Key Changes to Small Claims Rules on October 3, 2022

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For the last two years the BC Provincial Court has been working collaboratively with the provincial government on changes to the rules governing procedure in small claims cases. On August 16, 2021, changes to the Small Claims Rules laid the groundwork for people to attend small claims proceedings remotely, either by telephone or video-conference.

New changes taking effect on October 3, 2022 further modernize the rules to support remote attendance at small claims proceedings. They also incorporate procedures from the Court’s Practice Direction SM CL 02, which was due to expire at the end of 2022. Other significant changes include the requirement for parties to file documents, and serve them on the other parties, before certain hearings regardless of whether parties are attending in-person or remotely. This eNews outlines highlights of the latest changes.

There’s a new definition of “method of attendance”. The phrase is used in several court forms to describe whether someone will attend a court proceeding in person at a court location, or by telephone, video-conference, or another means of electronic communication.

Changing the method of attending a court proceeding
The Chief Judge has set out “default” (standard) methods of attending various types of court proceedings in Practice Direction SM CL 02.

Rule 17(16.1) allows you to apply for an order to change the default method of attending a proceeding without having to attend a hearing on that application. This procedure is called “getting a desk order”.

To get a desk order to change the default method of attending court for an upcoming proceeding, you use Form 17 to apply:

• to a registrar to change your method of attending a conference or application hearing
• to a judge or judicial justice to change your method of attending a payment hearing
• to a judge to change your method of attending a trial or default hearing
• to a judge to change someone else’s method of attending any proceeding.

Note: The default method of attending a trial, payment hearing, or default hearing cannot be changed just by filing a consent order signed by both parties. You need to apply for a desk order.

See Rule 17

Other desk orders
You may also apply to a judge for a desk order to:

• extend or shorten a time limit
• correct an accidental slip or omission (a mistake or something left out) in a court order
• request any other order a judge has power to make when notice on another party is not required.

See Rule 16

Changes to payment hearing procedures
Updates to payment hearing procedures include a new requirement for a debtor who is not a corporation to file a Statement of Finances using Form 40.

See Rule 12

24 existing small claims forms have been updated with simpler language. Three new forms have been added:

  1. Statement of Finances (Form 40) – to be filed by a debtor who is not a corporation for payment hearing
  2. Supporting Materials Cover Sheet (Form 39) – to be used when materials are being filed in support of:
    • Application for Default Order (Form 5),
    • Application to a Judge or Justice (Form 17)
    • Summons to a Payment Hearing (Form 12)
    • Notice of a Payment Hearing (Form 13)
    • Summons to a Default Hearing (Form 14)
  3. Third Party Notice (Form 3.1) – to replace a reply in Form 2

See Schedule B

Filing and service of documents
The Rules add requirements for parties to file documents and serve them on the other parties before certain hearings - whether they are attending in-person or remotely. They are similar to the rules previously contained in Practice Direction SM CL 02. Requiring documents to be filed before a proceeding gives the parties advance knowledge of documents that the other party relies on, so everyone can be better prepared, and cases can proceed as scheduled.

See various Rules

Transition Rules
There are “transitional provisions” to cover proceedings underway on October 3, 2022 for:

  • Settlement Conferences: Rule 7(21)
  • Trial Conferences: Rule 7.5(19)
  • Other Rules about Service and Proving Service: Rule 18(20) and (21)
  • Use of Forms: Rule 21(3) Reply, 21(4) Third Party Reply, 21(5) Statement of Finances.

Related changes to Practice Direction SM CL 02
Since parts of the Practice Direction are now included in the Rules, it has been updated and renamed Revised SM CL 02 Practice Direction: Default Method of Attendance for Court Appearances Under the Small Claims Rules.

Where to find the updated Rules
Order in Council No. 401/2022 makes these changes to the Small Claims Rules.

The updated Rules will soon be available on (check to make sure it says the consolidation is current to a date after October 3, 2022).

Please check the date an eNews article was posted. We do our best to keep our website up to date, but older articles may not reflect current information. eNews articles provide general information only and should not be used as authority in court proceedings or as a substitute for legal advice.