proceeding is a conference or hearing or other court appearance in which everyone participates remotely using the Microsoft Teams (MS Teams) video platform or telephone.
  • An in-person proceeding is one where everyone is physically present in a courtroom.
  • A hybrid proceeding is one where some participants attend in-person in a courtroom while others attend remotely by telephone or MS Teams.

This page provides links to information, including relevant Practice Directions and Notices, about attending or observing court in a virtual or hybrid proceeding. It also provides information on observing an in-person proceeding remotely. (The Court uses Practice Directions & Notices to issue directions about methods of attending various court proceedings.)

Contents

1. Attending court proceedings remotely
      • Court policies and directions about remote attendance
      • Conduct and etiquette
      • Preparing & conducting a family or small claims conference or hearing by telephone or video
      • Help with Microsoft Teams or telephone appearances
2. Observing remotely
      • Arranging to observe remotely
      • Accredited media
      • Guide for Appearing in the Provincial Court Using Microsoft Teams
      • Conduct and etiquette
      • Rules
3. Information for media
4. Using electronic devices (phones, computers, etc.) in courthouses
      • Prohibited uses
      • Filming or recording for educational purposes
      • Filming or recording for commercial purposes
5. Using electronic devices (phones, computers, etc.) in courtrooms
      • Prohibited uses
      • Note-taking
      • Texting
      • Publication bans
      • When Court is not in session
      • Ceremonies
6. Publishing, broadcasting, or otherwise disseminating court proceedings
7. Publication bans
8. Recording court proceedings
9. Definitions


1. Attending court proceedings remotely

Court policies and directions about remote attendance

     • NP 21 Virtual Proceedings & Remote Attendance in the Provincial Court
     • Guide for Appearing in the Provincial Court Using Microsoft Teams
     • Access to Court Proceedings Policy
     • Policy on Use of Electronic Devices in Courtrooms
     • Bans on Publication

Conduct and etiquette when attending remotely

In many ways, people attending court remotely are expected to behave the same as if they were physically in a courtroom - but there are some differences. Everyone attending remotely, including lawyers, should read NP 21 Virtual Proceedings & Remote Attendance in the Provincial Court for the Chief Judge’s directions about conduct when observing or participating in virtual proceedings, and Raising the bar for lawyers and litigants attending Provincial Court remotely.

Preparing & conducting a family or small claims conference or hearing by telephone or video

     • FAM 11 Default Method of Attendance for Certain Court Appearances
     • What to expect in a family or small claims conference held by telephone or video
     • Preparing for a Family Case Conference: a checklist
     • What to expect in a family or small claims hearing held by telephone or video

Help with Microsoft Teams or telephone appearances

     • Guide for Appearing in the Provincial Court Using Microsoft Teams
     • Resources to help to get ready for virtual court proceedings
     • Webinar on Court’s use of MS Teams
     • Q & A: Virtual hearings and MS Teams in the Provincial Court of BC – answers to questions posed during the webinar


Judges demonstrate what you may see in a BC Provincial Court videoconference or hearing using MS Teams.


2. Observing remotely

Arranging to observe remotely

While conferences held to discuss settling cases are not open to the public, members of the public and media may be able to observe or listen remotely to hearings and trials. Find instructions in the Access to Court Proceedings Policy and read NP 21 Virtual Proceedings & Remote Attendance in the Provincial Court, as well as the Policy on Use of Electronic Devices in Courtrooms.

Accredited media

Accredited media should also review NM 01 Accredited Media Access to Provincial Court Proceedings during COVID-19. Find more information on media access to Provincial Court proceedings, policies, stock photos, and a Media Guide on the Court’s Media webpage.

Guide

Guide for Appearing in the Provincial Court Using Microsoft Teams

Conduct and etiquette

In many ways, people observing court remotely are expected to behave the same as if they were physically in a courtroom - but there are some differences. Everyone observing remotely, including lawyers, should read NP 21 Virtual Proceedings & Remote Attendance in the Provincial Court for the Chief Judge’s directions about conduct when observing or participating in virtual proceedings, and Raising the bar for lawyers and litigants attending Provincial Court remotely.

Rules

Rules for observing remotely are set out in the Court Policies, Notices and Directions


3. Information for media

Find info on media access to Provincial Court proceedings, policies, stock photos, and a Media Guide on our Media page.


4. Using electronic devices (phones, computers, etc.) in courthouses

Prohibited uses
Photographing, videotaping, and filming in court facilities are not permitted unless you have obtained the Chief Judge's approval in advance.

