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  • Asked & Answered: How do I transfer a file between court registries?

    by Megan Smiley | Apr 25, 2017

    Asked & Answered is a collection of answers to tricky legal research questions, written by Courthouse Libraries staff. Search Asked & Answered here.


    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


    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.


    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 Rule 23-1(13); and Supreme Court Family Rule 22-2(13).


    Courthouse Libraries BC locations - http://www.courthouselibrary.ca/about/locations-contact

    Courts of British Columbia – http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/

    Court records – http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/justice/courthouse-services/documents-forms-records/access-court-records

    Court registries – http://www.clicklaw.bc.ca/helpmap/service/1014

    Legal Research Essentials: Finding Cases on Point – http://www.courthouselibrary.ca/training/videos/FindingCasesOnPoint.aspx

    Registrar’s Newsletter – http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/supreme_court/about_the_supreme_court/Consolidation.pdf

    Provincial Court (Family) Rule 12 – Applying by Notice of Motion for Orders or Directions – http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/LOC/loo88/loo88/--%20C%20--/Court%20Rules%20Act%20%5bRSBC%201996%5d%20c.%2080/17_417_98%20-%20Provincial%20Court%20(Family)%20Rules/417_98_01.xml#rule12

    Provincial Court (Family) Rule 19 - http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/LOC/loo88/loo88/--%20C%20--/Court%20Rules%20Act%20%5bRSBC%201996%5d%20c.%2080/17_417_98%20-%20Provincial%20Court%20(Family)%20Rules/417_98_01.xml#rule1

    Supreme Court Civil Rule 23-1(13) – http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/LOC/complete/statreg/--%20C%20--/Court%20Rules%20Act%20%5bRSBC%201996%5d%20c.%2080/05_Regulations/17_168_2009%20-%20Supreme%20Court%20Civil%20Rules/168_2009_03.xml#subrule_d2e30509

    Supreme Court Family Rule 22-2(13) - http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/LOC/complete/statreg/--%20C%20--/Court%20Rules%20Act%20%5bRSBC%201996%5d%20c.%2080/05_Regulations/18_169_2009%20-%20Supreme%20Court%20Family%20Rules/169_2009_03.xml#subrule_d2e26220

    Supreme Court of British Columbia Court Record Access Policy – http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/supreme_court/media/BCSC%20Court%20Record%20Access%20Policy%20-%20March%209,%202011.pdf



  • Asked & Answered: When did sessional statute volumes start including tables of legislative changes?

    by Megan Smiley | Jan 26, 2017
    Asked & Answered is a collection of answers to tricky legal research questions, written by Courthouse Libraries staff. Search Asked & Answered here.



    Tables of legislative changes have been included in the Acts of the Parliament of Canada in one form or another since 1899. However, the way the information was organized and represented changed over the years until 1918 when the first Table of Public Statutes as we currently know it was published.

    1899 – 1914

    The first table of statutory amendments was included in the 1899 sessional volume under the name Table of Changes. This table shows amendments made that year to all public acts and all acts from the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1886. Subsequent tables follow this convention up to and including the 1914 sessional volume.

    1914/1915 – 1917

    The 1914/1915, 1916 and 1917 sessional volumes show amendments in two separate tables. The Table of Acts shows amendments to acts contained in the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1906 and the Table of Public Statutes shows amendments to all other public acts made between 1907 and 1917.

    1918 – Present

    The 1918 sessional volume was the first time that amendments to all public acts from revision years and annual volumes were reflected in a single table under the name Table of Public Statutes. The table shows amendments to RSC 1906 and all other public acts made between 1907 and 1918. From that point on, the format and content of the table is consistent.

    Where is it within the text?

    The table of changes is always situated in between the Public General Acts and the Local & Private Acts. In the earlier volumes, this tends to be towards the middle, but from 1918 on, it tends to be closer to the back of the volume. In the mid-sixties they started using different paper to help differentiate the table allowing it to be found more easily within the text.


    Before tables were included, finding amendments involved looking at each volume’s index. From 1892 to 1898 amendments are listed in the index under “ACTS, amended or repealed”. Pre-1892 amendments can only be found by looking through the index of each sessional volume under the name of the act or by subject of the act.



    Tables of legislative changes have been published in the Statutes of the Province of BC since 1920. That first table in 1920 shows amendments to acts from the Revised Statutes of BC, 1911 and all public acts from the annual volumes for 1912 to 1920. From that year forward all sessional volumes include a Table of Public Statutes (or Table of Legislative Changes as it is now called).

    The table is located at the end of the volume after both the Public and the Private & Local Acts and has always been printed on differently colored paper making it easy to find at a glance.


    From 1893 to 1911, amendments from each year were listed in the index at the back of the sessional volume under the name of the act they amended. Pre-1893, there was no detailed index at the back of sessional volumes – only a title index at the beginning. Amending acts were noted there.


    Statutes of the Province of BC KP22 - https://opac.courthouselibrary.ca/Catalogues/CatView.aspx?id=8507&noAuthRedir=1

    Acts of the Parliament of Canada KP2.S7

  • Asked & Answered: What is a McKenzie Friend?

    by Megan Smiley | Jan 18, 2017
    Asked & Answered is a collection of answers to tricky legal research questions, written by Courthouse Libraries staff. Search Asked & Answered here.


    A McKenzie friend is a person who sits alongside someone appearing in court without a lawyer – a ‘self-represented litigant’. Their role is to provide practical and emotional support during the court process by helping to keep the self-represented litigant organized, calm and focused.  Anyone can act as a McKenzie Friend but generally it is a trusted family member or friend, and ultimately their presence in the courtroom is allowed only at a judge’s discretion. 

    What can a McKenzie friend do?

    If a judge does give permission, a McKenzie Friend can sit at the front of the courtroom and:

    • take notes;
    • assist in organizing documents and pass them along when needed;
    • pay attention to the courtroom discussion;
    • communicate with the self-represented litigant via notes or whispering (as infrequently as possible to avoid being perceived as disruptive by the judge).

    McKenzie Friends may do all or just some of the above, but above all it is important to decide on their roles and your expectations beforehand.

    How to ask permission for a McKenzie friend?

    The National Self-Represented Litigants Project’s publication The McKenzie Friend: Choosing and Presenting a Courtroom Companion provides a practical guide to choosing the right person and asking permission from a judge. This resource includes an example of a self represented litigant’s request to have a McKenzie Friend in the courtroom, an explanation of what judges must consider in allowing one, and a list of reasons why a judge may decide to refuse.

    The most important thing to keep in mind is that a McKenzie Friend is there as a support person, not to take the place of a lawyer. They are not able to give legal advice, or speak directly to the court except in very rare cases where a judge deems it appropriate. Even in cases where language comprehension is an issue, each circumstance is judged on a case-by-case basis. There are no predictable outcomes or set of criteria that determines whether they will be permitted or to what degree they may assist, and a self-represented litigant should be prepared to go it alone in case the judge denies the request.


    Bring a Friend to Court: A Guide (McKenzie friend and BC Supreme court chambers) -

    The McKenzie Friend: Choosing and Presenting a Courtroom Companion -

    Guidelines for Using a Support Person in Provincial Court


Megan is a librarian at Courthouse Libraries BC.  

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