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B.C. provincial court suspends regular operations as of March 25

Friday, March 20, 2020 @ 3:50 PM | By Ian Burns

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 24, 2020 @ 12:47 PM


Effective March 25, 2020 (and unless otherwise stated in this notice), Chief Judge Melissa Gillespie has suspended regular operations of the provincial court of British Columbia at all of its locations to protect the health and safety of court users and to help contain the spread of COVID-19. In light of the extraordinary circumstances during the current public health emergency, people are strongly discouraged from attending any courthouse.

Urgent criminal trials as ordered by a judge to proceed, bail hearings during court sitting hours, and other urgent hearings as ordered by a judge will only be heard at one of the identified Hub Court locations, unless otherwise ordered by the regional administrative judge or their designate.

In person filings at all court locations are suspended. All in custody criminal trials and trial continuations scheduled between March 23 and May 16 are adjourned and witnesses will be denotified unless the defendant, their counsel or Crown counsel contact the judicial case manager at the applicable court location before March 27 and arrange to have the court determine, by telephone, whether the trial is urgent and, if so, how the trial will proceed. Otherwise, as of March 27 defendants will be deemed to have consented to this adjournment and witnesses will be denotified. The court file will record that these adjournments are due to COVID-19.

With the exception of matters determined by a judge to be urgent, all out of custody criminal matters (initial appearances, remands, applications, trials, and sentencings) scheduled to proceed between March 18 and May 16 are also adjourned without the parties having to attend court. The court file will record that these adjournments are due to COVID-19. If an out of custody trial is urgent, the person out of custody, their counsel or Crown counsel must contact the judicial case manager at the applicable local court location before March 27 and they will arrange to have the court determine by telephone whether the trial is urgent and any next steps. Otherwise, as of March 27, the person will be deemed to have consented to this adjournment and witnesses will be de-notified. The court file will record that these adjournments are due to COVID-19.

Criminal trials that are currently scheduled for continuation between March 25 and May 16 are adjourned unless a party contacts the judicial case manager at the applicable court location and applies to the court before March 27 by telephone to proceed on the basis of urgency. If the judge allows the application the continuation must be heard by telephone. There will not be any in person attendances by the accused, counsel or witnesses. If you think a matter (other than a trial) is urgent, you or your counsel must contact the judicial case manager at the applicable local court location, and they will arrange to have a judge determine, by telephone, whether the matter is urgent and any next steps.

All non-urgent family matters, including trials, scheduled to proceed between March 18 and May 16 are adjourned without the parties having to attend court. Family law trials that are currently scheduled for a continuation between March 25 and May 16 are adjourned unless a party applies to the court registry before March 27 by telephone to proceed on the basis of urgency. If the judge allows the application, the continuation must be heard by telephone. There will not be any in person attendance by counsel, parties or witnesses. In a child protection case all statutorily mandated matters, including the initial presentation hearing and the protection hearing, are urgent hearings and will proceed on the day they are scheduled by telephone and, if they are on a list, they will proceed on the list day.

Small claims settlement conferences and small claims trial conferences scheduled between March 16 and May 16 will not proceed so the parties should not attend court. Only urgent small claims matters as determined by a judge on the record will be heard by telephone. Small claims trials that are currently scheduled to continue between March 23 and May 16 are adjourned.

The timeline to pay fines related to a provincial court traffic ticket or bylaw case is extended to June 30. These measures are adopted to ensure no one is required to attend court or visit a courthouse to deal with a pending fine.