Filming or recording for educational purposes
Requests for filming or visual recording in a courthouse for educational and court -related information purposes may be approved at the discretion of the Chief Judge.

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


5. Using electronic devices (phones, computers, etc.) in courtrooms

Prohibited uses
Electronic devices may not be used to audio- or video-record, photograph, or screenshot any portion of virtual or in-person proceedings (except that accredited media may audio-record for notetaking purposes only as described in the BC Courts’ Policy on Use of Electronic Devices in Courtrooms).

The BC Courts’ Policy on Use of Electronic Devices in Courtrooms sets out penalties for recording, including prosecution, in section 14. See, also, Access to Court Proceedings Policy, sections 5 and 8.

Note-taking
Members of the public and the media are permitted to use computers in Provincial Court solely for the purpose of note-taking, provided that they do not disturb the proceedings or interfere with the operation of the court’s own electronic equipment. See Access to Court Proceedings Policy, sections 7 and 8.

Texting
The use of electronic devices in courtrooms, including virtual courtrooms, to transmit and receive text is prohibited for everyone except accredited media and lawyers. See the Policy on Use of Electronic Devices in Courtrooms, section 5, and Media Accreditation Policy

Publication bans
Publication bans may apply in virtual proceedings. See Publication Bans below.

When Court is not in session
Visual recording or photographing a courtroom when Court is not in session is not permitted without the express permission of the Chief Judge. See Access to Court Proceedings Policy, section 5.

Ceremonies
Family members and friends may take photographs or record video images and/or audio of ceremonies held in courtrooms for their personal use, provided they do so in a way that does not interfere with others’ enjoyment of the ceremony and is consistent with upholding the dignity and decorum of the Court.

Such photographs, video images, and audio recordings may not be posted on social media, nor used for publication or broadcast.

Accredited media wishing to take photographs or record video images and/or audio during ceremonies for publication or broadcast either immediately or at a later date must apply to the Chief Judge for authorization to do so. See Policy on Use of Electronic Devices in Courtrooms, sections 8 to 10.


6. Publishing, broadcasting, or otherwise disseminating court proceedings

No matter how you attend or observe court, the publishing, broadcasting, reproducing, transmitting, making available, or otherwise disseminating of virtual or in-person proceedings or recordings thereof is prohibited, except as authorized by the Court. See Access to Court Proceedings Policy, section 6, which also sets out the penalties for publishing etc., including prosecution. See also Policy on Use of Electronic Devices in Courtrooms, and NP 21 Virtual Proceedings & Remote Attendance in the Provincial Court


7. Publication bans

There may be automatic bans imposed by statutes that operate without any court order. In addition, in certain circumstances the 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 in the Bans on Publication and Access to Court Records Policies. It is your responsibility to ensure you are not violating a publication ban.

Penalties
Penalties for disobeying bans on publication can include fines, probation orders, and jail.

Contact
For information on whether a publication ban has been made in a particular case, contact the Court registry where the case is being heard. Find contact information for BC Court registries at Courthouse Locations. Court staff attempt to flag publication bans imposed in lengthy matters but the obligation remains on the media and members of the public to ensure that they are aware of, and in compliance with, any ban that has been ordered.


8. 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, including a virtual courtroom. See Policy on Use of Electronic Devices in Courtrooms.


9. Definitions

Accredited Media: media personnel who are accredited pursuant to the BC Courts’ Media Accreditation Process.
Courtroom: a room in which a hearing takes place before a judicial officer, and includes virtual or remote court proceedings where one or more participant is attending the proceedings by video- or audio-conference.
Electronic Devices: any device capable of transmitting and/or recording data or audio, including cameras, video recorders, smartphones, cellular phones, computers, laptops, tablets, notebooks, personal digital assistants, or other similar devices.
Virtual proceeding: a conference, hearing, or other court appearance in which everyone participates remotely using the Microsoft Teams (also called “MS Teams” or “Teams”) audio or video platform or telephone.
In-person proceeding: a conference, hearing, or other court appearance where everyone is physically present in a courtroom.
Hybrid proceeding: a conference, hearing, or other court appearance where some participants attend in-person in a courtroom while others attend remotely by telephone or MS Teams.
Remote(ly) – the method of attending or observing a court proceeding by telephone or video-conference instead of attending or observing in person. If you attend either a virtual or an in-person proceeding by telephone or video-conference, you are “attending remotely”.