Provincial Court of BC - Notice to the Profession and Public: COVID-19: Commencing Recovery of Some Court Operations

From The Provincial Court of British Columbia:

Effective Date: 28 April 2020 (unless otherwise stated in this Notice)

NP 19

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

The Provincial Court of British Columbia recognizes that the Province is still in a Provincial State of Emergency, and there are continued 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 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.

Please read the full NP 19 at provincialcourt.bc.ca