Helping patrons with court forms

In order to start or continue a court case, people need to find, complete, and file court forms with the courthouse registry. Members of the public who are doing their court case by themselves – also known as self-represented litigants – may have questions about these forms. This guide will help you answer questions about where to find forms, which forms your patron needs, and how your patrons can fill the forms out. The online and print resources tabs provide direct links to resources that can help you in this aspect of your reference work.

Court forms are divided by area of law and court level. This means different forms are needed depending on what area of law and what court level a person is working in. Most frequently, questions for court forms are in the areas of family law, civil law, and probate (a subset of civil law). Both family law and civil law court cases can take place at the Provincial Court and the Supreme Court level. Civil law provincial court is called Small Claims Court.

The first step to finding the appropriate forms is to find out what area of law the legal problem falls under and at what court level. Not sure? Use Clicklaw’s Court rules, forms, and self-help guides to court procedures infographic to find out!

BC court forms are freely available online through the BC Government in PDF format. You can also find direct links to the forms through Clicklaw, a freely available online resource that provides legal information from trusted, BC-focused agencies and specialists.

 BC Court Forms
 Clicklaw
  • BC court forms are organized by area of law and court level. Click on the one you need to bring up a full list of court forms.
  • Clicking on the hyperlinked name of a form will start a download of the form as a fillable PDF. Your patron can fill out the form on the computer. Most forms can also be printed and filled out by hand, with some exceptions, like the Supreme Family court form Registration of Divorce Proceedings, which must be typed to be accepted by the court registry.
  • The forms are listed in alphabetical order by name. The number of the court form is provided next to the name.

Don’t have access to a PDF reader? Court forms are also available in other formats.

Plain text

The court rules provide plain text versions of the forms which patrons can fill out and file with the registry. These forms are not fillable online; patrons will need to copy the forms into a Word Doc to edit and fill out the forms.

  • Supreme Civil Court Forms: the forms are listed in order by form number. Click on the link to bring up the plain text version.
  • Supreme Family Court Forms: the forms are listed in order by form number. Click on the link to bring up the plain text version.
  • Probate Court Forms: the forms are listed in order by form number. Click on the link to bring up the plain text version.
  • Small Claims Court Forms (Provincial Civil Court): the forms are listed in order by form number. Click on the link to bring up an image of the form which can be printed.
  • Provincial Family Court Forms: the forms are listed in order by form number. The full text of each form is listed on the page sequentially. You can scroll to the correct form or use the Ctrl+F search to find the right form.
Word

Some court forms are available in Word format which patrons can fill out and file with the registry.

  • Supreme Civil Court Forms: CLBC can provide many Supreme Civil Court Forms in Word format from one of our subscription databases. Please contact our reference desk to request a copy!
  • Supreme Family Court Forms: the JP Boyd on Family Law Wikibook provides some Supreme Family Court Forms in Word format. Forms are listed in alphabetical order by name.
  • Provincial Family Court Forms: the JP Boyd on Family Law Wikibook provides some Provincial Family Court Forms in Word format. Forms are listed in alphabetical order by name.

The Ministry of the Attorney General provides online access to the BC court forms and is responsible for any technical and usability problems with them. They’ve provided this online guide to help with troubleshooting the forms, but restrictions on your public access computers (PACs) may cause additional issues regarding downloading, saving and editing forms.

Here are some troubleshooting tips that you may find helpful:

  • Internet Explorer is recommended for viewing and filling in the forms in a browser. Although other browsers such as Google Chrome and Safari can be reconfigured to support the forms, many patrons find this difficult. Using Internet Explorer makes the forms immediately accessible.
    1. Note: if a patron works in the browser they will still need to save their work!
  • Opening the forms usually requires a pdf reader (e.g. Adobe reader) and downloading documents to the computer drive. Some PACs will restrict this kind of use.
  • Patrons may need reminding that their work is not saved online or on a downloaded file. To save their work, they should email the forms to themselves or save copies to a personal drive.

Also check out Common Questions about the Supreme Court PDF forms on Legal Aid BC’s Family Law website. These tips and tricks are useful for all Supreme Court Forms, not just family forms.

Which court forms your patron needs depends on what area of law their legal problem is in and what court level they are working in. Each court level has different legal issues they can address; for example, if your patron wants to do their own divorce, they will need to go to Supreme Family Court, not Provincial Family Court.

Not every legal problem needs the same court forms; depending on what your patron is trying to do, different forms will be needed. For example, a patron doing their own divorce will need different forms than a patron changing a court order. There are many resources available online and in print which can help you find out what court forms your patron needs for their specific legal issue. Check out the Online Resources and Print Resources tabs for links!

Note that as a librarian, you cannot tell patrons which court forms are needed as this would qualify as legal advice. You must always have a reliable legal information resource to point to, even if you already know the answer.

As a librarian you can help troubleshoot technical issues, guide patrons to the forms, and help with ‘de-mystifying’ the forms (i.e. help patrons understand them). It is outside your role to help patrons complete court forms or advise on what to include. This type of help is considered legal advice and is provided by legal professionals. However, some of the resources you can use to determine which court forms are needed will also give some guidance on filling the forms out as well. Check out the Online Resources and Print Resources tabs below for help!

Sometimes patrons will ask if there are completed examples of forms available to help them fill out their own forms. Unfortunately, completed examples are usually not available. However, the JP Boyd on Family Law Clicklaw Wikibook has completed examples for some of the more commonly used forms..

Some advocates and organizations offer help to members of the public needing to fill out court forms. One organization you can refer patrons to is Amici Curiae (AC) Friends of Court, which offers free court form help and is available virtually throughout the province. Use Clicklaw’s HelpMap to search for an advocate in your area that can help with filling out court forms or those who provide remote assistance via telephone or video.

These resources can help you determine which court forms are needed and provide some useful guidance for patrons filling out the forms. Make sure to double check the court level when showing patrons a resource! If a patron is doing something in Supreme Family Court, you want to make sure the resource is specifically for that court level and area of law.

 Civil Law Court Forms
 Family Law Court Forms
 Probate and Estate Court Forms

These titles are available at Courthouse Libraries BC branches throughout the province and possibly in your collection through LawMatters. If your library does not have a copy, please refer your patron to CLBC! You can check our catalogue to see if the title is available at a branch near you.

Civil Law Court Forms
Family Law Court Forms
Probate and Estate Court Forms

Guide to civil litigation by Evin Ross

The conduct of civil litigation in British Columbia by Peter Fraser, John W Horn, and Susan A Griffin

British Columbia court forms by Fred Irvin, Beverley M McLachlin, James P Taylor

JP Boyd on family law: resolving family law disputes in British Columbia by John-Paul Boyd

British Columbia family practice manual by the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC

Guide to wills & estates by Evin Ross and Gabrielle M Komorowska

British Columbia probate and estate administration practice manual by the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC