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In order to transfer a file between court registries, you must apply for a court order. The BC Supreme Court Civil Rules, Supreme Court Family Rules and BC Provincial Court (Family) Rules all have provisions allowing for the transfer of court files between registries, but the rules do not include specific criteria or guidelines to help draft a successful application. The relevant rules are:

Applying for the transfer order

SUPREME COURT

Some useful information to supplement the Supreme Court Rules can be found in BC Annual Practice and in McLachlin & Taylor’s British Columbia Practice (available throughout Courthouse Libraries BC locations). According to these texts, the grounds for granting a transfer of proceedings are based on the “interests of justice” and the “balance of convenience”. For example, to determine whether a transfer is appropriate, a judge may consider what the financial burden would be for each of the parties or whether counsel would be able to travel and schedule hearings in the new location.

PROVINCIAL COURT

The Provincial Court rules provide information on the process of making an application to the court in Rule 12 – Applying by Notice of Motion for Orders or Directions, including which court form to use, how many copies you’ll need, etc. Rule 19 – Transfer of Court Files deals specifically with the details of transferring files and describes the relevant considerations as “the balance of convenience” and “any special circumstances that exist”.

Research strategy for finding a sample order

Unfortunately there are no freely accessible completed examples of successful applications to use as a guide. However, you can do a case law search to find a case with circumstances similar to your own. You can ‘note-up’ the relevant court rules to show cases that have cited them, do a keyword search, or some combination of the two. If you need help doing case law research, consult the series of video tutorials entitled Legal Research Essentials: Finding Cases on Point on our website. Once you find a case where a judge granted such an application, you can go to the court registry where the case was heard and request a copy of the application or order from the court record. It is important to keep in mind that public access to court records – especially family cases involving children – can be restricted. You will not be able to see a copy of an order if the record has been sealed. Supreme Court of British Columbia Court Record Access Policy provides a full description of the principles and policies that determine public access to records.  

Once you have the order

After you get the order, you can find information about the details of the transfer process in Supreme Court from the Registrar’s Newsletter on the Courts of British Columbia website. Relevant questions and answers are listed under each rule number: Supreme Court Civil Rule 23-1(13); and Supreme Court Family Rule 22-2(13).

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