Under the Child, Family and Community Service Act judges conduct hearings to decide whether parents’ care of a child should be supervised by a social worker, or whether children must be removed from their parents’ care because of abuse or neglect. They also conduct Family Case Conferences to help families and social workers agree on what is necessary to reunite the family. The Provincial Court (Child, Family and Community Service Act) Rules set out procedures in these matters.
The Court has been working with the provincial government to modernize and fill some gaps in the rules. This eNews highlights some of the changes taking effect on Monday, December 19, 2022.
There are new definitions of:
• “business day”- a term used in Rule 6(11.01) regarding when service by email is deemed to be completed
• “method of attendance” – a term used on many Forms to indicate whether people will attend court in person at a court location or by telephone, videoconference or other means of electronic communication
• “lawyer of record” – meaning a lawyer who has provided notice or advised the Court under Rule 8(20) that they are representing a party. References to “lawyer” have been changed to “lawyer of record” throughout the Rules.
A new separate “Interpretation” section is added.
Method of attendance
Various rules have been updated to support proceedings by telephone, videoconference, or other means of electronic communication (except for hearings where sworn oral evidence will be given).
The Chief Judge has set out “default” (standard) methods of attending various types of court proceedings in Practice Direction FAM 12. Parties, lawyers, witnesses, and others may apply to attend a proceeding by an alternate method of attendance by completing and filing an Application to Change Method of Attendance (Form 10.5). See Rules 3 and 9 for more provisions about methods of attendance, and whether or not service and a hearing of the application is required.
The time for service of a subpoena is extended to seven days before the hearing in Rule 3, to allow time for a witness to make an application about their method of attendance.
Various details about service have been revised in Rule 6, including to allow for service and proof of service of documents by email.
The requirement for a mandatory case conference is removed, but parties may request one and a judge may order it under Rule 2.
Rule 7(4) requires that an order be approved and signed by the lawyer of record for each represented party, unless:
• the judge orders otherwise, or
• the order is a protective intervention order under s. 28 or a restraining order under s. 98 of the CFCSA.
Rule 8 allows adjournment of a hearing if the Director’s lawyer of record files the new Form 10.2 Consent Adjournment for a hearing at which sworn oral evidence will not be given after having obtained the consent of all parties or their lawyers of record. It replaces FAM 07 Practice Direction: CFCSA Consent Requisitions.
Both language and procedures have been updated in many forms (Forms 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 10.1), and there are four new forms:
1. Consent Adjournment (Form 10.2)
2. Notice of Lawyer of Record for Party (Form 10.3)
3. Notice of Removal of Lawyer of Record for Party (Form 10.4)
4. Application to Change Method of Attendance (Form 10.5)
See Appendix “A”.
Related changes to Provincial Court Practice Directions on December 19
The Court’s FAM 12 Practice Direction is updated and retitled. FAM 07 Practice Direction: CFCSA Consent Requisitions is rescinded as it is now incorporated in Rule 8(4)(b).
Where to find the Rule changes
OIC 559/2022 and OIC 676/2022 make changes to the Rules. The updated Rules will soon be available on BCLaws.gov.bc.ca (check to make sure it says the consolidation is current to a date after December 19, 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.