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BC court closures due to COVID-19

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, regular operation at all of the British Columbia courts are suspended. As of March 18, 2020, the following restrictions apply:

The BC Supreme Court has announced today that regular operations are suspended effective immediately until further notice:

As part of the Court’s efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia has ordered the suspension of all regular operations, effective immediately and until further notice. It is a constitutional imperative that the courts must remain open; however, in light of the extraordinary circumstances during the current public health emergency, members of the public who do not have urgent business before the court are discouraged from attending any courthouse. Any matter scheduled for an appearance today shall proceed unless the presiding judge orders otherwise. All regular hearings scheduled after today are adjourned indefinitely.

At the BC Court of Appeal, the Court announced on March 17 that hearings and applications scheduled between March 18 and May 1, 2020 are adjourned except for urgent matters:

All appeal hearings, chambers applications and other matters currently scheduled to occur between 18 March 2020 and 1 May 2020 are adjourned unless designated by the Chief Justice as matters that must proceed.

The Court is examining its docket and creating a list on an ongoing basis of matters that must proceed (for example, urgent criminal, family law or child protection matters). Litigants to an appeal designated as a matter that must proceed will be contacted by the registry and the matter will be presumptively heard remotely by teleconference or in writing.

For matters that are not designated as matters that must proceed, parties who consent to have their appeal, chambers application, or other matter heard by teleconference or in writing may contact the registrar in writing to request the permission of the Chief Justice, or his delegate, to proceed by alternative means.

Further information will follow regarding the rescheduling of adjourned appeals, chambers applications and other matters.

Effective March 18, 2020, the BC Provincial Court, which includes Small Claims Court, has announced the cancellation of Small Claims hearings and the closure of several courthouse location:

Small claims case conferences scheduled between March 16 and May 4, 2020 will not proceed so the parties should not attend Court. The parties will receive notification by May 4, 2020 regarding the next date they must attend Court.

Only urgent small claims matters as determined by a judge will be heard, including applications:

a. regarding outstanding warrants;
b. to preserve limitation periods;
c. to extend the time for filing pleadings where permitted under the Small Claims Rules; and
d. to renew notices of claim.

Urgent small claims filings will only be accepted:

• electronically (where able) using Court Services Online;
• by mail; or,
• by fax to fax filing registries (see GEN 01 Practice Direction).