CBABC receives regular updates from the Courts, LSBC, LTSA, and others. We will update this page as information becomes available to us. 

NEW Using microsoft Teams in Online Court Proceedings

These guides were prepared to support lawyers who are appearing in a court conducting proceedings using Microsoft Teams on a desktop computer or by telephone.

Best Practices in a Zoom Courtroom

This guide outlines best practices to work with the technology, to adapt to the online courtroom, and addresses relevant security issues. Download the Guide.

Court of Appeal for BC
+

Note: this Notice replaces the Notice to the Public Regarding Access to Court Proceedings During the COVID-19 Pandemic dated 29 April 2020

Introduction

On 20 April 2020 Chief Justice Bauman directed that, beginning 4 May 2020, the Court of Appeal will hear: (1) all appeals, including those that are not urgent, by video conference using the Zoom platform, unless otherwise directed, and (2) all chambers applications and Registrar’s appointments, including those that are not urgent, by teleconference or in writing, unless otherwise directed.

The Court of Appeal is taking the following steps to ensure that accredited media and other members of the public have access to, and can observe, court proceedings during this exceptional time. The Court of Appeal is committed to the open court principle and will be examining additional steps to ensure all members of the media and public can access Court proceedings. The Court asks for patience as it works to fulfill its appellate function and Constitutional functions while adopting new technology and procedures.

Access to Video and Teleconference Proceedings

The Court’s weekly hearing list and chambers list are updated daily and indicate which matters are proceeding by video conference or teleconference.

Access to Video Conference Proceedings

To observe matters proceeding by video conference click on the public link provided on the Court’s weekly hearing list. This will allow you to join the video conference as an observer live from your device. Note that the public link may not be posted until the morning the video conference is set to proceed and, if you do not already have the Zoom application downloaded on your device, you can follow the prompts to install it, or join the meeting over the web. In order to maintain appropriate decorum during a video conference proceeding, the judges and the people making submissions to the court will not be able to see or hear the people observing.

Access to Teleconference Proceedings

To observe matters proceeding by teleconference submit a Request to Attend Teleconference Proceedings no later than 12 noon the day before the hearing date. Late requests cannot be processed in time to respond with the dial-in information you will need.

The number of callers that can be connected through a single teleconference number is limited and priority will be given to parties to the proceeding and members of accredited media. More than one person may listen to the proceeding from a single phone.

Note that counsel are permitted to share connection details with their co-counsel and clients if they will be listening from separate phones, however, connection details should not be shared with anyone else. Counsel are asked to inform the registry if they require connections for more than 10 separate telephones.

In order to maintain appropriate decorum during a teleconference proceeding you must dial into the teleconference at the set time. The court will not disrupt ongoing proceedings to connect you. Additionally, anyone observing must mute their microphone so as to limit the possibility of disruptions from background noise.

Policy on use of electronic devices in courtrooms

The Court's Policy on the use of electronic devices in courtrooms applies to all court proceedings including those conducted remotely by video or teleconference. This means that members of accredited media may audio record proceedings for the limited purpose of verifying their notes. Any other audio or video recording of the proceeding including screen shots or other photographs is prohibited. Anyone who uses an electronic device in a manner prohibited by the policy is subject to sanction, including prosecution for contempt of court.

Media Participation in Court Proceedings

In any appeals where the media wishes to make submissions, such as where a publication ban is opposed or challenged, accommodations for participation will be arranged in the same manner as for other parties, detailed in the Court’s updated Notice to the Public dated 20 April 2020.

Media Access to Digital Audio Recordings (DARS)

Any requests for access to court audio recordings (post-hearing) by accredited media should be made by completing the usual access to audio request form and attaching a remote access to DARS undertaking to the automatically generated email before submitting the request. Requests will be processed by Court Services Branch personnel in the usual manner. If access is granted the requestor will receive an email confirmation and a link to a digital FTP site to remotely access the requested audio recording.

Access to Court Records

The Court will continue processing requests for access to the court record in the usual manner as prescribed under the Court of Appeal’s Record and Courtroom Access Policy.

Dated 14 May 2020, at Vancouver, British Columbia

By Direction of Robert J. Bauman
Chief Justice of British Columbia

+

The appeal hearing in Trenchard v. Westsea Construction Ltd. took place by video conference using Zoom on Tuesday May 5th. You can watch a recording of the proceedings and review the factums at this link.

If you wish to use the video recording of this appeal for anything other than personal viewing, please review and adhere to these terms of use

If you have any feedback about the recording, you may write to the Court at Video.Conference.Appeals@bccourts.ca.

+

Introduction

On 20 April 2020 Chief Justice Bauman directed that, beginning 4 May 2020, the Court of Appeal will hear: (1) all appeals, including those that are not urgent, by video conference using the Zoom platform, and (2) all chambers applications and Registrar’s appointments, including those that are not urgent, by teleconference or in writing.

The Court of Appeal is taking the following steps to ensure that accredited media and other members of the public have access to, and can observe,court proceedings during this exceptional time. The Court of Appeal is committed to the open court principle and will be examining additional steps to ensure all members of the media and public can access Court proceedings. The Court asks for patience as it works to fulfill its appellate function and Constitutional functions while adopting new technology and procedures.

Access to Video or Teleconference proceedings

The Court updates its hearing list daily and matters that are proceeding by video conference or teleconferenceare noted. To observe a particular proceeding submit a Request to Attend Video Conference Proceedings, or a Request to Attend Teleconference Proceedings no later than 12 noon the day before the hearing date. Late requests cannot be processed in time to respond with the information you will need to observe the proceeding. This temporary measure is in place because the court needs to manage the number of participants in video andteleconference proceedings to ensure that the quality of the proceedings remains stable and manageable.

The Court's Policy on the use of electronic devices in courtrooms applies to court proceedings conducted remotely by video or teleconference. This means that members of accredited media may audio record proceedings for the limited purpose of verifying their notes. Any other audio or videorecording of the proceeding including screen shots or other photographs is prohibited. Anyone who uses an electronic device in a manner prohibited by the policy is subject to sanction, including prosecution for contempt of court.

Video Conference Proceedings

To avoid issues with bandwidth during video conference proceedings, the number of people permitted to observe will be limited and the court clerk may remove observers if the quality of the video conference is affected. The Court will explore other options for providing access that do not affect the quality of video conference proceedings. Requests to attend a video conference hearing will be processed on a first come first served basis with space reserved for parties to the proceeding. More than one person may observe the video conference from a single device, but you must not share the link to join the proceeding directly with anyone else. All requests to attend the proceeding from a separate device must be made to the registry by submitting a Request to Attend Video Conference Proceedings.

In order to maintain appropriate decorum during a videoconference proceeding the judges and the people making submissions to the court will not be able to see or hear people observing the hearing.

Teleconference Proceedings

The number of callers that can be connected through a single teleconference number is limited. Priority will be given to parties to the proceeding and members of accredited media. More than one person may listen to the proceeding from a single phone, however, you are not permitted to share the connection details directly with anyone else. All requests to connect to the proceeding from a separate telephone must be made directly to the registry by submitting a Request to Attend Teleconference Proceedings.

In order to maintain appropriate decorum during a teleconference proceeding you must dial into the teleconference at the set time. The court will not disrupt ongoing proceedings to connect you. Additionally, anyone observing must mute their microphone so as to limit the possibility of disruptions from background noise.

Media Participation in Court Proceedings

In any appeals where the media wishes to make submissions, such as where a publication ban is opposed or challenged, accommodations for participation will be arranged in the same manner as for other parties, detailed in the Court’s updated Notice to the Public dated 20 April 2020.

Media Access to Digital Audio Recordings (DARS)

Any requests for access to court audio recordings (post-hearing) by accredited media should be made by completing the usual access to audio request form and attaching a remote access to DARS undertaking to the automatically generated email before submitting the request. Requests will be processed by Court Services Branch personnel in the usual manner. If access is granted the requestor will receive an email confirmation and a link to a digital FTP site to remotely access the requested audio recording.

Access to Court Records

The Court will continue processing requests for access to the court record in the usual manner as prescribed under the Court of Appeal’s Record and Courtroom Access Policy, although an attempt will be made to provide access remotely (via digital records) rather than in person wherever possible.

Dated 29 April 2020, at Vancouver, British Columbia

By Direction of Robert J. Bauman
Chief Justice of British Columbia

+

This Notice to the Public contains detailed information about the video conference hearing process, including etiquette and decorum, for appeals beginning 4 May 2020. It includes a step-by-step guide to appearing in a Zoom video conference proceeding.

+

This flowchart provides an overview of the appeal process. Notes have been added to help people understand how the appeal process has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

+

Dated April 20, 2020

This Notice replaces the Notice to the Public Regarding the Court of Appeal for British Columbia’s Response to COVID-19 issued 30 March 2020. It provides important new information regarding the continuation of Court operations.

Download a PDF of this Notice

1. Introduction

On 17 March 2020 and 30 March 2020, the Chief Justice of British Columbia issued directions modifying the operations of the Court of Appeal for British Columbia to protect the health of litigants, court staff, judges and members of the public and to help contain the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

This new notice, which applies to civil and criminal appeals, replaces the 17 March and 30 March notices and provides important information regarding the continuation of court operations. In particular:

1.1 Suspension of service and filing deadlines

The suspension of service and filing deadlines for existing appeals and chambers applications started 18 March 2020 and has been extended from 1 May 2020 to 1 June 2020.

1.2 Continuation of court operations

Despite the suspension of deadlines until 1 June 2020:

  • The registry is accepting filings in all matters, and parties are encouraged to advance their appeals if they are able to do so.
  • In civil appeals, electronic filing is mandatory for all parties beginning 4 May 2020.
  • Beginning 4 May 2020, the Court will hear all appeals, including those that are not urgent, by videoconferencing using the Zoom platform, unless otherwise directed.
  • Beginning 4 May 2020, the Court will hear all chambers applications and Registrar’s appointments, including those that are not urgent, by teleconference or in writing. For all new chambers applications or appointments, litigants must file and serve materials according to the timelines required under the Court of Appeal Act, Court of Appeal Rules, Criminal Code, the Court of Appeal Criminal Rules and the Court’s Civil and Criminal Practice Directives.

2. New Appeals and Applications for Leave to Appeal

2.1 Required Time Periods to Commence Civil or Family Proceedings

The required time periods to commence civil or family proceedings stopped running on 26 March 2020. For further details review Ministerial Order No. M098. This means that until further notice you may start an appeal if you wish to do so, but, if you are unable to start an appeal, you can wait without concern that the limitation period to start civil or family proceedings will expire.

The suspension of time periods started on 26 March 2020 and will remain in effect until the state of emergency declared under s. 9(1) of the Emergency Program Act on 18 March 2020 expires or is cancelled. This means that any notice of appeal or application for leave to appeal that needed to be filed before 26 March 2020 is still subject to the usual timeline to initiate, including those that needed to be filed between 18 March 2020 and 26 March 2020.

2.2 Required Time Periods to Commence Criminal Proceedings

Parties should continue to file and serve notices of appeal or applications for leave to appeal in criminal matters within required time periods.

3. Existing Appeals and Applications

3.1 Filing and Service Deadlines

The filing and service deadlines for all existing appeals, existing applications for leave to appeal, and other existing matters before the Court were suspended by direction of the Chief Justice and they will remain suspended until 1 June 2020. This means that the required time periods to file or serve materials stopped running on 18 March 2020 and will not start to run again until 1 June 2020. Beginning 1 June 2020 you will have the same amount of time to file and serve materials as you would have been entitled to on 18 March 2020.

For clarity, the Chief Justice has further directed that the operation of s. 25 of the Court of Appeal Act is also suspended from 18 March 2020 until 1 June 2020, meaning that matters will not be placed on the inactive list or dismissed as abandoned by operation of s. 25 during this period.

Neither the direction of the Chief Justice effective 18 March 2020 nor Ministerial Order No. M098 suspends the timelines for taking a step required by court order or direction. However, litigants can expect the Court will likely consider the exceptional circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic as a factor if an extension is sought.

Despite the suspension of deadlines until 1 June 2020, the registry is accepting filings in all matters, including matters that are not urgent. Parties are encouraged to advance their appeals and to communicate with one another on how they will proceed.

3.2 How to File Documents and Materials

As discussed above, the registry is open to accept all filings. However, to support social distancing, the registry counter is closed and all documents must be filed in the following manner:

3.2.1 The Filing of Documents in Civil Appeals

Beginning 4 May 2020, for civil appeals, all parties must use electronic filing through Court Services Online (CSO) for all documents except those discussed below. For clarity, as of 4 May 2020 the Court will not accept filings by fax, mail or courier in civil appeals, unless the document cannot be electronically filed or submitted by email as described below.

Despite Rule 54.1(5), the only documents that the Court will continue to receive outside of the e-filing system, or by email as described below, will be:

  1. a motion book;
  2. a reply book;
  3. an appeal record;
  4. an appeal book;
  5. a form of order submitted for entry.

Please do not contact the registry for assistance with electronic filing, as the registry will not be able to help. Parties who have never used electronic filing can initiate the process by signing up for BasicBCeID at https://www.bceid.ca/. Anyone having difficulty with electronic filing can email Courts.CSO@gov.bc.ca or call toll free within Canada 1-800-663-6102 for assistance.

For all material filed by any electronic means (Court Services Online, email, or on memory stick):

  • The use of coloured covers and any requirements for tabs will be dispensed with.
  • Filings must be in proper court forms, be legibly scanned, in PDF, and in Arial 12-Point font.
  • Scanned filings must be OCR’ed (i.e. use Optical Character Recognition so that the PDF can be copied and pasted from into another document).

To File Memorandums of Argument and Books of Authority: These documents must be electronically filed through Court Services Online. However, books of authorities are only to be filed where a party cannot hyperlink in their submission or factum an authority to an open source, such as CanLII or Lexum. Books of authorities may not exceed 10MB in size. Any memorandum of argument must observe the three-page limit set in Filing Written Argument in Court of Appeal Chambers (Civil Practice Note, 1 March 2012).

To File Factums and Transcripts: Parties must now file factums and transcripts by submitting them via e-mail to appealrecords@bccourts.ca and the requirement to file a paper copy is suspended. You will receive an email attaching a scan of the stamped cover page as confirmation that the document is filed. The requirement to file transcript extract books in civil appeals is suspended. The formatting and naming requirements in the Court’s directive, Submission of Electronic Factums and Statements (Civil & Criminal Practice Directive, 2 July 2019) must be followed both for factums and for transcripts (by analogy). Hyperlinks to open-source authorities are required, as discussed above.

To File Motion Books, Reply Books, Appeal Records, Appeal Books, and Orders: For filing these documents, parties have two options:

  1. They may file by fax if the document is 20 or fewer pages, and otherwise meets the requirements set out in the practice directive on Use of the Facsimile in the Court of Appeal. The prohibition in this directive on filing bound materials is suspended.
  2. Paper copies or memory sticks containing electronic copies of these filings may be mailed or couriered to 206 – 800 Smithe Street, Vancouver British Columbia, V6Z 2E1, Attention: Court of Appeal Registry. Please note that the registry will not process these filings for 24 hours, given COVID-19 risks, but will backdate documents to the date they were postmarked or delivered. Please do not deliver any copies besides those required by the Court. You will receive an email attaching a scan of the stamped cover page as confirmation that the document is filed and, for that purpose, you must provide an email address on the cover of the document to be filed. You should serve the remaining copies of your document together with a copy of the stamped cover page.

If none of these options are possible, please call the registry at the phone numbers listed below in Part 5 of this Notice.

3.2.2 The Filing of Documents in Criminal Appeals

To File Factums, Transcripts, and Statements: Factums, transcripts, and statements must be filed in accordance with the directions above in section 3.2.1 that apply to factums and transcripts in civil appeals.

To File Books of Authority: Despite the fact that e-filing is not yet available for criminal appeals, the requirements that apply to books of authority in civil appeals apply also in criminal appeals: they do not need to be filed unless the factum, statement, or written submission cannot by hyperlinked to open source authorities.

To File All Other Documents: For other documents in criminal appeals that cannot be submitted electronically as above, the parties have two options:

  1. They may file by fax if the document is 20 or fewer pages, and otherwise meets the requirements set out in the practice directive on Use of the Facsimile in the Court of Appeal. The prohibition in this directive on filing bound materials is suspended.
  2. Paper copies or memory sticks containing electronic copies of these filings may be mailed or couriered to 206 – 800 Smithe Street, Vancouver British Columbia, V6Z 2E1, Attention: Court of Appeal Registry. Please note that the registry will not process these filings for 24 hours, given COVID-19 risks, but will backdate documents to the date they were postmarked or delivered. Please do not deliver any copies besides those required by the Court. You will receive an email attaching a scan of the stamped cover page as confirmation that the document is filed and, for that purpose, you must provide an email address on the cover of the document to be filed. You should serve the remaining copies of your document together with a copy of the stamped cover page.

If none of these options are possible, please call the registry at the phone numbers listed below in Part 5 of this Notice to discuss other options.

3.2.3 Future Enhancements to the E-Filing System

The government e-filing system is being enhanced by the Court Services Branch to allow for as many documents as possible to be filed through Court Services Online (CSO).

Please check back for further notices, as the requirements for those documents that presently cannot be e-filed may change rapidly, including prior to 4 May 2020.

3.3 Appeal Hearings

All hearings scheduled on or after 4 May 2020 will proceed by videoconference unless otherwise directed. Parties will not be permitted to adjourn appeals on the sole basis that they would prefer not to proceed by videoconference. Appeals may also proceed in writing by approval of the Court on consent request addressed to the Registrar.

Until a permanent, enterprise videoconferencing solution is provided to the Court by government, hearings will proceed using Zoom, a commercial service that has been employed successfully to conduct hearings in other courts, such as the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Instructions on logistics and Court etiquette will be provided to the parties in advance of a Zoom hearing, so parties can understand the proposed process. Parties will be expected to become familiar and test their video and audio capabilities using the Zoom platform before any court hearing.

At least 14 days before an appeal hearing, litigants must complete and submit Appendix A to advise the Court about who will be attending the hearing and any concerns about the privacy or confidentiality of information that will be involved in the video proceeding and proposed steps to mitigate those concerns. Litigants must expect to address the nature and precise extent of any publication bans or sealing orders (including who those orders apply to and their exact terms).

