Court Rules - British Columbia
Last revised January 27, 2020

The rules of court regulate the conduct of litigation in the courts. Courthouse Libraries BC has compiled the following guide to the court rules of BC.

Inherent Jurisdiction of the Courts

The rules are found within the inherent jurisdiction of the courts, the enabling legislation and the written rules.

The court has the jurisdiction to control its own processes. If a procedural matter is not covered by the written rules there may be a rule established by common law. Practice Directions/Directives also come from the inherent jurisdiction of the court. They do not have the same force of law as acts or regulations, however, litigants and practitioners are expected to comply with them.

Enabling Legislation

Section 92(14) of the Constitution Act, 1867 (The British North America Act, 1867) made the provinces responsible for the administration of the courts. The courts are established under provincial legislation. The BC acts are:

  • Court of Appeal Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 77
  • Provincial Court Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 379
  • Small Claims Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 430
  • Supreme Court Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 443
Current BC Court Rules

The Court Rules Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 80 gives the Lieutenant Governor in Council the authority to make rules by regulation. Also there are rules in the regulations made under the Criminal Code and the Family Relations Act. A rules committee is appointed by the Attorney General. They meet regularly, receive submissions and draft changes for the consideration of the Lieutenant Governor in Council..

The current BC rules are:

  • Court of Appeal Rules, B.C. Reg. 297/2001
  • Family Relations Act Rules and Regulations, B.C. Reg. 141/79
  • Patients Property Act Rules, B.C. Reg. 311/76
  • Provincial Court (Adult Guardianship) Rules, B.C. Reg. 30/2001
  • Provincial Court (Family) Rules, B.C. Reg. 417/98
  • Provincial Court (Child, Family and Community Service Act) Rules, B.C. Reg. 533/95
  • Official Reporters Regulation, B.C. Reg. 222/84
  • Small Claims Rules, B.C. Reg. 261/93
  • Supreme Court Civil Rules, B.C. Reg. 168/2009
  • Criminal Rules of the Supreme Court of B.C., SI/97-140
  • B.C. Rules of Practice Respecting Reduction in the Number of Years of Imprisonment without Eligibility for Parole, SOR/97-569
  • Provincial Court of B.C. Criminal Caseflow Management Rules, SI/99-104

Updating the Current Rules

Check the "current to" date if using the rules on the internet or British Columbia Annual Practice, then look for amendments after that date in Amendments to the Court Rules of British Columbia (KN352 A115 B75 A43) available in most courthouse libraries.

Noting Up Court Rules

When looking for judicial consideration of the court rules try using electronic sources such as the Keycite option on Westlaw (available on the computers in Courthouse Library branches). There is a noteup feature on CanLii. You can also do a keyword search in a database, which contains the full text of cases using significant words from the rule as your search terms. You may also want to check print sources such as the annotated versions of the rules and citators listed in the References.

History of the Supreme Court Rules of BC

The earliest known rules were the Rules and Manner of Proceedings of the Supreme Court of Civil Justice for Vancouver's Island, 1857 and the Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Rules, 1877.

The next set of rules were the Supreme Court Rules, 1880 which came into force November 15, 1880. They were made pursuant to the Judicature Act, S.B.C. 1879, c.12, s.17 which gave the Lieutenant Governor in Council the authority to make court rules. These were essentially a copy of the English rules. England revised their rules in 1883. BC followed suit, revising their rules in the 1890s. This time they copied the English rules and added some rules which were borrowed from Ontario. The Supreme Court Rules, 1890 came into force January 1, 1893. These were followed by the Supreme Court Rules 1906, 1925, 1943, 1961, 1976 and 1990. With each revision BC moved further away from the English rules.

Using the Old Rules

The old rules (1880-1975) were divided into Orders and Rules. Each rule was also given a marginal rule number, which is the number assigned to each rule in sequence and appears in the margin. In the old rules there are historical notes at the end of each rule. "M.R." refers to the marginal rule in the previous revision of the BC rules. "E.R." refers to the English rules.

A Tables of Concordance between 1976 & 1990 rules and the 1961 & 1976 rules can be found in the British Columbia Rules of Court and Related Enactments. A list of amendments to the court rules from 1976 onwards is available on request at the Vancouver Courthouse Library.

I. Colonial Rules

The Vancouver Courthouse Library has:

  • Vancouver Island Rules, 1858 (KN352 A115 G73 1858)
  • Vancouver Island Rules, 1865 (KN352 A115 G73 1865)
II. Provincial Rules

The Vancouver Courthouse Library has the following, shelved at KN352 A115 S8:

  • Supreme Court Rules, 1880 In force November 15, 1880
  • Supreme Court Rules, 1890 In force January 1, 1893
  • Supreme Court Rules, 1906 In force May 1, 1906 (The Library also has a 1912 consolidation of the 1906 rules)
  • Supreme Court Rules, 1925 In force September 1, 1925
  • Supreme Court Rules, 1943 In force July 2, 1943
  • Supreme Court Rules, 1961 In force January 1, 1961 (The library also has a 1972 and a 1975 consolidation of the 1961 rules)
  • Supreme Court Rules, 1976 In force February 1, 1977 (The library also has a 1989 consolidation of the 1976 rules)
  • Amendments to the 1976 Supreme Court Rules (B.C. Regs. 634/76, 635/76 and 517/79). These particular amendments were not published in the British Columbia Gazette, Part II.
  • Supreme Court Rules, 1990 In force September 1, 1990.

