(Victoria Law Court/Google)

As of today, the B.C. Supreme Court is suspending regular operations at all locations in order to help protect court users from the risks of COVID-19 transmission.

This measure applies to civil and family hearings unless they are deemed urgent and essential by the Court following the filing of an application.

All civil and family hearings scheduled for hearing between March 19th and May 1st are adjourned, unless otherwise directed by the Court.

This applies to trials, conferences, chambers applications, and other hearings scheduled to take place before May 1st.

The following family matters are considered “essential and urgent” by the court:

  • Orders relating to the safety of a child or parent due to a risk of violence or immediate harm (e.g., a protection order, conduct orders, or exclusive possession of the home);
  • Orders relating to the risk of removal of a child from the jurisdiction (e.g., relocation, non-removal, wrongful removal or retention of a child); and
  • Orders relating to the well-being of a child (e.g., essential medical decisions, urgent issues relating to parenting time, contact or communication with a child that cannot reasonably be delayed).

The following civil matters are considered “essential and urgent” by the court:

  • Matters related to public health and safety and COVID-19, including orders under the Quarantine Act and orders under the Public Health Act.
  • Matters where there is a prima facie urgency, including:
    • refusal of treatment and end of life matters, including applications under the Health Care (Consent) and Care Facility (Admission) Act;
    • detention of individuals, including under the Mental Health Act and the Adult Guardianship Act;
    • emergency adult guardianship and committeeship orders, including under the Adult Guardianship Act and Patients Property Act;
    • housing evictions, including interim stays of orders of possession under the Residential Tenancy Act;
    • civil restraining orders;
    • preservation orders;
    • urgent injunction applications; and
    • urgent orders in the nature of habeas corpus, certiorari, mandamus and prohibition.

A two part procedure has been established for the hearing of urgent matters.

First, the applicant will submit a request to the Court for an urgent hearing using this online form.

Parties will then submit unfiled materials so that the Court can assess the urgency of the matter.

If the Court determines that the matter is essential and urgent and a hearing is required, they will set a date and direct the parties to file their materials electronically in accordance with a modified process.

Once the hearing has been set, all parties will be urged to appear by phone or video conferencing whenever possible.

As of Wednesday, all filing deadlines have been suspended until at least May 1st.