Further details on accredited media or public access to video hearings will be forthcoming. Any access questions should be directed to The Honourable Bruce Cohen at scjcommunicationsofficer@courts.bc.ca.

3.4 Chambers Hearings

All chambers applications will proceed by teleconference unless otherwise directed. For all new chambers applications, litigants must file and serve materials according to the timelines required under the Court of Appeal Act, Court of Appeal Rules, Criminal Code, the Court of Appeal Criminal Rules and the Court’s Civil and Criminal Practice Directives. Chambers applications may also proceed in writing by approval of the Court on consent request addressed to the Registrar.

The Court’s capacity to hear a full chambers list may remain compromised. As such:

  • Litigants should coordinate with one another before filing a chambers application and should be prepared to meet all subsequent filing and service deadlines set out in the Court of Appeal Act and Rules.
  • Litigants must check the online list of available dates before filing a chambers application in accordance with Booking Civil Chambers Applications (Civil Practice Note, 8 May 2017), and should check again just before e-filing.
  • Litigants should be patient with the occasional need to re-book chambers applications to other dates, given expected demands. The chambers scheduler, as a Deputy Registrar, has the final say on the reassignment of dates, if necessary (no appeals to the Registrar).

Given the need to conduct chambers matters by teleconference and get materials to the presiding judge, the late filing of chambers materials will not be permitted.

3.5 Hearings before the Registrar

All hearings set to proceed before the Registrar will proceed by Zoom, teleconference, in writing, or as directed by the Registrar. As with chambers, for all new appointments, litigants must file and serve materials according to the timelines required under the Court of Appeal Act and Court of Appeal Rules, Criminal Code, Court of Appeal Criminal Rules, and the Court’s Civil and Criminal Practice Directives. Parties may also request or consent to an appointment being heard in writing only.

3.6 Matters Scheduled to be heard between 18 March 2020 and 1 May 2020

All appeal hearings, chambers applications and other matters that were originally scheduled to occur between 18 March 2020 and 1 May 2020 have been adjourned unless designated by the Chief Justice as matters that must proceed. Those appeals have largely been rescheduled for June, though the Court is also sitting throughout the month of July to address any backlogs.

4. Self-Represented Litigants

Self-represented litigants are expected to comply with the modified processes set out in this notice.
Access Pro-Bono has a dedicated appeals program. If you require assistance contact Heather Wojcik 604-424-8286. You can also visit accessprobono.ca or call 604-878-7400 or 1-877-762-6664 to find out more information about Access Pro-Bono emergency telephone clinics that have been set up in response to COVID-19.

5. Registry Contact Information

General Inquiries: 604.660.2468
Maria Littlejohn, Court Scheduler: 604.660.2865
Manjit Gunglay, Chambers Scheduler: 604.660.2859
Kristine Dhamrait, Registrar Scheduler: 604.660.2729
Fax filings: 604.660.1951

Mail or Courier: Vancouver Registry
BC Court of Appeal The Law Courts 206 - 800 Smithe Street Vancouver, BC V6Z 2E1

Dated 20 April 2020, at Vancouver, British Columbia

By Direction of Robert J. Bauman
Chief Justice of British Columbia

Supreme Court of BC
+

COVID-19 Notice No. 23
Date: revised May 21, 2020

Highlighted changes:

  • Clarifications regarding jury selection and jury trials

This notice replaces the following notice:

  • COVID-19 Notice No. 20 – Civil and Family Matters – Resumption of Trial Management Conferences and Trials, dated May 13, 2020

Introduction

On March 19, 2020, the Supreme Court of British Columbia suspended regular operations to protect the health and safety of court users and to help contain the spread of COVID-19. All civil and family matters scheduled for trials, conferences, and chambers applications or other hearings between March 19 and May 29, 2020 were adjourned, unless the Court otherwise directed. See the Court’s COVID-19 Notice #8.

The COVID-19 Notice #8 also states that the suspension of regular operations and adjournment of trials scheduled on or before May 29, 2020 necessarily suspended the usual timeframes under the Rules for holding trial management conferences (“TMCs”), filing trial briefs, and filing trial certificates, as these timeframes all count back from the scheduled trial date. In addition, COVID-19 Notice #8 states that trials scheduled after May 29, 2020 will also be affected and that further directions will be provided. This Notice provides further directions on these matters.

The Court is now preparing to resume some regular operations as set out in its COVID19 Notice #22. During this transition, to allow the Court and parties time to prepare for the resumption of operations, the Court is extending the adjournment only for civil and family trials scheduled to begin between June 1 and June 5, 2020. While the Court is taking all steps necessary to prepare to hear trials scheduled on or after June 8, 2020, the Court cannot guarantee that matters will proceed as scheduled. The Court’s ability to hear trials scheduled on or after June 8, 2020 will continue to be subject to developments that may occur during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, civil jury selections are suspended and civil jury trials are cancelled up to and including September 7, 2020 everywhere in the province pursuant to COVID-19 Notice #22. Until further notice, parties are not required to submit jury fees. Since resumption of jury selections must precede resumption of jury trials, jury trials may be further delayed.

For civil matters where a jury notice has been filed and served, a party wishing to proceed by judge alone may schedule a TMC or a judicial management conference (“JMC”) and apply to have the jury notice set aside. A party wishing to continue with a trial by jury can oppose such an application and apply to adjourn the trial. If all parties consent to proceeding by judge alone this may be addressed at a TMC or a JMC. To schedule a TMC for such an application the party must follow the steps set out in Part IV of this Notice and to schedule a JMC for such an application the party must follow the steps set out in Part V of this Notice.

Effective May 13, 2020, Chief Justice Hinkson directs that:

  • TMCs that are already scheduled to take place on or after June 1, 2020, may proceed by telephone in accordance with the process set out in Part II of this Notice.
  • TMCs that were scheduled to take place between March 19 and May 29, 2020 and were adjourned, for family trials that are scheduled to begin on or after June 8, 2020, may be rebooked in accordance with the process set out in Part III of this Notice.
  • TMCs that were scheduled to take place between March 19 and May 29, 2020 and were adjourned, for civil trials that are scheduled to begin on or after June 8, 2020, may be rebooked in accordance with the process set out in Part IV of this Notice.
  • Civil and family trials that were scheduled and were adjourned due to the suspension of the court’s regular operations may be dealt with in accordance with the process set out in Part V of this Notice.

The Chief Justice also ordered that until the conclusion of the Court’s suspension of regular operations, certain requirements in the Supreme Court Civil Rules and the Supreme Court Family Rules regarding the timing of certain TMCs and the timeframes for filing and serving trial briefs (civil matters), trial records, and trial certificates have been amended for TMCs and trials scheduled to begin on or before July 24, 2020. In addition, requirements in the Supreme Court Civil Rules and Supreme Court Family Rules, which require either attendance in person or an application to exempt a person from attending in person, do not apply to TMCs held during the Court’s suspension of regular operations. See the Court’s order dated May 13, 2020, found here.

I. THE PURPOSE OF A TMC

Given the wide-ranging impacts of COVID-19, the Court recognizes that it is important in these times to hold TMCs to assess whether parties are ready or able to proceed to trial and how the trial may be conducted efficiently within the requirements of public health orders and guidelines. Properly completed trial briefs will assist the Court in making orders setting out a plan for how the trial should be conducted.

It is important to note, however, that holding a TMC does not guarantee that a civil or family trial will proceed on the scheduled date.

II. WHAT HAPPENS TO TMCS THAT ARE SCHEDULED TO TAKE PLACE ON OR AFTER JUNE 1, 2020

If a TMC is already scheduled to take place on or after June 1, 2020, for a civil or a family matter, that TMC will take place on the scheduled date and will be heard by telephone. Parties must file and serve their trial brief, trial record and trial certificate pursuant to Part III of this Notice for a family matter and Part IV of this Notice for a civil matter.

III. FAMILY MATTERS: WHAT HAPPENS TO TMCS THAT WERE ADJOURNED

If a TMC was scheduled to take place between March 19 and May 29, 2020 and was adjourned by virtue of the Court’s COVID-19 Notice #8 and a trial is scheduled to begin on or after June 8, 2020, then that TMC may be rebooked to be heard by telephone by following the steps in Part A below. Trial briefs, trial records, and trial certificates must be filed and served in accordance with Part B below.

A. Rebooking a TMC:

To rebook a TMC a party (“Rebooking Party”) must:

  • Make efforts to contact the opposing party to determine a mutually agreeable date for the TMC, and then rebook the TMC online. The date of the TMC must be scheduled according to the following:
    • If the trial is scheduled to begin between June 8 and June 26, 2020, the TMC must take place at least 7 days before the scheduled trial date. (In other words, the timeframe in Rule 14-3(1) of the Supreme Court Family Rules has been shortened.)
    • If the trial is scheduled to begin between June 29 and July 17, 2020, the TMC must take place at least 14 days before the scheduled trial date. (In other words, the timeframe in Rule 14-3(1) of the Supreme Court Family Rules has been shortened.)
    • If the trial is scheduled to begin between July 20 and July 24, 2020, the TMC must take place at least 21 days before the scheduled trial date. (In other words, the timeframe in Rule 14-3(1) of the Supreme Court Family Rules has been shortened.)
  • Once a TMC has been rebooked, the Rebooking Party must file and promptly serve on all other parties a requisition in Form F17 with the following information:
    • the date and time of the TMC;
    • the venue at which the TMC was rebooked but also state that the TMC will be heard by telephone; and
    • the phone numbers of all parties by which they may be contacted for the hearing of the TMC.

B. Filing Trial Briefs, Trial Records and Trial Certificates:

The timeframes for filing and serving trial briefs, trial records, and trial certificates for family law cases are set out below. Parties are encouraged to e-file their documents through Court Services Online. See COVID-19 Notices #8 and #12 for more information on e-filing and other methods of filing.

Trial Brief:

All parties must file and serve their trial briefs in Form F45 at least 7 days before the date set for the TMC pursuant to Rule 14-3(3) of the Supreme Court Family Rules. This applies to trial briefs for all TMCs scheduled to take place on or after June 1, 2020.

Trial Record:

If a trial is scheduled to begin between June 8 and July 24, 2020, the party who filed the notice of trial must file and serve the trial record at least 1 day before the scheduled trial date. (In other words, the timeframe set out in Rule 14-4(3) of the Supreme Court Family Rules has been shortened.)

If the trial is scheduled to begin on or after July 27, 2020, the timeframes for filing and serving the trial record have not been shortened and the party who filed the notice of trial must file and serve the trial record in accordance with Rule 14-4(3) of the Supreme Court Family Rules: file the trial record at least 14 days before but not more than 28 days before the scheduled trial date, and promptly after filing, serve a copy of the filed trial record on all parties.

Trial briefs must be included in the trial record in accordance with Administrative Notice #13.

Trial Certificate:

If a trial is scheduled to begin between June 8 and July 24, 2020, each party must file a trial certificate in Form F46 at least 7 days before the scheduled trial date, and promptly after filing, serve a copy of the filed trial certificate on all parties. (In other words, the timeframe set out in Rule 14-5(2) of the Supreme Court Family Rules has been shortened.)

If the trial is scheduled to begin on or after July 27, 2020, the timeframes for filing and serving the trial record have not been shortened and each party must file the trial certificate in Form F46 pursuant to Rule 14-5(2) of the Supreme Court Family Rules: file the trial certificate at least 14 days before but not more than 28 days before the scheduled trial date, and promptly after filing, serve a copy of the filed trial certificate on all parties.

If the trial certificate must be filed and served before or on the date of the TMC, the parties may complete paragraph 4 of the trial certificate, which currently requires parties to certify that a trial management conference has been conducted in this family law case, as follows:

“4. A trial management conference has been conducted in this family law case: N/A Due to COVID-19 a trial management conference has not been conducted in this family law case but is scheduled to take place on [insert date].”

Unless the court otherwise orders, a trial must be removed from the trial list if no trial certificate has been filed within the timeframe set out in this Notice or pursuant to Rule 14-5 of the Supreme Court Family Rules, as applicable.

IV. CIVIL MATTERS: WHAT HAPPENS TO TMCS THAT WERE ADJOURNED

If a TMC was scheduled to take place between March 19 and May 29, 2020 and was adjourned by virtue of the Court’s COVID-19 Notice #8 and a trial is scheduled to begin on or after June 8, 2020, then that TMC may be rescheduled to be heard by telephone following the steps in Part A below. Trial briefs, trial records, and trial certificates must be filed and served in accordance with Part B below.

A. Rebooking a TMC:

To rebook the TMC a party (“Rebooking Party”) must:

  • Make efforts to contact the opposing party to determine a mutually agreeable date for the TMC, and then rebook the TMC online. The date of the TMC must be scheduled according to the following:
    • If the trial is scheduled to begin between June 8 and June 26, 2020, the TMC must take place at least 7 days before the scheduled trial date. (In other words, the timeframe in Rule 12-2(1) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules has been shortened.)
    • If the trial is scheduled to begin between June 29 and July 17, 2020, the TMC must take place at least 14 days before the scheduled trial date. (In other words, the timeframe in Rule 12-2(1) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules has been shortened.)
    • If the trial is scheduled to begin between July 20 and July 24, 2020, the TMC must take place at least 21 days before the scheduled trial date. (In other words, the timeframe in Rule 12-2(1) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules has been shortened.)
    • If the trial is scheduled to begin on or after July 27, 2020, the timeframe for scheduling the TMC is not shortened, and the TMC must take place at least 28 days and not more than 120 days before the scheduled trial date pursuant to Rule 12-2(1) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules.
  • Once a TMC has been rebooked, the Rebooking Party must file and promptly serve on all other parties a requisition in Form 17 with the following information:
    • the date and time of the TMC;
    • the venue at which the TMC was rebooked but also state that the TMC will be heard by telephone; and
    • the phone numbers of all parties by which they may be contacted for the hearing of the TMC.

The parties of record may, no later than 14 days before the date set for the TMC, apply under Rule 8-3(1) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules and in accordance with Practice Direction 51 for an order by consent dispensing with the need for a TMC. If a party intends to bring an application to dispense with the need for a TMC, they must still rebook a TMC as set out above. Trial briefs filed as part of such an application must include a sufficient amount of detail to give the Court confidence that all issues have been addressed. (In other words, parties should follow the process set out in Rule 12-2(3.4) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules.) If this application would need to be filed by Monday May 18, 2020, the party may file and serve it by Tuesday May 19, 2020 to accommodate the fact that May 18, 2020 is a statutory holiday. All other timeframes will continue to apply as set out in this Notice or pursuant to the Supreme Court Civil Rules.

B. Filing Trial Briefs, Trial Records and Trial Certificates:

The timeframes for filing and serving trial briefs, trial records, and trial certificates for civil law cases are set out below. Parties are encouraged to e-file their documents through Court Services Online. See COVID-19 Notices #8 and #12 for more information on e-filing and other methods of filing.

Trial Brief:

If the TMC is scheduled to take place between June 1 and July 24, 2020, the timeframes for filing and serving the trial brief as set out in Rules 12-2(3) and 12-2(3.1) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules have been shortened as follows:

  • The plaintiff must, at least 14 days before the date for the TMC: (a) file a trial brief in Form 41, and (b) serve a copy of the filed trial brief on all other parties of record. If a party is required to file and serve a trial brief by Monday May 18, 2020, the party may file and serve by Tuesday May 19, 2020 to accommodate the fact that May 18, 2020 is a statutory holiday.
  • Each party of record, other than the plaintiff must, at least 7 days before the date for the TMC: (a) file a trial brief in Form 41, and (b) serve a copy of the filed trial brief on all other parties of record.

If the TMC is scheduled to take place on or after July 27, 2020, the timeframes for filing and serving the trial brief in Form 41 have not been shortened and all parties must file and serve their trial brief pursuant to Rule 12-2(3) and (3.1) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules.

Unless the court otherwise orders, a trial must be removed from the trial list if no trial brief has been filed within the timeframes set out in this Notice or pursuant to Rule 12- 2(3) and (3.1) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules, as applicable.

Trial Record:

If a trial is scheduled to begin between June 8 and July 24, 2020, the party who filed the notice of trial must file and serve the trial record at least 1 day before the scheduled trial date. (In other words, the timeframes set out in Rule 12-3(3) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules have been shortened.)

If the trial is scheduled to begin on or after July 27, 2020, the timeframes for filing and serving the trial record have not been shortened and the party who filed the notice of trial must file and serve the trial record pursuant to Rule 12-3(3) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules: file the trial record at least 14 days before but not more than 28 days before the scheduled trial date, and promptly after filing, serve a copy of the filed trial record on the other parties of record.

Trial briefs must be included in the trial record in accordance with Administrative Notice #13.

Trial Certificate:

If the trial is scheduled to take place between June 8 and July 24, 2020, each party must file a trial certificate in Form 42 at least 7 days before the scheduled trial date, and promptly after filing, serve a copy of the filed trial certificate on all parties of record. (In other words, the timeframe set out in Rule 12-4(2) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules has been shortened.)

If the trial is scheduled to begin on or after July 27, 2020, the timeframes for filing and serving the trial certificate have not been shortened and each party must file the trial certificate pursuant to Rule 12-4(2) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules: file the trial certificate at least 14 days before but not more than 28 days before the scheduled trial date, and promptly after filing, serve a copy of the filed trial certificate on all parties of record.

If the trial certificate must be filed and served before or on the date of the TMC, the parties may complete paragraph 4 of the trial certificate, which currently requires parties to certify that a trial management conference has been conducted in this action, as follows:

“4. A trial management conference has been conducted in this action: N/A Due to COVID-19 a trial management conference has not been conducted in this action but is scheduled to take place on [insert date].”

Unless the court otherwise orders, a trial must be removed from the trial list if no trial certificate has been filed within the timeframe set out in this Notice or pursuant to Rule 12-4 of the Supreme Court Civil Rules, as applicable.

V. WHAT HAPPENS TO TRIALS THAT WERE SCHEDULED TO OCCUR AND WERE ADJOURNED

This part of the Notice applies to civil and family trials that were scheduled and were adjourned by virtue of the Court’s COVID-19 Notice #8 and Notice #22, and that have not already been rebooked.

