Q&A — Provincial Court

COVID-19 has led to changes in BC's legal system Please see our new COVID-19 updates section for detailed information.

After putting much on hold in March 2020, the Provincial Court of British Columbia has re-opened but with new ways of doing things. Some matters scheduled from May 19, 2020 will move forward in some way on their original dates. Previously adjourned hearings, conferences, and trials are being re-scheduled. Family hearings scheduled for after July 3rd will proceed by telephone on the original date scheduled. Trials scheduled for after July 3rd may proceed in court on the original date scheduled.

The Provincial Court registries are now open for in-person filing of documents, although the court still prefers alternate methods of filing if possible. Send your documents by email or mail to your local court registry, by fax to a fax filing registry, or by using Court Services Online where available.

Most proceedings are being conducted remotely, meaning you'll "attend" your hearing by a phone call from the court, a conference call through Telus, or an audioconference or videoconference through Microsoft Teams. A small number of courtrooms have re-opened throughout the province for some proceedings.

Filing deadlines, limitation periods, and mandatory time periods (to start a court case) are still suspended.

For full information, please see our Provincial Court during COVID-19 page.

During the period of reduced court operations due to COVID-19, you don't need to swear or affirm an affidavit that you're filing to support your request for an urgent family hearing. You must still take care to ensure your affidavit is accurate and true. During the hearing to decide if your application is considered urgent, or during the hearing on your application if it does move forward, the judge will likely require you to swear or affirm that the contents of your affidavit are true.

The only exception are Affidavits of Personal Service which need to be sworn/affirmed before filing if the person who served the documents won't be attending the hearing.

If you need to suspend or change child or spousal support because of a COVID-related change in income, you may take advantage of a new early resolution/expedited court process. If you and the other person can agree to change your existing agreement or order, you can get help preparing a written agreement or a consent order package for the court. If you can’t agree, the court will arrange a hearing by phone or videoconference for you, more quickly than usual.

To apply for this process, contact Family Justice Services to schedule a needs assessment interview at 1-844-747-3963 or 250-356-7012 (Victoria). You can also send an email to CSVariation@gov.bc.ca.

If you want changes to child or spousal support for reasons not related to COVID-19, you can't use this process. Instead, make an application through your local Provincial Court registry.

See the Provincial Court website for more details.

 

COVID-19 has affected many stages in the child protection process for those working with the ministry on the child's plan of care. For full information about hearings, conferences, and trials, see Child protection during COVID-19.

The time periods (limitation periods) in which family actions must usually be started have been suspended during the provincial state of emergency. Judges also have the power to extend other time periods. If you think you may have missed a deadline (to respond to an application, for example), contact the court registry immediately and find out:

  • if you have a court date, and if you can still file, or
  • if you can make an application to extend the time period.

It's a good idea to contact a lawyer immediately as well (see Who to call or Where to go).

Don't see your question here? Email us.

Page last updated: July 20, 2020.

Videos

This 7-minute video is for people wondering if they should go to Provincial Court during COVID-19.
Get more help

For more information about Provincial Court of BC operations, see the COVID-19 page on the court website.