BC Courts (Covid-19)
|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. This page was last updated by Clicklaw team on August 12, 2020 - 11:00 AM PDT.|
This page provides links to service changes announcement and more details, including notices, from BC courts and tribunals.
This list is a starting point and is not meant to be exhaustive. It is not intended to give legal advice on your particular legal problem.
For answers to frequently asked questions about family matters in Provincial Court, Supreme Court, and the Court of Appeal, check out Legal Aid BC's: Coronavirus: how COVID-19 is affecting the legal system. Your questions answered Courts Q & A.
Court Filings and Procedures
Changes in procedures for the Provincial and Supreme Courts continue to be announced. See the "Announcements from BC Courts" section below for more details directly from the courts.
Justice Education Society: Legal Help BC - Courts & Tribunals
- Plain language answers to common questions such as court dates, documents, limitation periods, making applications and jury duty.
Amici Curiae Friends of Court: Virtual Legal Forms Workshop
- Get free online help with filling out court forms. This service is available across all BC communities. Appointment required.
National Self Represented Litigants Project (NSLRP): COVID-19 Webinar for Self Represented Litigants
- This webinar reviews the current situation in the courts, including adjournments and changes in court procedures during the pandemic including filing, deadlines and time periods, and affidavits. Note: The webinar is national in scope and some information may not be relevant to BC
BC Residential Tenancies Branch: Practice Directive Update June 24
- Updates to the previous Practice Directive dated April 30 which detailed processes for dispute resolution for residential tenancies during COVID-19.
BC Residential Tenancies Branch: Director's Order June 24
- Rescission of Director's Order dated March 30, 2020
Note: If your matter is in Provincial Court, the process established in March for applying for urgent applications is no longer necessary. As of July 13th, court operations have resumed and the pre-COVID process for having urgent matters come before the Court applies. See the "Provincial Court" section below for more details.
National Self Represented Litigants Project (NSLRP): Urgent Court Cases and COVID-19
- Guidance on how to determine if your issue is urgent and how to apply. Note: This is a national website and contains information specific to BC as well as other provinces
BC Supreme Court: Request for Urgent Hearing
- Form to request the hearing of an urgent matter (civil, family, or criminal) in BC Supreme Court
BC Provincial Court:
- As of July 8th, Provincial Court Registries began accepting new family and criminal filings by email, mail, or fax to fax filing registries. As a result, applying for urgent hearings is no longer necessary for Provincial Court matters, and the process that was established in March has now ended. For details see Revised - NP 19 Notice to the Profession and Public - COVID 19: Resumption of Court Operations (Effective July 13, 2020).
An affidavit is a written statement of facts by an individual or "deponent". Before filing an affidavit with the court, the document has to be signed in front of a lawyer, notary public or a commissioner for taking oaths to be 'sworn' or affirmed as true. Due to COVID-19 health directives, the courts are allowing affidavits to be signed virtually by video conference. The following "Notices to the public regarding affidavits for use in court proceedings" dated March 27, 2020, explain the process for each court:
An announcement from the BC Provincial Court dated April 15th, 2020 allows for unsworn or unaffirmed affidavits to be filed with requests for urgent family hearings. Please see the announcement for details.
Legal Aid BC has compiled a list of Questions & Answers about court processes for each court level, including getting affidavits sworn:
Announcements from BC Courts
Information about how COVID-19 is affecting court operations is posted on the courts’ websites. The links below will take you directly to each court’s announcements page. Please note that information for each court level may differ. For help determining which court level applies, you can take a look at the Which Court Do I Need to go to? page in the Beginner’s Guide to Finding Legal Information wikibook.
Court of Appeal
- BC Court of Appeal: Announcements
- Follow the link to the announcements page to find a list of all COVID-19 related announcements that have been issued by the Court. They are listed from newest to oldest.
- The latest announcement released on August 4 further suspends filing deadlines from August 5, 2020 to August 19, 2020
- Supreme Court of BC Notices & Announcements
- Find the latest COVID-19 related news from the Supreme Court as well as links to previous updates on the court's website (links above).
- The recent notices include: Aug 7 update to in-person registry services, and July 27 resumption of trial management conferences and trials
- The latest announcement issued on April 30th is a message from the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court addressing the many challenges of hearing proceedings during the COVID crisis and what the court is doing to adapt.
- Provincial Court of BC: News
- Recent announcements about reopening the courts:
- Some Initial Appearance Courts have reopened. For details see Practice Direction CRIM 13 - Initial Appearance Court during COVID-19
- As of June 15, 2020, 40 in-person trial courts are available, in addition to virtual courts. As of July 3, 2020, The Provincial Court of B.C. resumed all previously scheduled in-person proceedings in all criminal, family and small claims matters. Read NP 19 Notice - COVID 19: Resumption of Court Operations for details.
- Traffic Court is ready to resume scheduling traffic hearings in some locations. See the June 22, 2020 Traffic Court Announcement for details
- Recent announcements relating to changes in court procedure:
- As of July 13th, Provincial Court registries are accepting all filings in-person and remotely (via fax, email, mail, or through Court Services Online where available). Remote filing is encouraged wherever possible to keep people safe. See the Revised Notice to Profession and the Public NP 19 - COVID-19: Resumption of Court Operations (July 13, 2020) for details.
- If you are appearing before the Provincial Court in a remote hearing, see NP 21 - Notice to the Profession and Public: Guide to Remote Proceedings (Effective July 13th) for a step-by-step guide to appearing in a Microsoft Teams audio or video conference.
- There is a faster, new process for applying to change child or spousal support orders related to COVID-19. Changes include:
- New 2 step process available (but not required) for a party who is only seeking a suspension or change to an existing agreement or Provincial Court order about child support or spousal support as a result of a change in income since January 2020 that is related to COVID-19.
- Step 1 - Dispute Resolution Process that may include mediation with a family justice counsellor, family law mediator, a collaborative family law process, or facilitated negotiation with a child support officer
- Step 2 – if necessary, a hearing by telephone or videoconference unless otherwise ordered
- Watch for eNews next week, with step by step directions on how to use the new process. For more details see PD FAM 08, effective July 2nd, 2020.
- Look for the latest notices and announcements on the homepage of the Provincial Court's website under the “News” heading.
- You can also find important information including FAQ on their COVID-19 webpage.
BC Civil Resolution Tribunal
- The CRT is Canada's first online tribunal and as such, it remains fully operational. However, given the current exceptional circumstances, some changes have been made regarding deadlines, default decisions, and orders.
- Find details of these changes on the CRT COVID-19 Response Plan webpage.
- Updates on the CRT, including information about the new rules effective as of May 1, 2020 can be found on the CRT Blog.
Please note, the ways the BC Courts are responding to the state of emergency may differ from how BC Tribunals are responding. For information specific to other tribunals such as the BC Human Rights Tribunal or the Employment Standards Tribunal, please see the Ministry of the Attorney General Response to COVID-19 webpage (scroll to the bottom once you are on the site).
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