In order to reschedule adjourned trial dates, parties must do 1 of the following: rebook trial dates following the steps in Part A below OR schedule a JMC to be heard by telephone following the steps in Part B below.

A. Rebooking Trial Dates

Parties should contact Supreme Court Scheduling by phone at the registry where the trial was to be held to rebook the trial based on availability as follows:

  • Before rebooking trial dates, the party seeking to rebook (“Rebooking Party”) must make efforts to contact all other parties to determine mutually agreeable dates for the trial.
  • When the Rebooking Party calls to schedule the trial, they must advise Supreme Court Scheduling of their file number, the registry location and whether a judge is seized of or assigned to the matter.
  • Once trial dates have been scheduled, the Rebooking Party must file and serve promptly on all other parties a notice of trial pursuant to Rule 12-1 of the Supreme Court Civil Rules and Rule 14-2 of the Supreme Court Family Rules.

Registry contact information can be found online here.

Parties are encouraged to e-file their notice of trial through Court Services Online. See COVID-19 Notices #8 and #12 for more information on e-filing and other methods of filing.

B. Scheduling a JMC

Effective Tuesday May 19, 2020, parties may schedule a JMC online to be heard by telephone as follows:

  • Before scheduling a JMC, the party seeking a JMC (“Scheduling Party”) must make efforts to contact all other parties to determine a mutually agreeable date for the JMC.
  • Once a JMC has been scheduled, the Scheduling Party must file and promptly serve on all other parties a requisition in Form 17 for civil law matters and Form F17 for family law matters at least 7 days before the JMC. The requisition:
    • must note the fact that a JMC has been scheduled, the date and time of the JMC, the venue at which the JMC was booked but also state that the JMC will be heard by telephone, and the phone numbers for all parties by which they may be contacted for the hearing of the JMC; and
    • may list the documents to support the requisition, such as previously filed trial briefs, trial records and trial certificates, if applicable.

One of the purposes of a JMC is to foster a candid discussion about the management of the case during COVID-19 and options on how to move the matter forward. Examples of what may be discussed include: rebooking trial dates, issues of urgency, narrowing of issues, and alternative dispute resolution options. As stated in the introduction of this Notice, for civil matters where a jury notice has been filed and served, a party wishing to proceed by judge alone may also use the JMC to apply to have the jury notice set aside.

Registry contact information can be found online here.

Parties are encouraged to e-file their requisition through Court Services Online. See COVID-19 Notices #8 and #12 for more information on e-filing and other methods of filing.

THE FOREGOING IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE. ANY UPDATED DIRECTIONS WILL BE POSTED ON THE COURT’S WEBSITE.

Dated May 21, 2020 at Vancouver, British Columbia

By Direction of Chief Justice Christopher E. Hinkson
Supreme Court of British Columbia

 

+

COVID-19 Notice No. 22
Date: revised May 21, 2020

Highlighted changes:

  • Clarifications regarding jury selection and jury trials

This notice replaces the following notice:

  • COVID-19 Notice No. 19 – Resumption of Some Court Operations, dated May 13, 2020

This notice supplements the following notice:

Effective March 19, 2020 and until further notice, the Honourable Chief Justice Hinkson suspended regular operations of the Supreme 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.

All civil and family matters scheduled for hearing between March 19 and May 29, 2020 were adjourned, unless the Court otherwise directed. This automatic adjournment extended to all trials, conferences, and chambers applications or other hearings currently scheduled for hearing on or before May 29, 2020.

The Court is resuming some operations. This notice sets out what matters will be phased in over the coming weeks. It also provides direction regarding timelines under the Supreme Court Civil Rules and the Supreme Court Family Rules that had been suspended. Further directions about court operations will be forthcoming, and members of the profession, the public and the media are advised to continue to monitor the Court’s website for updates.

While the Court is taking all steps necessary to resume some court operations, the Court cannot guarantee that matters will proceed as scheduled. The Province is still impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts taken to contain it. Due to the fluidity of the situation, the Court will continue to be guided by public health recommendations, and further adjustments to Court processes may be required. In these challenging times, the Court appreciates willingness on the part of parties to expect and accommodate changes with respect to scheduled proceedings.

As set out in this Notice, hearings and conferences will be conducted by telephone. Notice will be provided if and when in-person and video conferencing hearings become available.

I. MATTERS BEING HEARD DURING SUSPENSION OF OPERATIONS

The Court continues to hear or consider the following civil and family matters:

These processes will remain in place until further notice, during the resumption of some operations.

II. SCHEDULE FOR RESUMPTION OF CIVIL AND FAMILY MATTERS

Trials

All civil and family trials scheduled to begin on or before June 5, 2020 are adjourned, unless the Court otherwise directs. All civil and family trials scheduled to begin on or after June 8, 2020 will resume, unless the Court otherwise directs. The resumption of civil and family trials may be subject to change as a result of limitations on available facilities or public health recommendations. See COVID-19 Notice #23 for more information regarding the resumption of trials.

Jury Selections and Jury Trials

All civil jury selections are suspended and jury trials are cancelled up to and including September 7, 2020 everywhere in the province. Until further notice, parties are not required to submit jury fees. When the Court announces that jury trials will resume, the Court may consider abridging the time for submission of fees if requests are made by parties.

Since resumption of jury selections must precede resumption of jury trials, jury trials may be further delayed. For civil matters where a jury notice has been filed and served, a party wishing to proceed by judge alone may schedule a trial management conference (“TMC”) or a judicial management conference (“JMC”) and apply to have the jury notice set aside. A party wishing to continue with a trial by jury can oppose such an application and apply to adjourn the trial. If all parties consent to proceeding by judge alone this may be addressed at a TMC or a JMC.

Chambers Hearings and Conferences

As of June 1, 2020, the following matters will resume by telephone:

  • Judicial Case Conferences for family matters;
  • Chambers matters already scheduled for hearing on the trial list; and
  • TMCs, as set out in COVID-19 Notice #23

Judicial Case Conferences that are already scheduled to occur on or after June 1, 2020 will resume by telephone. Parties may also schedule a Judicial Case Conference, which will occur by telephone, on or after June 1, 2020 by contacting Supreme Court Scheduling by phone at the registry where the file is located and filing and serving all required materials pursuant to Rule 7-1 of the Supreme Court Family Rules. Registry contact information can be found online here.

Apart from chambers matters that are already scheduled for hearing on the trial list, which will be heard by telephone, civil and family chambers are adjourned until further notice. Parties may still file applications as appropriate under the various processes referred to in Part I of this Notice.

The balance of the scheduled matters before the Court remain adjourned until further notice. As the Court continues with its plan for resumption of court operations, further information will be provided as it becomes available.

III. LIMITATION PERIODS AND FILING DEADLINES

Running of Filing Timelines under the Supreme Court Rules Will Resume

Filing and service timelines under the Supreme Court Civil Rules and the Supreme Court Family Rules, which were suspended on March 18, 2020, will recommence on May 29, 2020. Filing and service timelines will begin to run again starting May 29, 2020. With the exception of any document associated with a Request for Urgent Hearing, Telephone Conference Hearing, or Application by Written Submissions, documents filed between March 19 and May 28, 2020 will be deemed to have been filed on May 29, 2020. Parties are encouraged to e-file through Court Services Online. Alternate methods for filing as set out in COVID-19 Notice #8 also remain in place. A party unable to meet a filing deadline for reasons related to COVID-19 may apply through a Telephone Conference Hearing or an Application by Written Submission for an order amending the timeline for filing.

The suspension of regular operations and adjournment of trials scheduled on or before May 29, 2020 necessarily suspended the usual timelines under the Supreme Court Civil and Family Rules for holding TMCs, for filing Trial Briefs, and for filing Trial Certificates, as these timelines all count back from the scheduled trial date. Trials scheduled for hearing following May 29, 2020 are also affected. See COVID-19 Notice #23 regarding the resumption of TMCs.

Provincial Suspension of Limitation Periods Remains in Place

Effective April 15, 2020, Ministerial Order No. M098 suspended limitation periods and mandatory time periods for the commencement of a civil or family proceeding from March 18, 2020 to the date on which the last extension of the declaration of the state of emergency made under section 9 (1) of the Emergency Program Act expires or is cancelled, except for those limitations and time periods established under the Builders Lien Act and Division 5 of Part 5 of the Strata Property Act.

Once this suspension is lifted, more directions will be provided by the Court.

IV. REGISTRY SERVICES REMAIN SUSPENDED

Courthouse registries are not providing in-person services until further notice.

However, all courthouses continue to accept documents for civil and family matters.

Parties are strongly encouraged to e-file through Court Services Online.

Those unable to e-file may file documents by way of:

  • Fax Filing at a registry designated as a fax filing registry by Supreme Court Civil Rule 23-2 or Supreme Court Family Rule 22-3. See Appendix A for a list of fax filing registries and the fax numbers;
  • Mailing to any Supreme Court registry. Contact information for all Supreme Court registries is available here; and
  • Using the Secure Drop Box available at Supreme Court registries during the COVID-19 pandemic. The drop box will be accessible to the public from Monday to Friday, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., and will be emptied at the end of the day and processed every 24 hours. The drop box will be monitored to ensure its contents are secure during the day. Parties who submit materials for filing using the drop box must provide with the materials a telephone number or email address where they can be reached. Registry staff will contact parties only if their materials are not accepted for filing.

V. HEARINGS WILL BE SCHEDULED AT SEVEN CENTRALIZED REGISTRIES

Effective March 30, 2020, and until further notice, hearings of the Supreme Court of British Columbia will only be scheduled at the following seven central locations, unless otherwise ordered by the Court:

  • Vancouver Law Courts
  • New Westminster
  • Victoria
  • Kamloops
  • Kelowna
  • Prince George
  • Nanaimo

Hearings will occur by telephone or video conferencing where appropriate and available, unless otherwise directed by the Court.

Other registries will continue to receive documents in the manner set out in this notice.

THE FOREGOING IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE. ANY UPDATED DIRECTIONS WILL BE POSTED ON THE COURT’S WEBSITE.

Dated May 21, 2020, at Vancouver, British Columbia

By Direction of Chief Justice Christopher E. Hinkson
Supreme Court of British Columbia

Appendix A – Fax Filing Registries

Chilliwack (604) 795-8397

Cranbrook (250) 426-1498

Dawson Creek (250) 784-2218

Kamloops (250) 828-4345

Kelowna (250) 979-6768

Nelson (250) 354-6133

Penticton (250) 492-1290

Prince George (250) 614-7923

Rossland (250) 362-7321

Salmon Arm (250) 833-7401

Smithers (250) 847-7344

Terrace (250) 638-2143

Vernon (250) 549-5461

Williams Lake (250) 398-4264

+

COVID-19 Notice No. 21
Date: May 14, 2020

This notice supplements COVID-19 Notice No. 18 – Notice of Suspension of Regular Court Operations –Criminal Proceedings

Effective March 19, 2020 and until further notice, the Honourable Chief Justice Hinkson suspended regular operations of the Supreme 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.

The Court is now working toward the resumption of regular court operations. This notice gives directions about criminal proceedings scheduled for June 1, 2020 and following. Further directions about court operations will beforthcoming, and members of the profession, the public and the media shouldcontinue to monitor the Court’s website regularly for updates.

I. MATTERS BEING HEARD DURING SUSPENSION OF OPERATIONS

The Court continues to hear the following:

  • Criminal matters asset outin Parts I and II of COVID-19 Notice No.18 (urgent and essential criminal matters, fix-date appearances, pre-trial conferences, and summary conviction and traffic ticket appeals);
  • COVID-19 Pre-Trial Conferences, as set out in COVID-19 Notice No.16; and
  • Applications under s. 490 of the Criminal Code, as set out in COVID-19 Notice No. 3.

The processes described in the notices listed abovewill remain in place until further notice. The Court also continues to hear other matters in specific criminal cases, as directed by judges of the Court.

I. SCHEDULED CRIMINAL MATTERS IN JUNE 2020

Matters scheduled for June 1-5

Unless the Court (including the assigned or seized judge)otherwise directs, all criminal trials, voir dires and pre-trial applications, and extradition hearings, scheduled to be heard between June 1 and June 5, 2020, are adjournedto the fix-date list of the court location where the matter was scheduled to be heard, on the dates set out in Appendix A to this Notice. The fix-date appearances will be by telephone, with self-represented accused persons in custody appearing by video.

To preserve jurisdiction, a bench warrant will be issued for all accused persons whose scheduled appearances between June 1 and 5, 2020are adjourned. The bench warrant will be held and not executed until the date of the fix-date appearance. If the accused person appears personally or through counsel on that date, the bench warrant will be vacated.

If Crown or defence counsel or an accused not represented by counsel wish, they may book a COVID-19 Pre-trial Conference, to take place before May 27, by following the process set out in COVID-19 Notice No. 16, to determine whether the trial or a portion thereof may proceed as scheduled between June 1-5.They may alternatively arrange a pre-trial conference before the assigned or seized judge to canvass whether the matter will proceed.

Matters scheduled for June 8 and following

At this point, the Court expects to proceed with criminal trials, voir dires and pre-trial applications, and extradition hearings scheduled to begin on or after June 8, 2020. However, the situation will continue to be assessed, taking into account the many factors affecting the Court’s capacity to hear these types of matters during the pandemic.

All jury selections are canceled up to and including September 7, 2020 everywhere in the province.

The Court continues to work with the Court Services Branchof the Ministry of Attorney General, which is making changes and improvements to courthouse and courtroom facilities and to in-court technology to accommodate court appearances consistent with public health and safety recommendations, the rights and interests of those involved, and the open court principle. The Court’s approximately 100 courtrooms are being assessed and modified for physical distancing, and some structural modifications may be necessary. Telephone and videoconferencing is operating at or near maximum current capacity. The Court also recognizes that the direct and indirect consequences of the public health emergency for individual staff and court participantswill also affect whether some cases can proceed as scheduled.

The Court will continue to explore every option to increase and fully resume its operations, and appreciates the patience and flexibility of court users during this challenging time.

THE FOREGOING IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE. ANY UPDATED DIRECTIONS WILL BE POSTED ON THE COURT’S WEBSITE.

Dated 14 May 2020, at Vancouver, British Columbia

By Direction of Associate Chief Justice Heather J. Holmes
Supreme Court of British Columbia

+
COVID-19: Suspension of Regular Supreme Court Operations

COVID-19 Notice No. 18
Date: revised May 11, 2020

Highlighted changes:

  • Part I: Summary conviction and traffic ticket appeals
  • Part III: Jury selections cancelled up to and including September 7, 2020

This notice replaces the following notices and announcements:

  • COVID-19 Notice No. 7: Notice of Suspension of RegularCourt Operations–Criminal Proceedings dated April 16, 2020;
  • COVID-19 Notice No. 5: Notice of Suspension of Regular Court Operations –Criminal Proceedings dated March 30, 2020;
  • Announcement –Changes to Supreme Court Registry Operations dated March 25, 2020;
  • Further Directions dated March 20, 2020;
  • Notice of Suspension of Regular Court Operations dated March 18, 2020; and,
  • Supreme Court of British Columbia Modified Proceedings datedMarch 13, 2020.

Effective March 19, 2020 and until further notice, the Honourable Chief Justice Hinkson has suspended regular operations of the Supreme 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.

Courthouses remain open. However, in person registry services have been suspended until further notice. Counsel, parties, litigants and members of the public are strongly discouraged from attending courthouses unless personal attendance is absolutely necessary or unless the Court otherwise directs.

I. REGULAR CRIMINAL MATTERS

Except asotherwise noted in this Part, all criminal matters scheduled for any type of appearance from March 19, 2020 up to and including May 29, 2020, are adjourned, unless the Court otherwise directs. To preserve jurisdiction, a bench warrant will be issued for all accused persons who have scheduled appearances during that time period. The bench warrant will be held and not executed until the date of the next scheduled appearance as identified below (datesare subject to change depending on circumstances closer to the time).If the accused person appears personally or through counsel on that date, the bench warrant will be vacated.

  • For a matter scheduled for the period between March 19 and April 9, 2020, the next appearance will be set on the fix-date list of the court location where the matter was scheduled to be heard, on the dates set out in Appendix A. For May dates, appearances will be by telephone, with self-represented accused persons in custody appearing by video.
  • For a matters cheduledfor the period between April 14 and May 1, 2020, the next appearance will be set on the fix-date list of the court location wherethe matter was scheduled to be heard, on the dates set out in Appendix B. For May dates, appearances will be by telephone, with self-represented accused persons in custody appearing by video.
  • For a matter (other than pre-trial conferences and fix-date appearances) scheduled for the period between May 4 and May 29, 2020, the next appearance will be set on the fix-date list of the court location where the matter was scheduled to be heard, on the dates set out in Appendix C.

Counsel must contact the local Manager of Supreme Court Scheduling the week prior to the fix-date appearance to canvass new dates. Scheduling information by location can be found here.

If the public health situation improves before May 29, 2020, to a point where the Court can begin to resume regular operations, Supreme Court Scheduling will contact counsel (and the accused if not represented by counsel) to arrange for an earlier appearance, if possible.

Pre-trial conferences already scheduled for dates before May 29, 2020, for trials scheduled to begin after May 29, 2020, will proceed as scheduled, unless the case management judge or thetrial judge directs otherwise.Counsel and self-represented accused persons should arrange to appear by telephone for these pre-trial conferences. If the accused person is self-represented and in custody, Crown counsel should arrange for them to appear at the pre-trial conference by video. For information regarding the special COVID Pre-trial Conferences being held during the suspension period, please see COVID-19 Notice No. 16.

Regular fix-date appearances will resume as of May 4, 2020, on the usual day and time for each court location, unless it is not possible for them to proceed due to logistical issues created by the public health measures.The hearings will take place at the nearest central location listed in Part VI of this Notice. For May fix-dates, appearances will be by telephone, with self-represented accused persons in custody appearing by video. Details will be provided in advance, regarding how the appearances will be run.

Summary conviction and traffic ticket appeals will proceed by telephone wherever possible and appropriate. Counsel may schedule an appeal matter for a telephone hearing by contacting Supreme Court Scheduling in the relevant central location identified in Part VI below. If counsel do not schedule a hearing in advance, appeal matters that have been adjourned as a result of the suspension of regular court operations will be scheduled for hearing at the fix-date appearance identified in Appendices A, B and C. Once a hearing date is scheduled, the parties must contact the Supreme Court criminal registry in the relevant court location to arrange to file any materials that were not already filed before the suspension of regular court operations.If copies of any exhibits are required from the Provincial Court proceedings, counsel must contact the registryat least five business days before the hearing to ensure that copies of the exhibits can be sent to the relevant court locationfor the hearing.

II.ESSENTIAL AND URGENT CRIMINAL MATTERS

In order to maintain the rule of law and its core function, the Court will continue to hear essential and urgent matters during the suspension period. The procedure for requesting hearingsof essential or urgent matters is describedin Part IV of this Notice. Hearings will be by telephone where possibleand appropriate, or by video appearance where appropriate and available. Essential or urgent criminal matters include the following:

  • Judicial interim release (bail) and bail review hearings;
  • Scheduling and detention review hearings under s. 525 of the Criminal Code;
  • Habeas corpus applications, or other applications by in-custody accused persons and offenders that require prompt attention;
  • Applications under Part VI of the Criminal Code, applications for search warrants or arrest warrants, or other related applications that should not be delayed.

For matters not listed above, counsel,or accused persons not represented by counsel, who believe that their matter is essential or urgent may also submit a request to the Courtthat the matter be heard.

III. WITNESSES, LAWYERS AND JURORS

Witnesses, lawyers and jurors should not attend court for trials or any matters (except attendance by lawyers for pre-trial conferences, as indicated above) between March 19 and May 29, 2020, unless specifically directed to do so by the Court after the date of this Notice. Jurors and witnesses will be re-notified of when to attend. Unless ordered otherwise, ongoing trials will be adjourned to a date after May 29, 2020. All jury selections are cancelled up to and including September 7, 2020, everywhere in the province.

All jury selections are cancelled up to and including September 7, 2020, everywhere in the province.

IV. PROCEDURE FOR ESSENTIAL OR URGENT MATTERS

The Court has established procedures to allow parties to request hearings of essential orurgent criminal matters (other than s. 525 scheduling hearings, which will continue to be scheduled by the Detention Review Coordinator in accordance with CPD-4, and pre-trial conferences, as describedin PartIabove).

The online process is to be used where possible. The paper process is to be used if it is not possible to use the online process. In both processes, a judge will first review relevant unfiled materials to determine if a hearing is required. If the judge determines that a hearing is required, the Court will give directions to both theapplicant and the respondent(s) to provide filed materials for the hearing.

A. Requesting a Hearing – Online Process (use if possible)

  • The party requesting a hearing of an essential or urgent matter completes and submits an online Request for Urgent Hearing form.
  • The Court sends the parties an Acknowledgment Email confirming receipt of the Request Form and notifying all parties of the request.
  • The parties must follow the instructions in the Acknowledgement Email and provide relevant unfiled materials to assist with the Court’s determination as to whether the matter is of sufficient urgency to require a hearing. If the respondent’s unfiled materials are not received within a reasonable time, the Court will review the applicant’s request without the responding materials.
  • A judge of the Court will review the requestform and related materials and make a determination as to whether the matter requires an urgent hearing.

B. Requesting a Hearing – Paper Process (use if you cannot use the Online Process)

  • The party requesting a hearing completes a paper copy of the Request Form. Paper copies of the Request Form are available at every Supreme Court registry, and are located next to the drop boxinside the courthouse. If possible, the party must provide a telephone number and/or email address at which they may be reached.
  • The party making the request sends the Court the completed Request Form along with relevant unfiled materials to assist with the Court’s determination as to whether the matter is of sufficient urgency to require a hearing.
  • The completed Request Form and relevant unfiled materials must be sent together to the Court in one of the following ways:
    • By using the drop box located at the nearest Supreme Court registry;
    • By mailing it to the nearest Supreme Court registry;
    • By faxing it to the nearest Supreme Court registry.
  • See Part V of this notice, Changes to Registry Services, for further details about submitting these documents.

C. Judge’s Determination of Whether a Hearing is Required

  • A judge will review the Request Form and relevant unfiled materials submitted to the Court (either by way of the online process or the paper process), and will determine whether an urgent hearing is required.
  • The judge’s determinationof whether or not a hearing is requiredwill be communicated to all parties:
    • Parties using the online process will receive an email notification;
    • Parties using the paper process will be contacted atthe contact information provided on the Request Form.

D. Instructions for Filing Materials

  • If the judge determines that a hearing is required, the Court will set a date for the hearing.
  • The Court will provide directions to allparties about filing and service of materialsfor the hearing. Materials will be filed electronically, if possible.

E. Conduct of Hearing

  • Parties will appear by telephone where possible and appropriate, or by video where appropriate and available.

V. CHANGES TO REGISTRY SERVICES

Courthouse registries are no longer providing in-person services during the suspension of the Court’s regular operations.

However, all courthouses will continue to receive documents for any criminal matters.

Where possible and available, documents and materials should be submitted electronically; however, the following methods may be used by any person unable to use the online processes to submit documents including in relation to:

  1. submitting a request for an urgent hearing; 
  2. filing materials as directed by the Court; or
  3. filing materials for any other criminal matter (whether scheduled for an appearance before May 29, 2020 or after).
  • Mailing to any Supreme Court registry. Contact information for all Supreme Court registries is available here;
  • Faxing to a criminal registry. Fax numbers for all Supreme Court registries are available here; and
  • *NEW* -Using the Secure Drop Box available at Supreme Court registries. The drop box will be accessible to the public from Monday to Friday, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and will be emptied at the end of the day and processed every 24 hours. The drop box will be monitored to ensure its contents are secure during the day. Parties who submit materials for filing using the drop box must provide with the materials a telephone number or email address where they can be reached. Registry staff will contact parties only if their materials are not accepted for filing.

VI. HEARINGS WILL BE SCHEDULED AT SEVEN CENTRALIZED REGISTRIES

Effective March 30, 2020, hearings of the Supreme Court of British Columbia will only be scheduledat the following seven central locations, unless otherwise ordered by the Court:

  • Vancouver Law Courts
  • New Westminster
  • Victoria
  • Kamloops
  • Kelowna
  • Prince George
  • Nanaimo

Hearings will occur by telephone or video where appropriate and available, unless otherwise directed by the Court.

Other registries will continue to receive documents in the manner set out in this notice.

THE FOREGOING IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE. ANY UPDATED DIRECTIONS WILL BE POSTED ON THE COURT’S WEBSITE.

Dated 11 May 2020, at Vancouver, British Columbia

By Direction of Chief Justice Christopher E. Hinkson
Supreme Court of British Columbia

APPENDIX A

Campbell River Monday, May 4th at 10:00am (In Nanaimo)

Chilliwack Monday, May 11th at 2:00pm (In New Westminster)

Courtenay Monday, June 1st at 10:00am

Cranbrook Monday, May 11th at 2:00pm (In Kamloops)

Dawson Creek Monday, May 4th at 10:00am (In Prince George)

Duncan Wednesday, May 6th at 2:00pm (In Victoria)

Fort St. John Monday, May 4th at 10:00am (In Prince George)

Kamloops Monday, May 4th at 2:00pm

Kelowna Monday, May 4th at 10:00am

Nanaimo Monday, May 4th at 2:00pm

Nelson Tuesday, May 19th at 2:00pm (In Kamloops)

New Westminster Thurs., May 7th at 2:00pm or Thurs., May 14 at 2:00pm

Penticton Monday, June 8th at 10:00am

Port Alberni Monday, May 11th at 10:00am (In Nanaimo)

Powell River Monday, May 11th at 10:00am (In Nanaimo)

Prince George Monday, May 11th at 9:30am

Prince Rupert Monday, May 11th at 10:00am (In Victoria)

Quesnel Monday, May 4th at 10:00am (In Prince George)

Revelstoke Monday, May 11th at 10am (In Kamloops)

Rossland Monday, May 4th at 2:00pm (In Kamloops)

Salmon Arm Tuesday, May 12th at 10:00am (In Kamloops)

Smithers Monday, May 4th at 10:00am (In Victoria)

Terrace Tuesday, June 23rd at 10:00am

Vancouver Wed., May 6th at 2:00pm or Wed., May 13th at 2:00pm

Vernon Monday, May 11th at 10:00 am (In Kelowna)

Victoria Wednesday, May 6th at 2:00pm

Williams Lake Monday, May 11th at 10:00am (In Prince George)

APPENDIX B

Campbell River Monday, June 8th at 10:00am

Chilliwack Tuesday, May 19th at 2:00pm (In New Westminster)

Courtenay Monday, June 22nd at 10:00am

Cranbrook Monday, June 8th at 2:00pm

Dawson Creek Monday, May 4th at 10:00am (In Prince George)

Duncan Wednesday, June 3rd (in Victoria) Fort St John

Monday, May 4th at 10:00am (In Prince George)

Kamloops Monday, May 11th at 2:00pm

Kelowna Tuesday, May 19th at 10am

Nanaimo Tuesday, May 19th at 2:00pm

Nelson Monday, June 1st at 2:00pm

New Westminster Thurs., May 28th at 2:00pm or Thurs., June 4th at 2:00pm

Penticton Monday, June 8th at 10:00am

Port Alberni Monday, May 11th at 10:00am (In Nanaimo)

Powell River Monday, May 11th at 10:00am (In Nanaimo)

Prince George Tuesday, May 19th at 9:30am

Prince Rupert Monday, May 11th at 10:00am (In Victoria)

Quesnel Monday, May 4th at 10:00am (In Prince George)

Revelstoke Monday, June 8th at 10:00am

Rossland Monday, June 22nd at 2:00pm

Salmon Arm Tuesday, June 9th at 10:00am

Smithers Monday, May 4th at 10:00am (In Victoria)

Terrace Tuesday, June 23rd at 10:00am

Vancouver Wed., May 27th at 2:00pm or Wed., June 3rd at 2:00pm

Vernon Tuesday, May 19th at 10:00am (In Kelowna)

Victoria Wednesday, June 3rd at 2:00pm

Williams Lake Tuesday, May 19th at 10:00am (In Prince George)

+

As provided in COVID-19 Notice No. 14 – Application by Written Submissions, booking for applications by written submissions can only be done online.  The online booking form is now available here

+

COVID-19 Notice No. 16
Date: May 4, 2020

Effective Monday, May 4, 2020, and during the remainder of the suspension of the Court’s normal operations, pre-trial conferences will be held by telephone for criminal cases where the trial was unable to proceed because of the suspension, or is at risk of being adjourned because of indirect effects of the suspension. These “CV PTCs” have the specific purpose of advancing or resolving adjourned and at-risk cases as much as possible and appropriate.

CV PTCs are mandatory for all criminal cases except for those cases that have been determined to be subject to Criminal Practice Direction 3: Complex Criminal Cases (CPD-3), and are in addition to regularly scheduled pre-trial conferences. The judge conducting the CV PTC may be different than the assigned trial or case management judge.

Booking a CV PTC

  1. Online process

    Effective May 8, 2020, counsel are encouraged to pro-actively book a CV PTC online. Either Crown or defence counsel may book the CV PTC. Before booking online, the requesting party must make efforts to contact the opposing party to determine a mutually agreeable date for the CV PTC. (This Notice will be updated when online booking is available.)

    The requesting party will receive an acknowledgment email confirming the booking and directing the parties to complete and submit materials including the CV PTC form

    Upon receipt of the email confirmation of the booking, the requesting party must forward a copy to opposing counsel. The requesting party must also file a Requisition confirming the date, time and court location.
     
  2. Other Booking Methods

    Before May 8, 2020, or if counsel are unable to book a CV PTC using the online process, counsel may schedule a CV PTC by contacting Supreme Court Scheduling inthe relevant court location. Before doing so, the requesting party must make efforts to contact the opposing party to determine a mutually agreeable date for the CV PTC.

    ​If counsel do not schedule a CV PTC, one will be set at the next fix date appearance for the matter. If the next fix date appearance is not until after the suspension period, the Court will contact the parties to schedule a date for the CV PTC.

Submitting Materials

At least two (2) days before the scheduled CV PTC:

  • Crown counsel must submit a Crown synopsis (if one has not already been submitted) and a CV PTC form by email to Supreme Court Scheduling at the relevant email address identified in Appendix A;
  • Defence counsel must submit a CV PTC form by email to Supreme Court Scheduling at the relevant email address identified in Appendix A; and
  • Each party must also provide a copy of their completed CV PTC form to the other party.

Appearance by Telephone

If the accused is represented by counsel, the accused does not need to attend the CV PTC unless they wish to do so. Counsel and self-represented accused persons who are not in custody must provide Supreme Court Scheduling with the telephone number at which they can be reached for the CV PTC. If a self-represented accused person is in custody, Crown counsel should arrange for the accused to appear by video.

THE FOREGOING IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE. ANY UPDATED DIRECTIONS WILL BE POSTED ON THE COURT’S WEBSITE.

Dated 4 May 2020, at Vancouver, British Columbia

By Direction of Chief Justice Christopher E. Hinkson
Supreme Court of British Columbia

+

COVID-19: SUSPENSION OF REGULAR COURT OPERATIONS

COVID-19 Notice No. 15
Date: May 4, 2020

This notice replaces the following notice by removing the requirement to file draft materials :

  • COVID-19 Notice 6: Suspension of Regular Court Operations in Civil and Family Proceedings (Insolvency), revised April 2, 2020

Effective March 19, 2020 and until further notice, the Honourable Chief Justice Hinkson has suspended regular operations of the Supreme 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.

Courthouses remain open. However, in person registry services have been suspended until further notice. Counsel, parties, litigants and members of the public are strongly discouraged from attending courthouses unless personal attendance is absolutely necessaryor unless the Court otherwise directs.

I. ADJOURNMENT OF CIVIL MATTERS

All civil matters scheduled for hearing between March 19, 2020 and May 29, 2020 are adjourned, unless the Court otherwise directs.This automatic adjournment extends to all trials, conferences,and chambers applications or other hearings currently scheduled for hearing before May 29, 2020.

II. THE COURT WILL HEAR ONLY ESSENTIAL AND URGENT MATTER

While regular operations are suspended the Court will hear only essential and urgent matters.

In the previous Notice issued March 30, 2020 and revised April 16, 2020, various civil matters were presumptively considered to be of an essential orurgent nature. In addition, the following insolvency matters can be considered to be of an essential or urgent nature.

The Court has discretion to hear urgent matters other than those listedbelow, and to decline to hear a matter listed.

III.ESSENTIAL AND URGENT INSOLVENCY MATTERS

The following are examples of insolvency matters that can be essential or urgent:

  1. Shareholder disputes or oppressive conduct that may require some immediate relief under the CBCA/BCA.
  2. An application for an interim and/or final order for an arrangement under the CBCA/BCA.
  3. The appointment of a liquidator, receive, interim receiver or receiver-manager under the CBCA/BCA/BIA/Law and Equity Act of BC.
  4. An application for a bankruptcy order under the BIA.
  5. An application for an initial order under the CCAAor the extension of a stay ofproceedings under the CCAA.
  6. An application for relief specific to restructuring procedures in a context of proceedings under the BIA or CCAA, such as authorization of a sale of assets, interim financing, claims process orders, adjudication of claims, meeting orders and sanction orders.g.A time-sensitive application in a foreclosure proceeding, such as approval of a sale.

IV. PROCEDURES FOR ESSENTIAL OR URGENT MATTERS

The Court has established procedures to allow for parties to request the hearing of essential or urgent insolvency matters.

The online process is to be used where possible. The paper process is to be used if it is not possible to use the online process. For example, if a court file is sealed, the online process cannot be used and paper filings will be necessary. In addition, there is a size 3limit of 10MB for documents submitted through CSO or email,which may require documents to be sent in stages or filed by the paper process.

In both processes, a judge will first review the applicant’s Request for Urgent Hearing form to determine if a hearing is required. If the judge determines that a hearing is required, the Court will give further directions to both the applicant and the respondent(s).

A. Requesting a Hearing – Online Process (use if possible)

  • The party requesting a hearing of an essential or urgent matter completes and submits an online Request for Urgent Hearing-InsolvencyForm (“Request Form”).

    https://www.bccourts.ca/supreme_court/scheduling/Request_for_Urgent_Insolvency/
     
  • The Court sends the parties an Acknowledgment Email confirming receipt of the Request Form and notifying all parties of the request.
  • Once the Request Form has been received, it will be sent to the reviewing judge.
  • The respondent does not provide any materials to the Court at this stage.

B. Requesting a Hearing – Paper Process (Use if you cannot use Online Process)

  • The party requesting a hearing completes a paper copy of the Request Form. Paper copies of the Request Form are available at every Supreme Court registryand are located next to the drop boxinside the courthouse. If possible, the party must provide a telephone number and/or email address at which they may be reached.
  • The completed Request Form must be sent together to the Court in one of the following ways:
    • By using the drop box located at the nearest Supreme Courtregistry;
    • By mailing it to the nearest Supreme Court registry; or
    • By faxing it to one of the designated registries described in Appendix A.
  • See Part VII of this notice,Changes to Registry Services,for further details about submitting these documents.
  • The respondent does not provide any materials to the Court at this stage.

C. Judge’s Determination of Whether a Hearing is Required

  • A judge will review the Request Form submitted bythe party requesting a hearing (either by way of the online process or the paper process) and will determine whetheran urgent hearing is required.
  • The judge’s determination of whether or not a hearing is required will be communicated to all parties:
    • Parties using the online process will receive an email notification;or
    • Parties using the paper process will be contacted atthe contact information provided on the Request Form.

D. Instructions for Filing Materials

  • If the judge determines that a hearing is required, the Court will schedule a date for the hearing.
  • If necessary, the Court will provide directions to all parties about filing and service of materials for the hearing. See Part VII of this notice, Changes to Registry Services, for further details for filing these materials.

E. Conduct of Hearing

  • Parties will appear at the hearing by telephone where possible and appropriate or by video where appropriate and available.

V. LIMITATION PERIODS AND FILING DEADLINES

A. Filing Timelines under the Supreme Court Rules

Effective March 18, 2020, filing deadlines under the Supreme Court Civil Rules and the Supreme Court Family Rules are now suspended until May 29, 2020.