The Vancouver Courthouse Library also has the Supreme Court of British Columbia Divorce & Matrimonial Causes Rules 1877, shelved at KN173 A1151 B74 1877.

The Effect of New Rules on Court Proceedings
Legislation

Section 36(1)(b) of the Interpretation Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 238 states, "If an enactment (the "former enactment") is repealed and another enactment (the "new enactment") is substituted for it, every proceeding commenced under the former enactment must be continued under and in conformity with the new enactment so far as it may be done consistently with the new enactment. The definition of enactment can be found in section 1 of the Interpretation Act, it includes acts or regulations or portions of acts or regulations.

  • Transitional Provisions in the New Rules
  • Supreme Court Civil Rules, sections 9 and 10 of Appendix B (Re Costs)
  • Supreme Court Family Rules, see Rule 23-1
Noteworthy Cases
  • Robinson v. Robinson Estate, 2007 BCSC 408
  • Gook County Estates Ltd. v. Quesnel (City), 2007 BCSC 171
  • Burrardview Neighbourhood Assn. v. Vancouver (City), 2002 BCSC 1770
  • Interclaim Holdings v Down, 2002 BCCA 273, 169 BCAC 316
  • Halagan v. British Columbia (Securities Commission), 2002 BCCA 288, 168 BCAC 316
  • Jordan v. Jordan, 1998 CanLII 4799 (BCSC) 
Research in Other Jurisdictions:

The court rules in other Canadian jurisdictions and in England may be the same or very similar to those in BC and authorities from other jurisdictions may therefore be useful. The Vancouver Courthouse library has the court rules from all Canadian jurisdictions and England. The court rules from a number of jurisdictions are also available on the internet.

For annotated versions, see the following publications available in the Vancouver Courthouse Library.

Alberta
  • Civil Procedure Guide (KN353 A115 A425). Contains an annotated version of the Alberta Rules of Court.
Manitoba
  • Manitoba Queen's Bench Rules Annotated (KN355 A115 M341 A1). A looseleaf consolidation of the Manitoba rules with annotations.
Nova Scotia
  • Nova Scotia Civil Procedure Rules (KN359 A115 N682). This is a looseleaf annotated version of the Nova Scotia rules. It also contains practice directions and the Judicature Act.
Ontario
  • Ontario Annual Practice (KN356 A115 C45). Contains annotated Ontario court rules, related acts and practice directions. The publisher puts out a new edition each year. The Vancouver Courthouse Library has editions from 1966 to the present.
  • Holmested and Gale on the Judicature Act of Ontario and Rules of Practice Annotated (KN356 H645). This four volume looseleaf set contains an annotated version of the Ontario rules. Included in the notes for each rule are references to the corresponding rules in other provinces.
  • Holmested and Watson Ontario Civil Procedure (KN356 H646). This six volume looseleaf set includes annotated statutes and rules and practice directions.
Saskatchewan
  • The Queen's Bench Rules of Saskatchewan: Annotated (KN354 A115 S38). A looseleaf consolidation of the Saskatchewan rules with annotations.
Federal Court of Canada
  • Federal Court Practice (KN351 F4 F42). An annotated version of the Federal Court Act and Rules. The Vancouver Courthouse Library has editions from 1988 to the present.
Supreme Court of Canada
  • Supreme Court of Canada Manual (KN351 S8 S86). This looseleaf contains digests of recent decisions, an overview of the appeal process, annotated acts and rules, forms and notices to the profession.
  • Supreme Court of Canada Practice (KN351 S8 C72). Includes an annotated version of the rules for the Supreme Court of Canada. The Vancouver Courthouse Library has editions from 1991 to the present.
England
  • Civil Procedure (KN365 A115 A554). This is an annotated version of England's court rules. Previously known as The Supreme Court Practice and Annual Practice. Commonly known as the White Book. The Vancouver Courthouse Library has editions from 1892 to the present.
Committees and Working Groups
Rules Revision Committee

Members of the Committee are appointed by the Attorney General. They draft changes for the consideration of the Lieutenant Governor in council who enacts the regulations. A list of the members can be found in British Columbia Annual Practice.

For information about the establishment of the Committee, see The Advocate, (1973) vol. 31, editorials: p. 8-10 and 80-81 and "The New Rules of Court: The Background", The Advocate (1976) vol. 34, p. 117-19. Minutes of the committee's meetings are subject to Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy legislation. For more information about the minutes, contact the Chair of the Committee.

BC Justice Review Task Force

The Civil Justice Reform Working Group has been working on new court rules. The Vancouver Courthouse Library has a print copy of the draft of proposed rules.

 

References