COVID-19 Court Recovery Operations

Government and the judiciary are increasing in-person attendance and registry services at court locations across the province.

Last updated: July 17, 2020

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In-Person Operations

All Superior and Provincial Court registries expanded in-person operations on July 13, 2020, in accordance with guidelines from the Provincial Health Officer, WorkSafeBC and the Public Service Agency.

Since June 8, 2020, those entering a courthouse are subject to a pre-screening process that includes answering specific questions regarding health and travel.

  • Access to the courthouse may be restricted or delayed at the discretion of the sheriff and/or direction of the judge based on health and safety considerations and maximum building occupancy

To protect the health and safety of courthouse employees and court users, registries will continue to accept filings through Court Services Online, mail, email or fax.

  • Court users are encouraged to use those options wherever possible
  • Contact your local court registry for more information

In-Person Courtroom Locations

Since June 8, 2020, both the Superior Courts and Provincial Court have been gradually increasing in-person attendance in 41 locations across the province.

Additional courtrooms for in-person attendance continue to be added as they become available. These locations include:

North

  • Prince George, Williams Lake, Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Smithers, Terrace, Quesnel, Prince Rupert and Burns Lake

Interior

  • Kelowna, Kamloops, Vernon, Nelson, Penticton, Golden, Cranbrook, Rossland and Salmon Arm

Vancouver Coastal

  • Court of Appeal, 222 Main Street, Robson Square, Downtown Community Court, Vancouver Law Courts, North Vancouver, Sechelt, Pemberton

Fraser

  • Surrey, Abbotsford, Port Coquitlam, Richmond, Chilliwack, New Westminster

Vancouver Island

  • Victoria, Nanaimo Campbell River, Duncan, Courtenay, Port Hardy, Port Alberni, Powell River, Western Communities

Ongoing Measures to Support Access to Justice

Government and the judiciary continue to explore additional actions.

Indigenous Courts

Government and the Provincial Court are in discussions about possible alternate locations for Indigenous Courts.

Traffic Violation Tickets

Government is working with the Provincial Court to hear disputed violation tickets, including by using off-site locations or at courthouses after hours and on weekends.

Circuit Courts

Assessments have been underway since late June and will continue through July as Circuit Courts across the province are assessed for health and safety and readiness for operations.

Jury Support

The Court Services Branch is working with the Supreme Court of BC to ensure juries for criminal trials are managed in a way that respects the health and safety requirements of the Provincial Health Officer and the Public Service Agency.

The result will be a jury management plan for the recommencement of criminal jury trials. Recommendations will address issues related to criminal jury trials and examine each stage of jury management, including pre-trial, jury selection, trial, deliberation/sequestering and jury discharge.


Expectations for Those Attending Courthouses

All persons should enter a courthouse via the door that is the court’s street address or as directed by sheriffs.

Those entering may be subject to a verbal screening process that includes answering specific questions regarding health and travel.

Access to the courthouse may be delayed or restricted at the discretion of the sheriff and/or direction of the judge based on health and safety considerations and maximum building occupancy.

Attendees are encouraged to bring face masks or face coverings wherever possible.

  • If you do not have a face mask, one will be available upon request, subject to availability
  • If you are wearing a face mask or face covering, Sheriffs may direct you to lower the covering to confirm your identity

Court attendees are to maintain 2 m of physical distance during the screening process.

Food and beverages are still not permitted in the courtroom.

  • Counsel, parties, witnesses and interpreters may bring water in clear bottles up to one litre

Witnesses will be affirmed by default. 

  • If an oath is desired, the witness must bring in their own Holy Book, other religious book or sacred object to court
  • The witness will take the article with them when leaving court

Courtrooms may be re-configured to accommodate physical distancing and may involve different seating arrangements.

  • Please abide by the new courtroom configurations and follow the directions of the judge and/or sheriff, as acoustics and sight lines are a critical consideration for courtroom proceedings

Public Access and Media

All efforts will be made to provide public access to the courthouse and court proceedings.

  • Depending on the number of people wanting to access a courthouse or courtroom, entry may be restricted or delayed so as to ensure Public Health guidelines can be met
  • In-person attendance is subject to compliance with physical distancing protocols within individual courtrooms

Discussions Ongoing

The Attorney General, Chief Judge and Chief Justices and Courts Services Branch regularly meet to discuss continued access to justice.

  • The increased in-person attendance supplements existing telephone and videoconferencing facilities that support hearings and remote hearing alternatives, such as web-based videoconferencing and Microsoft Teams that are currently in use

More Information

Check the BC Centre for Disease Control website for information about symptoms, facial masks, physical distancing, hand hygiene and other timely topics.

Consult the websites of the relevant court for updated directions and notices.