B. Limitation Periods

Effective March 26, 2020, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General suspended limitation periods and mandatory time periods for the commencement of a civil or family proceeding. See Ministerial Order No. M086. Once this suspension is lifted, more directions will be provided by the Court.

VI. CHANGES TO REGISTRY SERVICES

Courthouse registries are no longer providing in-person servicesduring the suspension of the Court’s regular operations.

However, all courthouses will continue to receive documents for any civil matters.

Requests for an urgent hearing should, where possible, be made using the online process described above. However, the following methods may be used by any person unable to use that online process.

For the following situations:

  1. Requests for an urgent hearing where a person is unable to use the online process established by the Court;
  2. Filing of materials as directed by the Court for a scheduled urgent hearing; and
  3. Regular filings that are not defined as essential or urgent;

documents may be submitted to the registry by one of the methodsset out below.

  • E-filing using Court Services Online;
  • Fax Filing at a registry designated as a fax filing registry by Supreme Court Civil Rule 23-2 or Supreme Court Family Rule 22-3. See Appendix A for a list of fax filing registries and the fax numbers;
  • Mailing to any Supreme Court registry. Contact information for all Supreme Court registries is available here;and
  • *NEW* - Using the Secure Drop Box available at Supreme Court registries. The drop box will be accessible to the public from Monday to Friday, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and will be emptied at the end of the day and processed every 24 hours. The drop box will be monitored to ensure its contents are secure during the day. Parties who submit materials for filing using the drop box must provide with the materials a telephone number or email address where they can be reached. Registry staff will contact parties only if their materials are not accepted for filing.

VII. HEARINGS WILL BE SCHEDULED AT SEVEN CENTRALIZED REGISTRIES

Effective March 30, 2020, hearings of the Supreme Court of British Columbia will only be scheduled at the following seven central locations, unless otherwise ordered by the Court:

  • Vancouver Law Courts
  • New Westminster
  • Victoria
  • Kamloops
  • Kelowna
  • Prince George
  • Nanaimo

Hearings will occur by telephone or video where appropriate and available, unless otherwise directed by the Court.

Other registries will continue to receive documents in the manner set out in this notice.

THE FOREGOING IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE. ANY UPDATED DIRECTIONS WILL BE POSTED ON THE COURT’S WEBSITE.

Dated May 4, 2020, at Vancouver, British Columbia

By Direction of Chief Justice Christopher E. Hinkson
Supreme Court of British Columbia

Appendix A – Fax Filing Registries

Chilliwack (604) 795-8397

Cranbrook (250) 426-1498

Dawson Creek (250) 784-2218

Kamloops (250) 828-4345

Kelowna (250) 979-6768

Nelson (250) 354-6133

Penticton (250) 492-1290

Prince George (250) 614-7923

Rossland (250) 362-7321

Salmon Arm (250) 833-7401

Smithers (250) 847-7344

Terrace (250) 638-2143

Vernon (250) 549-5461

Williams Lake (250) 398-4264

+

On March 18, 2020 I announced the suspension of the Supreme Court’s regular operations in criminal, civil and family matters to protect the health and safety of court users and to help contain the spread of COVID-19. The Court shifted its focus and efforts to ensuring that it could continue to provide for the adjudication of urgent and essential matters including bail, detention reviews, family law applications (e.g., parenting time and support issues), protection orders, emergency health care orders, preservation of property, etc.

Since then, the Court, supported by its judicial staff and by other courthouse staff, have worked tirelessly to expand the types of hearings that can proceed including developing a process for single issue applications to be dealt with by telephone conferences and to expand the use of applications by written submissions. The Court has also continued to conduct a variety of pre-trial conferences in criminal, civil and family proceedings and continues to explore options to provide more services that do not jeopardize the health and well-being of court users including the use of web-based videoconferencing solutions.

The Court has long been aware of the need to upgrade court technology in order to increase the Court’s ability to provide remote and online access to justice. Over the years, numerous and repeated requests have been made to government to make the necessary and appropriate investments in this area. Prior to this pandemic, the Court was working with the Ministry of Attorney General to develop a digital strategy for the courts which had a timeline of three to four years for full adoption. COVID-19 has certainly highlighted the urgent and pressing need to compress that timeline. To date, however, request for the financial investments necessary to make the strategy a reality have gone unanswered.

The Court faces many challenges in adapting its processes to realize the efficiencies promised by the increased availability of electronic filing and tools such as videoconferencing technology and evidence presentation systems. The lack of sufficient and effective tools has been hampering the Court’s ability to adapt its processes. Prior to and since the outbreak of the pandemic, the Court has been investigating new and different ways to employ technology to conduct hearings, receive evidence and documents and to facilitate access to the Court’s proceedings for the public and media. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the Court’s efforts in this area, but the work has been ongoing for some time.

I am acutely aware of the tremendous hardships that the suspension of regular operations causes for court users most notably accused persons and litigants.

The decision to suspend regular operations was a difficult one. The Court has a constitutional obligation to provide access to justice; however, the unprecedented public health concerns meant that the continued attendance of the public to serve on jury trials or as parties, witnesses or counsel was untenable. I am also mindful that the suspension of regular operations has created a backlog of adjourned cases which gets larger every day. The Court continues to do all that it presently can do, to move matters forward. Some hearings have proceeded with appropriate physical distancing measures put in place or by teleconference or video. In exploring the ways to increase the public’s access to the Court during the pandemic, there are legislative requirements that limit the Court’s options to adjust it processes (e.g., requirements in the Criminal Code). Despite these limitations, the Court has and will continue to work to increase its capacity to conduct virtual proceedings by video and telephone in order to allow the members of the Court to hear matters remotely.

+

On March 19, 2020 the Supreme Court of British Columbia suspended regular operations to protect the health and safety of court users and to help contain the spread of COVID-19. All civil and family matters scheduled for hearing between March 19, 2020 and May 29, 2020 (the “Suspension Period”) have been adjourned, unless the Court otherwise directed. The Court established processes to hear urgent or essential matters, to hold telephone conference hearings for certain matters, and continues to process some desk order applications.

Effective April 22, 2020, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General authorized the Chief Justice and the Associate Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia to dispense with some procedural steps under the Supreme Court Civil Rules and the Supreme Court Family Rules related to applications, where the procedural steps cannot reasonably be taken because of the COVID-19 pandemic or would be inconsistent with public health advisories. See Ministerial Order No. M121.

To facilitate the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of proceedings during the Suspension Period, Chief Justice Hinkson has directed that parties may bring the applications described in Part I of this notice by written submissions following the process set out in Part II of this notice.

Accordingly, effective April 27, 2020, until the conclusion of the state of emergency ordered by the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, the Chief Justice ordered that the following requirements do not apply to applications that meet the criteria set out in Part I of this notice:

  • The requirement in Rule 8-6 of the Supreme Court Civil Rules that an order must be made at a case planning conference before parties can make an application by written submissions; and
  • The requirement in Rule 7-1(2) of the Supreme Court Family Rules that a judicial case conference must be held before a party can serve another party a notice of application or affidavit in support.

I. APPLICATIONS THAT CAN BE MADE BY WRITTEN SUBMISSIONS

A partymaybring an applicationby way of written submissionsin lieu of a hearing if:

  • The matter is limited to one disputed issue; and
  • The issue can be addressed on the basis of one affidavit filed per party, no more than 10 pages in length, inclusive of exhibits.

If the matter involves more than one disputed issue, a party may bring an application by way of written submissionsin lieu of a hearing if:

  • The parties have reached consent on all but one issue,or the party bringing the application has identified all of the disputed issues and chosen one issue to proceed by written submissions; and
  • The issue can be addressed on the basis of one affidavit filed per party, no more than 10 pages in length, inclusive of exhibits.

If the application relates to a family law issue that requires filing a financial statement in Form 8 pursuant to Rule 5-1 of the Supreme Court Family Rules, each party may also rely on either a previously filed financial statement (if it contains current, accurate and complete information) or a new financial statement filed as part of the application, but not both.

The Court retains its discretion to decide if the issue is appropriate for determination on the basis of written submissions.

II. PROCESS FOR MAKING AN APPLICATION BY WRITTEN SUBMISSIONS

The Court has established the following procedures to allowapartyto bringan applicationby written submissions.

  • Before making an application by written submissions, parties are encouraged to discuss ways of narrowing the issue so that it is suitable for determination by written submissions.
  • If no judge or master is seized of or assigned to the matter, the Applicant must book a date for a judge or master to consider the application by written submissions (a “Hearing Date”) by booking online. (Online booking is expected to be available by May 8, 2020.)
  • If a judge or master is seized of or assigned to the matter, the Applicant must submit a Request to Appear Before a Specific Judge/Master located here to request that the application for written submissions is considered by that specific presider. The Applicant should note “Application by Written Submissions” in the field marked “Type of Hearing”.

A. Filing and Service of Materials

  • The Applicant must file a notice of application in Form 32 for a civil matter or in Form F31 for a family matter, not exceeding 10 pages, with the modifications below:
    • Rather than setting out the place of the hearing and providing a time estimate, the Applicant must set out the Hearing Date (as booked online) and note that the application is being made by written submissionsin lieu of an oral or telephone hearing;
    • If the matter was previously set down for a hearing, the Applicant must note the date on which the matter was originally scheduled to be heard andprovidea brief description of the matter (i.e., trial, conference, chambers application, other hearing);
    • The Applicant must note whether a judge or master has been assigned to or is seized of the proceedings;
    • In Part 1 (Order(s) Sought), using numbered paragraphs, the Applicant must list any other issue(s) still in dispute, and indicate if any issue will be proceeding by consent;and
    • In Part 4 (Material to be Relied on), using numbered paragraphs, the Applicant mustlist thesingleaffidavitserved with the notice of application, the financial statement if applicablefor a family law matter,and any otherpleadings already in the court file on which the Applicant will rely. Parties may not rely on previously filed affidavits(except, if applicable, in a family law matter where the party wants to rely on a previously filed financial statement).
  • The Applicant mustfile one sworn affidavit, not exceeding 10 pages, inclusive of exhibits, setting out the key facts of the issue.
  • If applicable in a family law matter, the Applicant must file one sworn financial statement in Form F8 (unless relying on a previously filed financial statement that is current, accurate and complete).
  • The Applicant must serve copies of the filed notice of application, this Notice, filed affidavit, filedfinancial statement (if any) and written submissions not exceeding 20pages on the Respondent.
  • If the Respondent wishes to respond to the Applicant’s notice of application, notwithstanding the usual timeframes for responding to a notice of application in Rule 8-1(9)of the Supreme Court Civil Rules and Rule 10-6(8.1) of the Supreme Court Family Rules, the Respondent must do the following within 10 business days after service:
    • File one sworn affidavit (if any), not exceeding 10 pages, inclusive of exhibits, in response to the Applicant’s affidavit;
    • If applicable in a family law matter, file one sworn financial statement in Form F8 (unless relying on a previously filed financial statement that is current, accurate and complete);
    • File an application response in Form 33 for a civil matter and Form F32 for a family matter. In Part I, 2 or 3, the Respondent must indicate whether the Respondent consents to the application proceeding on the basis of written submissions. In Part 6 (Material to be Relied on), using numbered paragraphs, the Respondent mustlist the single affidavit, the financial statement if applicable; and any otherpleadings already in the court file on which the Respondent will rely. Parties may not rely on previously filed affidavits (except, if applicable, in a family law matter where the party wants to rely on a previously filed financial statement); and
    • Serve copiesof the filed application response, filed affidavit, filedfinancial statement (if any) and written submissions not exceeding 20 pages on the Applicant.
  • For methods of filing see Part VII of the Court’s April 16, 2020 Notice. Parties are encouraged to e-file if possible.
  • Within 4 business days afterbeing served with the Respondent’s materials, the Applicant may serve written submissions in reply not exceeding 5 pages on the Respondent.The Applicant may not file any responding affidavits.
  • The parties may agree to abridge the timelines set out above.

B. Written Submission Brief 

  • The Applicant must submit the Written Submissions Brief to Supreme Court Scheduling at the appropriate email address (as set out in Appendix A of this Notice) not later than 4:00 p.m. on the business day that is one full business daybefore the Hearing Date. All parties must be copied on this email.
  • The Written Submissions Briefmust include:
    • A copy of the filednotice of application;
    • A copy of the filed application response;
    • A copy of the Applicant’s filed affidavit and written submissions;
    • A copy of the Respondent’s filed affidavit and written submissions in response, if any;
    • A copy of the Applicant’s financial statement, if applicable in a family law matter;
    • A copy of the Respondent’s financial statement, if applicable in a family law matter;
    • The Applicant’s written submissions in reply, if any; and
    • Any pleadings relied on by the parties.
  • The Written Submissions Brief must not include copies of authorities, including case law, legislation, legal articles or excerpts from text books. Instead, written submissions must refer to authorities by case name, and must include the citation, pinpoint reference and hyperlinks to an open source, such as CanLII or Lexum. Written submissions should not include lengthy quotations from cases.

C. Judge or Master Considers the Application by Written Submission 

  • Supreme Court Scheduling will acknowledge receipt of the Written Submissions Brief via email to all parties, and confirm which judge or master will consider the application.
  • A judge or master will review the Written Submissions Brief and make a decision on the merits of the issue.If the issue is not appropriate for determination on the basis of written submissions or if the materials in the Written Submissions Brief are insufficient, the judge or master may provide further direction to the parties (e.g., with respect to filing additional materials or setting a date forthe parties to speak to the matter by telephone).

THE FOREGOING IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE. ANY UPDATED DIRECTIONS WILL BE POSTED ON THE COURT’S WEBSITE.

Dated April 27,2020 at Vancouver, British Columbia

By Direction of Chief Justice Christopher E. Hinkson
Supreme Court of British Columbia

Appendix A

KAMLOOPS - sc.scheduling_ka@BCCourts.ca

  • Cranbrook, Golden, Nelson, Revelstoke, Rossland, Salmon Arm

KELOWNA - sc.scheduling_ok@BCCourts.ca

  • Penticton, Vernon

NANAIMO - sc.scheduling_na@BCCourts.ca

  • Campbell River, Courtenay, Port Alberni, Powell River

NEW WEST - sc.scheduling_nw@BCCourts.ca

  • Chilliwack

PRINCE GEORGE - sc.scheduling_pg@BCCourts.ca

  • Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Quesnel, Williams Lake

VANCOUVER - sc.family_va@BCCourts.ca OR sc.civil_va@BCCourts.ca

VICTORIA - sc.scheduling_vi@BCCourts.ca

  • Duncan, Prince Rupert, Smithers, Terrace
+

This notice replaces COVID-19 Notice No. 9, dated April 17, 2020

On March 19, 2020 the Supreme Court of British Columbia suspended regular operations to protect the health and safety of court users and to help contain the spread of COVID-19. All civil and family matters scheduled for hearing between March 19, 2020 and May 1, 2020 (the “Suspension Period”) were adjourned, unless the Court otherwise directed. This automatic adjournment extended to all trials, conferences, chambers applications and other hearings. The Court established a process to hear only urgent or essential matters.

On April 16, 2020 the Court extended the Suspension Period to May 29, 2020.

Effective April 20, 2020, in an effort to expand the civil and family matters that can be dealt with at this time, the Court has established procedures to allow parties to schedule a COVID-19 Telephone Conference Hearing (“TCH”) for matters that are not urgent or essential (as specified in the Court’s April 16, 2020 Notice) and that were scheduled for hearing during the Suspension Period.

At each TCH, parties will be limited to addressing one disputed issue or to bringingforward issues on which they have consent. The issue(s) must be suitable for determination by telephone and on the basis of one affidavit per party no longer than 10 pages each. TCHs will be limited to one hour in length.

At this time, this process is only available to parties who had a matter scheduled for hearing during the Suspension Period. Subject to available resources, the Court may at a later date expand the availability of the TCH process to matters that were not scheduled during the Suspension Period.

I. MATTERS THAT ARE ELIGIBLE FOR A COVID-19 TELEPHONE CONFERENCE HEARING

Parties who had a matter scheduled for hearing during the Suspension Period (i.e., between March 19, 2020 and May 29, 2020) may schedule a TCH for matters that meet the following criteria:

  • The matter is limited to one disputed issue, or (if the matter involves more than one issue) the parties have reached consent on some or all of the issues;
  • The disputed issue is suitable for determination by telephone and is estimated to take less than one hour; and
  • The disputed issue can be addressed on the basis of a single affidavit filed per party, no longer than 10 pages.

The Court has discretion to decide if a matter scheduled by the parties is not appropriate for determination at a TCH.

No matter may proceed if any party or counsel is unable to participate or is impeded from participating as a result of COVID-19.

II. SCHEDULING A COVID-19 TELEPHONE CONFERENCE HEARING

The Court has established the following procedures to allow parties to schedule a TCH:

  • Before scheduling a TCH, the party seeking a TCH (“Scheduling Party”) must make efforts to contact the opposing party (“Responding Party”) to determine a mutually agreeable date for the TCH. Parties are encouraged to discuss ways of narrowing the disputed issue to make best use of the TCH.
  • If not judge or master is seized of or assigned to the matter, the Scheduling Party must set a date for a TCH by booking online.
  • If a judge or master is seized of or assigned to the matter, the Scheduling Party must submit a Request to Appear Before a Specific Judge/Master located here to request a TCH before that specific presider.The Scheduling Party should note “TCH” in the field marked “Type of Hearing.”.
  • The Scheduling Party must complete a COVID-19 Telephone Conference Hearing Form (“Form”) located here.
  • The Scheduling Party must complete all parts of the Form including:
    • The date on which the matter was originally scheduled to be heard;
    • What was originally scheduled to be heard (i.e., trial, conference, chambers application, other hearing);
    • A brief description of the disputed issue;
    • The order(s) sought at the TCH;
    • Any other issues still in dispute;oWhether any issues will be proceeding by consent; oWhether all parties consent to the date of the TCH; and
    • A list of documents to be relied on at the TCH, including pleadings (e.g., petition, response to petition, notice of civil or family claim, response to civil or family claim, reply, counterclaim, response to counterclaim, third party notice, and/or response to third party notice).
  • If the TCH is to address a disputed issue, the Scheduling Party must file onesworn affidavit, not exceeding 10 pages, inclusive of exhibits setting out the key facts of the disputed issue to be addressed at the TCH. For methods of filing see Part VII of COVID-19 Notice No. 8. Parties are encouraged to e-file if possible.
  • The Scheduling Party must serve the completed Form, a copy of this Notice, a sworn affidavit (if filed), and any written submissions not exceeding 10 pages on the Responding Party 8 business days before the TCH.
  • If the TCH is to address a disputed issue, the Responding Party may file onesworn affidavit, not exceeding 10 pages, inclusive of exhibits, in response to the Scheduling Party’s affidavit. For methods of filing see Part VII of the Court’s April 16, 2020 Notice. Parties are encouraged to e-file if possible.
  • The Responding Party must serve its sworn affidavit (if filed) and any written submissions in response not exceeding 10 pages on the Scheduling Party 5business days before the TCH.
  • The Scheduling Party must submit a TCH Brief by email to Supreme Court Scheduling at the appropriate email address (as set out in Appendix A of this Notice) no later than 4 p.m. on the business day that is one full business day before the date set for the TCH. All parties must be copied on this email. The TCH Brief must include:
    • the completed Form;
    • the Scheduling Party’s affidavit (if filed) and written submissions (if any);
    • the Respondent Party’s affidavit (if filed) and written submissions (if any); and
    • any pleadings that will be relied on at the TCH.
  • Supreme Court Scheduling will confirm the date of the TCH via email to all parties.
  • The parties may agree to abridge the timelines for service on each other, provided the Scheduling Party still submits the TCH Brief to Supreme Court Scheduling no later than 4 p.m. on the business day that is one full business day before the date set for the TCH.
  • If the Scheduling Party does not submit the TCH Brief to Supreme Court Scheduling by 4 p.m. on the business day that is one full business day before the date set for the TCH, the date will be removed from the hearing list.

THE FOREGOING IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE. ANY UPDATED DIRECTIONS WILL BE POSTED ON THE COURT’S WEBSITE.

Dated April 24, 2020 at Vancouver, British Columbia

By Direction of Chief Justice Christopher E. Hinkson
Supreme Court of British Columbia

Appendix A

KAMLOOPS - sc.scheduling_ka@BCCourts.ca

  • Cranbrook, Golden, Nelson, Revelstoke, Rossland, Salmon Arm

KELOWNA - sc.scheduling_ok@BCCourts.ca

  • Penticton, Vernon

NANAIMO - sc.scheduling_na@BCCourts.ca

  • Campbell River, Courtenay, Port Alberni, Powell River

NEW WEST - sc.scheduling_nw@BCCourts.ca

  • Chilliwack

PRINCE GEORGE - sc.scheduling_pg@BCCourts.ca

  • Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Quesnel, Williams Lake

VANCOUVER - sc.family_va@BCCourts.ca OR sc.civil_va@BCCourts.ca

VICTORIA - sc.scheduling_vi@BCCourts.ca

  • Duncan, Prince Rupert, Smithers, Terrace
 
+

This notice replaces the Notice of E-Filing and Desk Order Applications dated April 21, 2020.

On March 19, 2020 the Supreme Court of British Columbia suspended regular operations to protect the health and safety of court users and to help contain the spread of COVID-19. All civil and family matters scheduled for hearing between March 19, 2020 and May 29, 2020 (the “Suspension Period”) have been adjourned, unless the Court otherwise directed. The Court has established processes to hear urgent or essential matters, as well as certain other matters, during the Suspension Period.

Effective April 20, 2020, in an effort to increase the ease of e-filing, Court Services Online will also allow e-filing through the use of a Basic BCeID account. More information can be found here.

Information about other methods of filing is available here.

The Court encourages the use of e-filing for the civil and family applications set out below, which continue to be processed during the Suspension Period.

Family Desk Order Applications:

  • Consent applications pursuant to Rule 10-7, Supreme Court Family Rules;
  • Applications of which notice is not required pursuant to Rule 10-8, Supreme Court Family Rules;
  • Final orders in undefended family law cases pursuant to Rule 10-10, Supreme Court Family Rules, for only the following undefended family law cases:
    • The family case is a joint family law case and no party has filed a notice of withdrawal;
    • A response to family claim was filed but has been withdrawn or struck out;
    • A response to family claim and a counterclaim have been filed but the notice of family claim and any response to counterclaim have been
      • Withdrawn, or
      • Struck out, discontinued, or dismissed;
    • All claims other than a claim for divorce, if any, have been settled, the parties have filed a statement to that effect signed by the parties or their lawyers and the claim for divorce, if any, is not contested.

    Applications pursuant to Family Practice Direction 14 – Adoption Applications cannot be submitted via e-filing. However, they can be processed by mail and drop box filing. More information about these methods of filing is available here.

    Civil Desk Order Applications:

    • Consent applications pursuant to Rule 8-3, Supreme Court Civil Rules;
    • Applications of which notice is not required pursuant to Rule 8-4, Supreme Court Civil Rules;
    • Requisition Proceedings under Rule 2-1(2) brought pursuant to Rule 17-1, Supreme Court Civil Rules.

    Applications That Cannot Be Processed:

    Default orders on applications that would ordinarily be deemed unopposed because a response has not been filed within the prescribed time period cannot be processed during the Suspension Period, regardless of the method of filing, unless the time to file a response expired before the Suspension Period began.

    In particular, the Court cannot process:

    • Undefended family law cases where no response to family claim has been filed;
    • Uncontested adoption applications where a party received notice of the application, but has not filed a response;
    • Uncontested probate applications; or
    • Default judgments.

    To reduce delays in resolving civil and family matters, the Court encourages counsel and the public to access alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.

    THE FOREGOING IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE. ANY UPDATED DIRECTIONS WILL BE POSTED ON THE COURT’S WEBSITE.

    Dated April 24, 2020 at Vancouver, British Columbia

    By Direction of Chief Justice Christopher E. Hinkson
    Supreme Court of British Columbia

     

Provincial Court of BC
+

In order to help minimize the spread of COVID-19, the Provincial Court of BC is holding urgent family, child protection, and small claims hearings by telephone instead of in person. We are also working towards being able to offer some hearings using video technology, when that is appropriate for the parties involved and their case.

The Court has issued guidelines for people taking part in telephone or video hearings, and this eNews explains some of the procedures a judge may use in these hearings.

Technology

We are now holding urgent hearings by telephone, but we are working on being able to hold video hearings as well, using Microsoft Teams. Once we have that capability and until in-person hearings can resume, the judge will decide whether to conduct your urgent hearing:

  • by telephone
  • using Microsoft Teams, an online platform for an audio hearing (sound only)
  • using Microsoft Teams for a video hearing (sound and video images)

In this article, we’ll use the term “remote” to refer to a hearing held in any of these ways.

The Court’s Guide to Remote Proceedings (telephone and video) NP21 contains advice on how to use your telephone for a hearing. It also contains a step-by-step guide to connecting and using Microsoft Teams (see Appendix “A”), for use once we begin conducting hearings this way.

Conduct expected

Everyone taking part in a telephone or video hearing should read the Court’s Guide to Remote Proceedings (telephone and video) NP21. It contains advice on etiquette and guidelines for taking part in a remote hearing.

Evidence

The evidence a judge will consider in a remote hearing will consist of any affidavits (written statements that are sworn or affirmed to be true) and other documents that have been filed (sent to the court), provided the judge considers them relevant to the issues in the hearing.

If you have provided an affidavit that has not been sworn or affirmed, the judge will probably ask you to swear or affirm that it is true during the hearing.

In some cases the judge will permit spoken testimony to be given during a remote hearing. That means a party or witness will take an oath or affirm to tell the truth and then talk about relevant facts. They may be questioned by their lawyer if they have one, the judge, and/or by the other party or their lawyer.

Procedure

When one or both parties are representing themselves, the judge may adjust traditional courtroom procedures to meet the needs of the people taking part and the limitations imposed by the telephone or video format.

If both parties have lawyers, the procedure may be more like a courtroom hearing. See these articles on family and small claims hearings for information on traditional courtroom procedures and how they are sometimes modified:

Whatever procedure is used, the hearing will have a structure to ensure it is fair, complete and orderly. The judge needs to get all the important information from both parties in a logical way.

A telephone or video hearing may include some or all of these steps. The judge may:

  • ask everyone taking part to introduce themselves, spell their first and last names, and confirm their mail and/or email address (If you have security concerns about revealing your address, tell the judge.)
  • ask if anyone other than the parties and their lawyers is present or listening (In a family court matter, children should not be able to hear any part of a remote hearing.)
  • confirm that no one is recording the hearing (You are not permitted to audio- or video-record any portion of a telephone hearing. The BC Courts’ Policy on the Use of Electronic Devices sets out penalties for recording, including prosecution. If you need a transcript of a hearing, it is possible to order one from the transcription service for your court registry.)
  • explain the procedure they intend to use and explain the order in which the parties or their lawyers will speak
  • impose time limits to ensure everyone has a chance to be heard during the time available
  • tell you which written materials they have received and will be considering (If the judge doesn’t mention this, you may ask.)
  • if anyone has filed an affidavit that has not been sworn or affirmed to be true, ask them to swear or affirm that it is true
  • if anyone will be testifying, ask them to swear or affirm that their evidence will be true, or ask the court clerk to have them swear or affirm
  • ask questions during the hearing to help them understand each party’s case
  • state their decision and explain it at the end of the hearing (In some cases, a judge may need more time to consider their decision. If so, they will tell you how you will receive their decision and reasons.)

Whatever procedure is used, each party will have a chance to speak, say what they’re asking for, and explain why. If there are important questions you think the other party should be asked, tell the judge. Depending on the circumstances, the judge may not permit the parties to question each other, but you can ask the judge to ask the other party important questions.

+

Our court is working hard to expand our use of technology so that we can hold more remote hearings and case conferences during this challenging time. We are working with the government to expand audioconference and videoconference capacity and to enhance bandwidth. Our team has been engaged with a number of our judges as we start using MS Teams for some criminal pre-trial conferences and bail hearings. We have also issued NP 21 Guide to Remote Proceedings which provides guidelines for anyone who will appear before the Provincial Court for a hearing or case conference conducted by audioconference (including telephone or Microsoft Teams) or videoconference (including Microsoft Teams); and a step-by-step guide to appearing in a Microsoft Teams audioconference or videoconference proceeding.

While we are committed to the use of technology, we recognize that expanded use of technology can only occur when we are able to ensure that we maintain the public’s confidence in our ability to manage and hold fair hearings using new technology. We also have to take into account the fact that many of the parties who appear in Provincial Court do not have access to devices or internet plans that would permit them to access the courts remotely. We thank everyone for their patience as we move forward in a way that ensures equal access to the court and enhances confidence in the administration of justice.

+

Effective Date: 07 May 2020
NP 21

NOTICE TO THE PROFESSION AND PUBLIC
GUIDE TO REMOTE PROCEEDINGS

Purpose

In light of the extraordinary circumstances during the current public health emergency, and as described in NP 19 COVID-19: Commencing Recovery of Some Court Operations, all court proceedings will be held remotely by audioconference or videoconference until further notice, unless otherwise ordered by a judge. Although the court proceeding is taking place remotely and judges, parties, lawyers, and court staff may attend by audioconference or videoconference, it remains a formal setting.

This Notice provides information for anyone who will appear before the Provincial Court for a remote proceeding beginning May 7, 2020 until further notice. In this Notice, the term “remote proceeding” means a hearing or case conference conducted by audioconference (including telephone or Microsoft Teams) or videoconference (including Microsoft Teams).

A step-by-step guide to appearing in a Microsoft Teams audioconference or videoconference proceeding is attached as Appendix “A”. It contains detailed information about connecting to and managing a Microsoft Teams audioconference or videoconference. Review the guide carefully before your matter proceeds.

Notice

Remote Proceeding Etiquette

In some ways, the behaviour expected of people appearing remotely is the same as if they were actually in a courtroom. However, conducting a proceeding fairly and effectively by audioconference or videoconference requires some modification to etiquette and behaviour. The following list is not exhaustive, but provides some guidelines for the best practices to follow during a remote conference or hearing:

  1. For audioconference and videoconference proceedings
    1. No recording: You are not permitted to audio- or video-record any portion of a remote proceeding. The BC Courts’ Policy on the Use of Electronic Devices sets out penalties for recording, including prosecution. If you need a transcript of a hearing, it is possible to order one from the transcription service from the court registry.
    2. Location: The Court understands that you do not have the advantage of appearing in a controlled courtroom environment. You may be participating from a small, shared living space. Please make reasonable efforts to find a quiet, private space with a neutral background for your court appearance.
    3. Mute microphone: To minimize background noise, mute your microphone when you are not speaking. If you are using a computer, close applications on your computer, such as Twitter, Facebook, and email, that are not needed so you are not interrupted during the proceeding. Also, put your cell phone to silent mode.
    4. Introductions: When you first join the remote proceeding, identify yourself (and who you represent, if applicable).
    5. Speak clearly and slowly: Remember to unmute before speaking. Speak clearly and slowly enough for everyone to follow what you are saying. Pause frequently to allow the judge to ask questions and avoid speaking over the judge or other participants. This is particularly important when there is an interpreter. Mute the microphone again when done speaking. Follow the judge’s directions about when to speak or ask questions.
    6. Objecting, responding or commenting: If you find it necessary to object to, respond to, or comment on something that an opposing party has said and it cannot wait:
      • if on video, raise your hand to signal to the judge that you wish to speak; and
      • if on audio, respectfully interrupt the conversation when appropriate to let the judge know that you have something to say.
    7. Forms of address: A Provincial Court Judge is called “Your Honour”. The other party and/or their lawyer is addressed as Ms. or Mr. with their last name.
    8. Time limits: Time limits may have been set in advance, or the judge may set them during the conference or hearing. You must follow them to make sure everyone has a fair chance to be heard.
    9. Materials: Collect and organize the documents you will need in advance, and make sure you have them with you for the hearing or conference.
    10. Use pen and paper: Take notes with a pen and paper. The sound of typing can be distracting, and make it hard to hear others. Avoid shuffling papers as that also can be distracting.
    11. No food or drink: As in a courtroom, do not eat or drink anything but water during the proceeding.
  2. For audioconference proceedings
    1. ​Answering the call from the Court: Telephone hearings are recorded by the Court. When you answer the court clerk’s call, introduce yourself by saying your first and last name. The court clerk will note the names of all the parties and lawyers attending the hearing on the court record.
    2. Say your name whenever you start speaking. At an audioconference proceeding, it can be hard to know which person is talking.
    3. Audio connection: If using a telephone, a land line works better than a cell phone. In either case, do not use the speaker phone function. Instead, use a hand-held phone or use a set of headphones with a built-in mic and mute feature. If possible, avoid the use of VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol).
  3. For videoconference proceedings
    1. ​Dress appropriately: Judges will be dressed as they would for any settlement or family case conference to reflect the professionalism of the Court. Dress as if you are attending an in-person proceeding in a courtroom. Click on the link for more information on how to dress for court.
    2. Arrive early: You should be prepared to join the videoconference proceeding at least 15 minutes before the start of the proceeding, to allow time to address any technical issues. Before the videoconference proceeding starts, you will enter a virtual waiting room and remain there until the proceeding begins.
    3. Use your name when prompted for a screen name: When you join the videoconference proceeding, you will be asked to enter your name. The name that you enter will be displayed for all participants to see. Type your first and last name.
    4. Sitting and Standing: You do not need to stand when the videoconference proceeding starts or ends, and you can remain seated when addressing the judge.
    5. Bowing: You do not need to bow at any time during the videoconference proceeding.
    6. Focus on your camera: Direct eye contact is important. When speaking, look into the camera rather than at the person(s) that you are speaking to.
    7. Technical difficulties: If the image and sound quality is interrupted, ask whether other participants can still hear you. If so, continue speaking as the image will reappear once bandwidth returns to normal. If problems continue, it may be necessary for some of the participants to turn off their video. If the session ends unexpectedly, please try re-connecting. If the Microsoft Teams platform is not working, the presiding judge will advise the applicable JCM who will then contact the parties and provide Telus teleconference dial-in details so all parties may continue the proceeding by dialing in from any telephone.

History of Notice to the Profession and Public

  • Original Notice to the Profession and Public issued and effective on May 7, 2020.

Melissa Gillespie
Chief Judge
Provincial Court of British Columbia

Download the Full NP 21 with Appendices
+

Effective Date: 28 April 2020 (unless otherwise stated in this Notice)
NP 19 Revisions in red

This Notice to the Profession (NP 19) replaces Notice to the Profession and Public COVID-19:
Suspension of Regular Court Operations (NP 19)

NOTICE TO THE PROFESSION AND PUBLIC COVID-19:
COMMENCING RECOVERY OF SOME COURT OPERATIONS

The Provincial Court of British Columbia recognizes that the Province is still impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and there are continued public health recommendations to stay home as much as possible and keep a safe distance from others. Taking this into account, the Court has developed the plan set out in this Notice to commence recovery of some court operations that can be done remotely by audioconference (including telephone) or videoconference in a manner that maintains the safety and security of all court participants. Accordingly, in light of the extraordinary circumstances during the current public health emergency, people are strongly discouraged from attending any courthouse, and all proceedings will be held by audioconference or videoconference unless otherwise directed.

At the moment no in-person trials can be accommodated, unless otherwise ordered by a judge. We continue to be guided by the Public Health Officer. As the Province is still in a State of Emergency, we are working with government to make the necessary changes to courts to enable them to receive court participants in such a way that physical distancing can be respected, and participants can be kept safe. We are also working with government to improve technology to enhance our ability to conduct virtual hearings where possible. We recognize that accommodating in-person trials is an ongoing process that will be informed by public health information and physical distancing strategies/improvements in courts.

The Provincial Court recognizes these are difficult and challenging times. We encourage counsel to bring creative approaches to the Court that allow us to facilitate access to justice and meet statutory requirements. We do appreciate all of counsels’ efforts to accommodate this period of rapid change.

The directions in this Notice are subject to change as circumstances from the pandemic change.

Download the full Notice to the Profession and Public

+

Effective date: 28 April 2020
CRIM 12

PRACTICE DIRECTION CRIMINAL PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCES DURING COVID-19

Background

In R. v. Jordan, 2016 SCC 27, the Supreme Court of Canada told all participants in the criminal justice system they have “a role to play in changing courtroom culture and facilitating a more efficient criminal justice system” (at para. 45). Participants were directed to engage in “proactive, preventative problem solving” (supra, at para. 112) and encouraged to “eliminate or avoid inefficient practices” (supra, at para. 117).

Since these directions in Jordan, over three quarters of all criminal files set for trial in Provincial Court collapsed on the scheduled trial date because of guilty pleas, stays of proceedings, bench warrants or adjournments. In this same timeframe, only 4% of all criminal files actually proceeded to a hearing in the Provincial Court.

These statistics reveal that too many criminal files are set for trial and do not proceed causing significant scheduling difficulties and inefficient use of court time. These concerns are amplified in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Court’s consequential suspension of regular court operations. The Provincial Court is implementing this practice direction to help address these concerns by mandating pre-trial conferences for criminal files (adult and youth) at all Provincial Court locations in the Province. This practice direction also represents one of the steps the Court is taking to increase court operations during the COVID-19 pandemic while ensuring public health continues to be protected.

Purpose

There are two main purposes behind these pre-trial conferences. The first is to reduce the number of files being set for trial by helping to ensure that only those requiring a trial are actually set for hearing. The second purpose is to manage those files that are to be set for trial to ensure that accurate time estimates have been determined prior to dates being set and ensure hearings complete on time as scheduled.

The practice direction’s overarching aim is to reduce these inefficiencies in the criminal justice system by employing pre-trial conferences as a tool for the participants to collaborate and conduct cases more efficiently for the overall benefit of the administration of justice. The Court is committed to ensuring the fair, efficient and timely resolution of criminal files and to upholding the accused’s right to be tried within a reasonable time. Using pre-trial conferences to help reduce day of trial collapse rates and trial continuations is an important part of that commitment

Directions

A. General

  1. The pre-trial conference judge will not be the trial judge if the matter proceeds to trial. If the matter is resolved prior to trial, the disposition may be done by the pre-trial conference judge or assigned to another judge. Where multiple pre-trial conferences occur on a file, the pre-trial conferences will be conducted by the same judge unless that judge is unavailable.
  2. Pre-trial conferences will take place during court sitting hours unless reasonable accommodation of counsel’s schedule is required. Pre-trial conferences will be set in one hour intervals, although counsel may request additional time if they feel it will be required. 3. Unless otherwise ordered by the pre-trial conference judge:
    1. If the accused is represented by counsel, pre-trial conferences will take place off the record;
    2. If the accused is not represented by counsel, pre-trial conferences will take place on the record;
    3. All pre-trial conferences will be held via videoconference or audioconference; and d. If the accused is in custody and not represented by counsel, they will appear by videoconference.
    4. Crown counsel with conduct of the file1 (“Crown counsel”) and counsel for the accused, or the accused if not represented by counsel, must attend all pre-trial conferences, unless the pre-trial conference judge directs otherwise.

B. Before the pre-trial conference

  1. Before a pre-trial conference, Crown counsel and counsel for the accused, and the accused if not represented, must have:
    1. Thoroughly reviewed their files, and
    2. Discussed with each other the issues set out in paragraph 8.
  2. The parties may provide, and are encouraged to provide, the opposite party and the pre-trial conference judge with any materials that may assist with resolution discussions and trial management issues. Unless the parties agree otherwise, these materials are to be used only for pre-trial conference purposes; these materials will not be added to the court file and will be returned to the submitting party if requested or destroyed when no longer necessary for those purposes. At a minimum, Crown counsel must provide a Crown Synopsis in Form 1 (CRIM 12), a copy of the Information Crown counsel is proceeding on, and any criminal record of the accused. At least three business days prior to a scheduled pre-trial conference, the parties must exchange copies of all materials for the pre-trial conference and must deliver, electronically or otherwise, a copy of those materials to the Judicial Case Manager at the applicable court location for the attention of the pre-trial conference judge.
  3. If Crown counsel or counsel for the accused requests a preliminary inquiry, that party shall file a Statement of Issues and Witnesses in Form 2 (CRIM 12) unless otherwise ordered by the Court. The statement is to be filed with the Court preferably at the arraignment hearing.

C. At the pre-trial conference

  1. At a pre-trial conference, the parties are required to have authority and be prepared to make decisions about:
    1. resolution of the matter;
    2. disclosure;
    3. applications, including ones pursuant to the Charter, that the parties will bring at or before trial;
    4. the number and identity of witnesses the Crown counsel intends to call at the preliminary inquiry or at trial;
    5. any admissions the parties are willing to make;
    6. any legal issues that the parties anticipate may arise in the proceeding; and
    7. an estimate of the time needed to complete the proceeding

Commentary: In order to ensure they are able to make decisions on these issues, counsel for the accused must have communicated with their client to obtain instructions. For Crown counsel, they must have communicated with any civilian witnesses essential to the viability of the prosecution (for example, sex assault complainants) in order to assess their reliability and level of interest in the matter as well as obtain any resolution input where that may be appropriate.

The pre-trial conference judge will proactively canvass resolution in order to avoid setting trial dates. If the accused or their counsel require some time before proceeding to disposition, they should not be setting trial dates to obtain that time but rather pleading guilty and obtaining that time by adjourning the disposition. For Crown counsel, they need to be reasonable and realistic in their sentencing positions and exercise “enhanced discretion for resolving individual cases” (Jordan, para. 138). The pre-trial conference judge will also proactively canvass the issues to reduce them to only those requiring adjudication, and then determining both how much time will be required and how the file is to be scheduled. The intention is to ensure that those files that actually proceed to trial complete as scheduled thereby avoiding continuation dates that generate further delays in completing criminal proceedings.

D. After the pre-trial conference

  1. After hearing from the parties during a pre-trial conference, the pre-trial conference judge may take one or more of the following steps:
  1. make any case management directions or orders;
  2. confirm or amend the estimates of the time required to hear the proceeding;
  3. set timelines for the exchange of materials on applications to be heard, or for the completion of disclosure;
  4. set parameters for the hearing of applications;
  5. confirm any admissions made on the record and have all parties sign off on the admissions in writing;
  6. adjourn to the Judicial Case Manager to set a date for:
    1. a subsequent pre-trial conference;
    2. disposition;
    3. preliminary inquiry; or
    4. trial.
  7. take any further steps or provide any further directions consistent with the purpose of this Practice Direction.
  8. Following the conclusion of a pre-trial conference, any directions or orders made by the pre-trial conference judge may be reduced to writing or otherwise recorded.
  9. . If the matter is confirmed or set for hearing, a pre-trial conference will be set prior to the first date of hearing to ensure the matter will still be proceeding on the scheduled dates. If following this pre-trial conference, the file remains set for hearing, the pre-trial conference judge will then complete a Pre-Trial Conference Record, including any agreements or admissions, and have it placed in the court file.

Commentary: The parties can again expect the pre-trial conference judge to proactively pursue resolution and trial manage the file at this pre-trial conference. The Pre-Trial Conference Record will record any admissions, trial scheduling directions, witness issues and other details the trial judge needs to know for conducting the trial.

Duration

This practice direction is in effect commencing April 28, 2020 and remains in effect until further direction from the Chief Judge.

History of Practice Direction

I make this practice direction pursuant to my authority under the Provincial Court Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 379 and Rule 3 of the Provincial Court of British Columbia Criminal Caseflow Management Rules, SI/99-104.

Melissa Gillespie
Chief Judge
Provincial Court of British Columbia


1 For the purpose of this Practice Direction, “Crown counsel with conduct of the file” may include the applicable “Intake Crown” until the “Trial Crown” is assigned.

+

Unsworn or unaffirmed affidavits may be filed with requests for urgent family hearings during the period of reduced court operation due to COVID-19

Applications for court orders in family matters are usually accompanied by affidavits, written statements of fact that have been sworn or affirmed to be true before a commissioner for oaths such as a lawyer or justice of the peace. Because B.C.’s Provincial Court registries have not been providing in-person services since March 27,

2020 and many lawyers’ offices are now closed, it has become more difficult for people to have their affidavits sworn or affirmed.

As a result, the Provincial Court of British Columbia is concerned that requiring sworn or affirmed affidavits to support applications for urgent family hearings may result in denying people timely access to the Court for potentially urgent matters. The Chief Judge has therefore advised Provincial Court registries that the materials filed in support of urgent family hearing requests need not be sworn or affirmed during the period of reduced court operations due to COVID-19. 

When an “urgency determination hearing” is scheduled, a judge will review the written material filed, together with any evidence they may hear. The judge may attach whatever weight they consider appropriate to unsworn or unaffirmed documents. If the judge decides the matter is urgent, they will refer the matter to be scheduled for hearing.

People submitting affidavits must still take care to ensure their affidavits are accurate and true. Either during a hearing about the urgency of their application, or during a hearing on the application if one is granted, the judge will likely require them to swear or affirm that the contents of their affidavit are true.

Province of BC
+

ORDER OF THE MINISTER OF
PUBLIC SAFETY AND SOLICITOR GENERAL

Emergency Program Act

Ministerial Order No. M162

WHEREAS a declaration of a state of emergency throughout the whole of the Province of British Columbia was declared on March 18, 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic;

AND WHEREAS individuals in British Columbia must be able to make enduring powers of attorney and representation agreements in a manner that reduces the threat of COVID-19 to the health and safety of persons;

AND WHEREAS section 10 (1) of the Emergency Program Act provides that I may do all acts and implement all procedures that I consider necessary to prevent, respond to or alleviate the effects of any emergency or disaster;

I, Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, order that the attached Electronic Witnessing of Enduring Powers of Attorney and Representation Agreements (COVID-19) Order is made.

Download the Ministerial Order.

+

ORDER OF THE MINISTER OF
PUBLIC SAFETY AND SOLICITOR GENERAL

Emergency Program Act

Ministerial Order No. M161

WHEREAS a declaration of a state of emergency throughout the whole of the Province of British Columbia was declared on March 18, 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic;

AND WHEREAS individuals in British Columbia must be able to make wills in a manner that reduces the threat of COVID-19 to the health and safety of persons;

AND WHEREAS section 10 (1) of the Emergency Program Act provides that I may do all acts and implement all procedures that I consider necessary to prevent, respond to or alleviate the effects of any emergency or disaster;

I, Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, order that the attached Electronic Witnessing of Wills (COVID-19) Order is made.

Download the Ministerial Order

+

From the Ministry of Attorney General

The Ministry of Attorney General is establishing two advisory groups to support government response to the impact of restrictive public health measures on the justice system.

These groups will help government support courts and tribunals in delivering services as effectively as possible during the pandemic and in minimizing its impact on the justice system.

The first group is the Justice COVID-19 Response Group. Establishing this group formalizes a structure for regular discussions that have been taking place between the courts, legal stakeholder groups, and Ministry of Attorney General staff as they respond to urgent and arising issues in the court system. The membership of the group is fluid, and additional members may be added or removed as conditions require.

The membership of the Justice COVID-19 Response Group currently includes:

  • Attorney General’s Supreme Court Rules Committee
  • BC Association of Chiefs of Police
  • BC Civil Liberties Association
  • BC Council of Administrative Tribunals
  • BC Family Maintenance Agency
  • BC First Nations Justice Council
  • BC Law Institute
  • British Columbia Court of Appeal
  • Canadian Bar Association – BC Branch
  • Canadian Mental Health Association
  • Circle of Chairs
  • Community Legal Assistance Society
  • Continuing Legal Education Society
  • Courthouse Libraries BC
  • Ending Violence Association of BC
  • Independent Investigations Office
  • Justice Education Society
  • Law Foundation of BC
  • Law Society of BC
  • Legal Aid BC
  • Métis Nation BC Justice Council
  • Native Courtworkers and Counselling Association of BC
  • Notaries Public Board of Examiners
  • Notary Foundation
  • Provincial Court of British Columbia
  • Public Guardian and Trustee of BC
  • RCMP
  • Superior Courts Judiciary
  • Supreme Court of British Columbia
  • University of Victoria Access to Justice Centre for Excellence

The second advisory group is the Cross-Jurisdictional Technical Advisory Group. Members have been invited to assist the work of the Justice Response Group and government by recommending best practice technology and other measures that can reduce backlogs and deliver access to justice to British Columbians during and post-pandemic.

The membership of the Cross Jurisdictional Technical Advisory Group includes:

  • Allan Seckel (chair)
  • Tom Cromwell
  • Cristie Ford
  • Craig Jones
  • Julie Macfarlane
  • Beverley McLachlin
  • Graham Reynolds
  • Shannon Salter
  • Richard Susskind
  • Katie Sykes
  • Darin Thompson
  • Anisa White
  • Albert Yoon
  • Carmen Zabarauckas
+

ORDER OF THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC
SAFETY AND SOLICITOR GENERAL

Emergency Program Act

Ministerial Order No. M121

WHEREAS a declaration of a state of emergency throughout the whole of the Province of British Columbia was declared on March 18, 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic;

AND WHEREAS, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and necessary public health measures to be taken in response to it, it may not be reasonable for a party to a legal proceeding before the Supreme Court to take steps required by the Supreme Court Civil Rules or the Supreme Court Family Rules in order to participate in an application in relation to the legal proceeding;

AND WHEREAS it is consistent with the rule of law, principles of access to justice, and the object of the Supreme Court Civil Rules and the Supreme Court Family Rules to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of proceedings to facilitate access to the Supreme Court for the purpose of hearing and deciding applications by means other than in-person hearings;

AND WHEREAS section 10 (1) of the Emergency Program Act provides that I may do all acts and implement all procedures that I consider necessary to prevent, respond to or alleviate the effects of any emergency or disaster;

I, Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, order that the attached Supreme Court Civil and Family Applications (COVID-19) Order is made.

Download the Ministerial Order

 

+

ORDER OF THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND SOLICITOR GENERAL

Emergency Program Act

Ministerial Order No.M098

WHEREAS a declaration of a state of emergency throughout the whole of the Province of British Columbia was declared on March 18, 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic;

AND WHEREAS section 10 (1) of the Emergency Program Act provides that I may do all acts and implement all procedures that I consider necessary to prevent, respond to or alleviate the effects of any emergency or disaster;

AND WHEREAS, as a result of the pandemic and necessary public health measures to be taken in response to it, it may not be possible for a person involved in legal or administrative proceedings to take steps required by legislation;

AND WHEREAS I have considered the problems that delay of proceedings may cause to persons seeking to enforce their legal rights and I have determined that this order is a necessary and proportionate response to the state of emergency;

I, Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, order that, effective April 15, 2020,
(a) the Limitation Periods (COVID-19) Order made by MO 86/2020 is repealed, and
(b) the attached Limitation Periods (COVID-19) Order No. 2 is made.

Download the Ministerial Order

+

ORDER OF THE MINISTER OF PUBIC SAFETY AND SOLICITOR GENERAL

Emergency Program Act

Ministerial Order No. M094

WHEREAS a declaration of a state of emergency throughout the whole of the Province of British Columbia was declared on March 18, 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic;

AND WHEREAS section 10 (1) of the Emergency Program Act provides that I may do all acts and implement all procedures that I consider necessary to prevent, respond to or alleviate the effects of any emergency or disaster;

AND WHEREAS the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic to the health, safety or welfare of people has resulted in guidelines, recommendations or requirements to limit in-person contacts;

AND WHEREAS it is necessary to support the provision of daily services essential to preserving life, health, public safety and basic social functioning;

AND WHEREAS it is in the public interest to protect persons who operate or provide essential services from liability for damages relating, directly or indirectly, to COVID-19, if those persons operate or provide those services, or reasonably believe that they are operating or providing those services, in accordance with all applicable emergency and public health guidance;

I HEREBY order that the attached Protection Against Liability (COVID-19) Order is made.

Download the Ministerial Order

 

The Law Society of BC

LSBC has a COVID-19 Information page including an FAQ. Some information is provided below but visit their site for all LSBC updates.

+

Benchers approve rule changes in light of provincial health emergency

The Benchers approved two amendments to the Law Society Rules in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first is to permit lawyers to use electronic documents or information obtained through public bodies, such as BC Online, to verify the identity of an organization. The other gives the Executive Director discretion to extend the payment of second instalment of indemnity fees, which has now been extended to August 31, 2020. See the highlights of amendments here.

Continuing professional development programs, free of charge

The Law Society recognizes that it may be challenging for some lawyers to complete their continuing professional development (CPD) credits as in-person opportunities may be cancelled or lawyers may have financial concerns due to COVID-19. To assist lawyers with options for fulfilling their CPD requirements, we have compiled the following list of free online programs.

Cloud-based computing and video-conferencing platforms

Over the past month, many law firms and lawyers were required to make a rapid transition to remote work and using video-conferencing technology and products to provide legal advice and services. The Law Society has developed some tips and information to consider when choosing and using these platforms. See Video conferencing technology information for details. If you would like to discuss a specific issue regarding video-conference software with a practice advisor, contact practiceadvice@lsbc.org.

LTSA web filing webinar available on demand

A recorded version of a webinar about using the new PTT web filing form has been posted and is available on demand. The webinar will prepare viewers for a new PTT return that the Ministry of Finance plans to introduce in coming weeks. The return aligns with the LTSA’s new Web Filing capabilities. The webinar can be viewed here.

Ministry of Finance: transparency register deadline moved to October 1, 2020

Because of the challenge of practicing physical distancing, it may be challenging to obtain the required information of the significant individuals of a company to complete the Business Corporations Act’s transparency register of beneficial owners. The Ministry of Finance has extended the time for BC private companies to have their transparency register in place from May 1, 2020 to October 1, 2020. For more information, visit their website.

+

The Law Society would like to assist lawyers and law firms during this uncertain time by extending the Trust Report filing requirement for law firms with the period ending December 31, 2019. Firms will now have until April 30, 2020 to submit their Trust Report.

+

On March 20, 2020, the Court of Appeal for British Columbia, the Supreme Court of British Columbia, and the Provincial Court of British Columbia issued Notices regarding affidavits for use in Civil and Family Proceedings that set out a process for commissioning affidavits in urgent cases where it is not possible, or is medically unsafe, for the deponent of an affidavit to attend physically before a commissioner. The full Notices can be found in the directives linked below:

Court of Appeal for British Columbia

Supreme Court of British Columbia

Provincial Court of British Columbia

Where lawyers reasonably determine that circumstances require virtual commissioning of an affidavit and follow the procedure in the Court’s notice, the Law Society will consider the requirement that the deponent be physically present before the lawyers, set out in Appendix A 1(a) of the Code of Professional Conduct, to have been met.

LAND TITLE AND SURVEY AUTHORITY (LTSA)
+

In response to our customers’ feedback, the Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia (LTSA) has updated the list of supporting documents for which a true copy may be used in place of the original document. True copies accepted during the COVID-19 pandemic now include:

  • Certificate of Vesting under section 262 of the Land Title Act. (May 15)
  • Provincial or Federal Transfer and Administration of Control (May 11)
  • Notice of Human Resource Facility Act signed under the direction or authority of the Minister (May 11)

As the COVID-19 situation evolves, current information about land title practice matters will be posted to our website at https://ltsa.ca/covid-19-resources and Twitter account @LTSABC.

The LTSA is committed to protecting the health and well-being of our employees and customers while ensuring our business operations continue as usual. Thank you for your continued understanding and support.

+

In response to our customers’ feedback, and further to the guidance provided on March 26, 2020, the Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia (LTSA) has updated the list of supporting documents for which a true copy may be used in place of the original document. True copies accepted during the COVID-19 pandemic now include:

  1. Form Y Owner Developers Notice of Different Bylaws
  2. Form W – Schedule of Voting Rights
  3. Affordable Housing Agreement

Minor changes have also been made to the Director’s E-Filing Directions.

As the COVID-19 situation evolves, current information about land title practice matters will be posted to our website at ltsa.ca and Twitter account @LTSABC.

The LTSA is committed to protecting the health and well-being of our employees and customers while ensuring our business operations continue as usual. Thank you for your continued understanding and support.

+

Following the Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia (LTSA) announcement of March 31, PB 01-20 Process for Remote Witnessing of Affidavits for use in Land Title Applications has been revised to provide further direction on affidavits as supporting documents attached to a Declaration form.

Practice Bulletin 01-20 has been updated with the following revisions: 

  • Amended approvals to include the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia

  • Removed the certificate from paragraph 8 and amended and combined the content in paragraphs 8 and 9 to provide further direction on affidavits as supporting documents attached to a Declaration form

+

The Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia (LTSA) thanks its customers for their questions and feedback over the past few weeks as everyone has adapted their business to comply with the Province’s physical distancing measures. As essential service providers, we are all connected in our efforts to maintain the continuous functioning of BC’s real property market during these extraordinary times.

The Director of Land Titles has issued Practice Bulletin 01-20 Process for Remote Witnessing of Affidavits for use in Land Title Applications, in effect immediately to provide direction about remote witnessing of affidavits in support of land title applications (including section 49) during the COVID-19 pandemic. This practice direction enables only BC lawyers and notaries who represent the parties to a property transaction to remotely witness affidavits. Lawyers and notaries who choose to remotely witness affidavits must first review the Law Society of British Columbia’s (LSBC) directions on best practices for using video-conferencing when providing legal advice or services, and must incorporate a statement in the jurat of the affidavit confirming this process was used and the best practices were followed.

Download the Practice Bulletin

+

In response to our customers’ feedback, and further to the guidance provided on March 24, 2020, the Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia (LTSA) has updated the list of supporting documents for which a true copy may be used in place of the original document. True copies accepted during the COVID-19 situation now include:

  1.  Certificates from Vital Statistics
    Designates can now submit true copies of supporting documents such as death certificates, marriage certificates, and change of name certificates.
     
  2.  Court Certified Documents
    Documents such as Certificate of Judgement and Certificate of Pending Litigation can also be submitted now as true copies.

 As the COVID-19 situation evolves, current information about land title practice matters will be posted to our website at ltsa.ca and Twitter account @LTSABC.

The LTSA is committed to protecting the health and well-being of our employees and customers while ensuring our business operations continue as usual. Thank you for your continued understanding and support.

+

In support of recommendations by the BC Public Health Officer to maintain social distance, the Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia (LTSA) has implemented temporary changes during these extraordinary times with respect to witnessing requirements when executing instruments under the Land Title Act.

1. Sections 42-48 in Part 5 of Land Title Act

This part of the Land Title Act requires individuals executing an instrument to appear before an officer. However, in circumstances where individuals do not wish to appear before an officer due to social distancing concerns, the Registrar will accept an Affidavit of Execution sworn under section 49 of the Act. For more details on section 49, including preferred forms of affidavit, please see paragraphs 5.88 to 5.101 of the Land Title Practice Manual.

Although virtual commissioning of affidavits for use in Civil and Family proceedings were approved on March 20, 2020, the Land Title Act does not allow for remote or videoconference witnessing. The Supreme Court of BC has held that the words “appear before” require a physical presence before the officer, and not an appearance by means of videoconference technology (First Canadian Title Insurance Company v. The Law Society of B.C., 2004 BCSC 197). The Law Society of BC is currently working with the Province on a solution.

2. Instruments Executed and Witnessed Contemporaneously in Counterpart

Another acceptable option would be for individuals to sign an execution copy of a document in the presence of, but at a safe distance from, the officer who would apply his/her signature and officer details on an identical execution copy. If the Registrar requires the applicant to produce the execution copy under section 168.57 of the Land Title Act, having the two signatures on separate pages will not trigger any action against the designate who certified the document.

3. True Copies Accepted for Supporting Documents

The Director of Land Titles has published a list of supporting documents for which a true copy may be used in place of the original document.  

As the COVID-19 situation evolves, current information about land title practice matters will be posted to our website at ltsa.ca and Twitter account @LTSABC.

The LTSA is committed to protecting the health and well-being of our customers and employees, while ensuring our business operations continue as usual. Thank you for your continued understanding and support.

LTSA Questions and Answers: Remote Witnessing During COVID-19

Subsequent to temporarily allowing remote witnessing of affidavits in support of land title applications during this extraordinary time, the Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia (LTSA) has received many inquiries from customers seeking greater clarification on the various practice implications outlined in the Director of Land Titles’ Practice Bulletin 01-20. Additional updates were communicated on March 31, 2020 and April 7, 2020, along with Practice Tips in response to these inquiries.

Carlos MacDonald, Director of Land Titles, also participated in a webinar hosted by the Canadian Bar Association of BC on April 9, 2020 – here are some of the questions and answers from that session:

+
  1.  What is considered a ‘true copy’?

    The definition of ‘true copy’ in the Land Title Act changed in November 2019. Whereas it used to refer to the wet-ink signed version of the PDF Electronic Filing System form, this is now known as the ‘execution copy’.

    In the context of supporting documents, the original document is on paper so the ‘true copy’ is an exact copy of the original document.
     
  2.  Can the signatures be electronic, if clients don’t have access to printers?

    No, not at this time. While we have started to assess that technology, we likely won’t have a solution in place in time for this wave of COVID-19.
     
  3. Practice Bulletin 01-20 did not specifically say documents attached to Declarations – are these included from the Form 17 list? If they are in the list for Form 17, are they also okay for Declarations?

    Only those supporting documents that are listed in the temporary list may be true copies (plus s.49 affidavits and Strata Form Fs). Yes, if the documents are in the list for Form 17, they are acceptable for Declarations.
     
  4. To clarify, the sample s.49 affidavit (Execution by an Individual) does not necessarily require paragraph two re video conferencing does it?

    Correct.
     
  5. I’d like clarification on the comparison of affidavits as outlined in #4 of Practice Bulletin 01-20. Does the lawyer need to initial and, if so, how?

    I recently administered an oath to an affidavit for court purposes using video conferencing. We compared the form of the affidavit and I had the client initial each page of the affidavit in front of me via video conference. I had that initialed copy scanned and sent to me. I then administered the oath, the client signed and then scanned and sent the client-initialled-and-signed affidavit again to me. I then signed the client-initialled-and-signed affidavit and provided a Certificate in the form of my own affidavit to verity the copies before me were identical.


    Is this appropriate? I believe this was the only way to assure a true identical copy of the client’s same affidavit. If I had initialled the first copy, it would not be identical to my client’s initialled-and-signed copy.

    Paragraphs 4-7 in Practice Bulletin 01-20 were adopted nearly verbatim from the court endorsed procedure. The procedure you describe adds another step to the process (having the client send the initialled version before he/she swears it before you). The rationale provided makes sense for ensuring you and the deponent have the exact same copy of the affidavit. The extra step, while it adds an additional layer of protection and confirmation, does not precisely follow the required process – the bullet points below elaborate on the required process:
  • You draft and send the affidavit and exhibits to your client, who prints it out.
  • Once on video conference, the client reads the affidavit to you, letting you know when they’re turning pages.
  • As you go through the pages together verbally, you each initial your respective versions of the affidavit.
  • After the review, you administer the oath and watch the deponent sign the affidavit.
  • The deponent sends you the affidavit that he/she has initialled and signed.
  • You compare your initialled copy to the initialled and signed copy the deponent sent you. This is the step where you verify you both had the same version of the affidavit when you administered the oath.
  • You apply your signature to the version of the affidavit the deponent sent you.
  • You attach both copies of the affidavit to a declaration form for submission to the Land Title Office.

These steps meet the requirements and allow you to satisfy yourself that the two copies were the same.

+
  1. Can a lawyer print the scanned copy of the affidavit provided by the client and sign that copy rather than submitting two copies?

    No, two copies are required. Although the lawyer or notary can print the scanned copy provided by the client and sign that copy, we also need the copy that the lawyer or notary had before him/her when the affidavit was sworn remotely to confirm that the affidavits were the same.
     
  2. If there are two authorized signatories, can all three parties sign counterpart (ie witness, authorized signatory #1, and authorized signatory #2)?

    Yes.
     
  3. Re a s.49 affidavit, if I am video conferencing with clients who are signing a Form B Mortgage, and I have never met them before, is it permissible for me to use the suggested language (“I am acquainted with the signature of the transferor through the use of video conferencing and believe that the signature subscribed to the instrument is the signature of the transferor”) for myself to swear the affidavit before my assistant who is a commissioner for oaths? I will review their ID during the video conference and watch them sign.

    There are two parts to the question and answer – with respect to using the language you provided, the words “through the use of video conferencing” are not required. You need to be comfortable swearing that you’re acquainted with the transferor, but how you became acquainted does not need to be in the s.49 affidavit. Including that language suggests there is a different standard for becoming acquainted with someone through video conference, which is not the case.

    The second part of the question re swearing the affidavit before your assistant who is a commissioner for oaths works as long as the s.49 affidavit is not sworn remotely. Only lawyers and notaries are allowed to swear affidavits remotely for land title purposes.
     
  4. To confirm, if a transferor signs a Form A by video, and the lawyer watches them sign the Form A by video, can the lawyer then swear an affidavit in front of another lawyer in their office under s.49, as the lawyer is acquainted with the signature of the transferor?

    If you’re watching the transferor sign the Form A and that is the only evidence upon which you’re basing the level of acquaintance you have with the signature, it may not be sufficient.

    A better practice may be for the transferor to send a copy of their signature that they’ve signed on camera, and sent to you while still on camera, before the transferor signs the actual Form A and sends it, in order to meet the straight face test. In this way, you would already be acquainted with the signature by the time the signed Form A is received.

    Ultimately, you’re swearing the affidavit so please exercise your professional judgement.
     
  5. Is it okay if a lawyer meets the client for the first time by video conference, views their ID on screen during the video conference to then say they are acquainted with the signature?

    Similar to the response above, meeting a client for the first time by video conference may fall below the best practices established by the Law Society of British Columbia for using video conferencing when providing legal advice if the lawyer hasn’t already verified the identity of the client. Where ID is produced to support identity verification, you have to ensure that a copy of the ID (front and back) is sent to you in advance of the video conference. Then, during the video conference, you would compare the picture and information on the scanned ID with the image of your client on the screen, and compare the ID in their hands (front and back) with the scanned ID you received earlier. At that point, you would’ve likely satisfied yourself that you’re acquainted with the client but you would still need to acquaint yourself with his/her signature.
     
  6. Are statutory declarations also able to be remotely declared? For example, a statutory declaration of attorney re age which is attached to an electronic Power of Attorney?

    Yes.
     
  7. To use the remote witnessing of a s. 49 Affidavit of Execution technique, do we always need to have a third person on the video conference with the transferor? For example, if we’re signing a Form A and the lawyer is video conferencing with the transferor, do we need at least one staff member, or transferor’s family member, to be present via video to witness the transferor’s signature, and thereafter swear the Affidavit of Execution (again via video) in front of the lawyer?

    You don’t always need to have a third person on the video conference with the transferor to use the remote swearing of s.49 Affidavit of Execution, provided there is another lawyer or notary before whom to swear the affidavit.

    The Practice Tips published on March 31, 2020 refer to a similar scenario when there is a firm with only one lawyer or notary. The lawyer could be with the client by video conference and then swear the affidavit in front of a second lawyer or notary. However, if there’s only one lawyer or notary available, then it makes sense to have a third person from the office in the video conference who can then swear the s.49 affidavit (as deponent).

    The other suggestion in the question was to have another family member of the transferor attend the video conference. The family member likely would not have to attend the same video conference in order to be able to swear a s.49 affidavit since they would be acquainted with the transferor and their signature. The family member could swear the affidavit in a separate video conference if they weren’t available for the first meeting, or if you wanted to meet with the transferor alone.
     
  8.  Can an articling student remote witness affidavits?

    No, not for land title purposes. Articled students are commissioners for taking affidavits by virtue of a regulation under the Evidence Act, not because they meet the definition of a BC lawyer. As outlined in Practice Bulletin 01-20, commissioners for taking affidavits are not permitted to remotely witness affidavits.
     
  9. With respect to the jurat, who is the deponent? The transferor or the person swearing the affidavit?

    The deponent is the person swearing the affidavit. It is not the transferor because independent corroboration is required to confirm that the signature on the Form A is indeed the transferor’s signature.
     
  10. I am confused – more than one real estate lawyer has been sending emails saying we can now witness mortgages and land title transfer forms for registration remotely with our clients. Yet it sounds like the LTSA says we cannot witness such documents remotely.

    Correct – there is no authority to remotely witness land title forms. While it is a less elegant solution than what the remote signing of land title forms could be, the remote witnessing of s.49 affidavits is a workaround that effectively allows a legal practitioner to comply with Part 5 signing requirements in the Land Title Act without having to meet the client/transferor in person.
     
  11. Where a lawyer is appointed as an authorized signatory of a corporate client in order to sign a transfer form, if the lawyer is not able to meet with an officer to sign as a secondary signatory, can we use a s.49 affidavit and have it sworn remotely?

    Yes, if everyone is working from home then someone who is acquainted with the signature of the law firm’s staff member could remotely swear a s.49 affidavit. This question is a good variation on the scenario outlined in Practice Tip #1, published on March 31, 2020.
     
  12.  May I witness the signing of an affidavit where the client resides in Alberta?

    Yes. A related question is what location does the lawyer or notary submit as the location where the affidavit was sworn – where the lawyer/notary is situated or where the client/deponent is? Location is based on where the lawyer/notary is situated.
+

Do you allow the same allowances for affidavits in terms of virtual signing to be made for witnessing requirements for Power of Attorneys (POA)?

The signature of the Adult donor in an Enduring Power of Attorney (“EPOA”) used for land title purposes must be witnessed in accordance with Part 5 of the Land Title Act. Where the Adult is unable to attend before a BC lawyer or notary, the following alternative method to witness and confirm the Adult’s signature may be used. This method complies with the execution and witnessing requirements under the Land Title Act and Power of Attorney Act.

Signing and Witnessing the EPOA
Section 16(1) of the Power of Attorney Act permits an Adult to sign an EPOA in the presence of two layperson witnesses. The two witnesses must provide evidence to confirm they are not prohibited from acting as witnesses under s. 16(6) of the Power of Attorney Act, either by covering off the criteria listed in s. 16(6) in the POA instrument itself, or by including it in an accompanying affidavit. 

Where a BC lawyer or notary hasn’t witnessed the Adult’s signature, the Adult’s signature must also be confirmed in accordance with s. 49 of the Land Title Act. Section 49 provides that someone who is acquainted with both the transferor and his/her signature may swear an affidavit stating the belief that the signature in the instrument is indeed the signature of the person named in the instrument as transferor, or in the case of an EPOA, the Adult. Please note:
 

  • Only one of the witnesses to the Adult’s signature on the EPOA is required to swear a s. 49 affidavit.
  • The Attorney’s signature does not need to be executed under Land Title Act Part 5, so a s. 49 affidavit is not required to confirm the Attorney’s signature.

See Schedule B of Practice Bulletin 02-11 Enduring Powers of Attorney for a suggested form of affidavit of witness.

Signing and Witnessing the s. 49 Affidavit Remotely Pursuant to Practice Bulletin 01-20 Process for Remote Witnessing of Affidavits for Use in Land Title Applications (PB 01-20)

  1. Until further notice, if either the individual swearing the s. 49 affidavit (the “deponent”) or the commissioner for taking affidavits is unable or unwilling to be in one another’s physical presence due to COVID-19, the affidavit may be remotely witnessed by a BC lawyer or notary who is acting for the Adult. The remote witnessing of the s. 49 affidavit does not change the requirement in the Power of Attorney Act that the Adult’s signature be witnessed in the presence of two witnesses. Please refer to paragraph 5.92 in the Land Title Practice Manual for a suggested form of a s. 49 affidavit.
     
  2. Please follow the process set out in PB 01-20 for the remote swearing of the s. 49 affidavit.
     
  3. If the aforementioned s. 16(6) of the Power of Attorney Act matters are covered off in an affidavit as opposed to being included in the POA instrument itself, the same remote witnessing steps may be used for the affidavit covering off those matters.
     
  4. The two copies of the s. 49 affidavit are submitted to the Land Title Office in support of the “Form 17 Charge, Notation or Filing” application for Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney and affidavit are supporting documents under section 168.43 of the Land Title Act. Although the original Power of Attorney instrument must be in the possession of the subscriber when e-signing the Form 17, the s. 49 affidavit in support of the Form 17 may be a true copy. In this regard, see section 3.3.7 in the E-filing Directions for further guidance.