Q&A — Supreme Court

Until further notice, operations of the Supreme Court of British Columbia have been changed as follows:

Hearings

  • Family matters scheduled for hearing between March 19, 2020, and May 29, 2020, have all been adjourned. However, the court will hear some of these matters if a telephone conference hearing would be suitable. You must ask the court to reschedule the hearing.
  • The court is dealing with new family matters if they’re essential or urgent. If a judge decides a new matter is essential or urgent, a hearing will be held by telephone or video.

Other court operations

  • The court is processing some family applications during the current suspension period. Read more here.
  • Filing and service deadlines, limitation periods, and mandatory time periods (to start a court case) are suspended until May 29, 2020.
  • All jury selections are cancelled until May 31, 2020, everywhere in the province.
  • The court will give more instructions at a later time about trials that are currently scheduled to take place after May 29, 2020.
  • All in-person registry services are suspended.

The telephone hearings will only deal with one disputed issue and/or issues on which the persons agree. The issue(s) must be able to be addressed by one affidavit per person no longer than ten pages each and everyone involved must be available for the hearing.

Before scheduling a telephone conference hearing (TCH), you must try to contact the other person(s) to set a date for it. If you can, try to narrow any disputed issue ahead of time to make best use of the hearing.

  1. Set a date by completing an online COVID-19 Telephone Conference Hearing Form.
    Your form must include:
    • The date the matter was originally scheduled to be heard;
    • What was originally scheduled to be heard (trial, conference, chambers application, other hearing);
    • A brief description of the disputed issue;
    • The order(s) you want;
    • Any other issues still in dispute;
    • If any issues will be proceeding by consent (agreement);
    • If everyone agrees to the date for the TCH; and
    • A list of documents to be used for the TCH, including pleadings (such as a petition, a response to petition, a notice of civil or family claim, a response to civil or family claim, a reply, a counterclaim, a response to counterclaim, a third party notice, and/or a response to third party notice).
  2. If the TCH will be about a disputed issue, you must file one sworn affidavit, no more than ten pages long, setting out the key facts.
  3. Submit the form and affidavit by email (see contact emails below), or by e-filing using Court Services online, using the new drop boxes inside each courthouse, mailing to the nearest Supreme Court registry, or faxing to a fax filing registry. Court Services Online will also allow e-filing through the use of a Basic BCeID account. More information can be found here.
  4. You must serve the completed Form, a copy of this Notice, a sworn affidavit (if filed), and any written submissions not exceeding ten pages on the Responding Party eight business days before the TCH.

Contact Supreme Court by email:

KAMLOOPS - sc.scheduling_ka@BCCourts.ca

  • Cranbrook, Golden, Nelson, Revelstoke, Rossland, Salmon Arm

KELOWNA - sc.scheduling_ok@BCCourts.ca

  • Penticton, Vernon

NANAIMO - sc.scheduling_na@BCCourts.ca

  • Campbell River, Courtenay, Port Alberni, Powell River

NEW WEST - sc.scheduling_nw@BCCourts.ca

  • Chilliwack

PRINCE GEORGE - sc.scheduling_pg@BCCourts.ca

  • Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Quesnel, Williams Lake

VANCOUVER - sc.family_va@BCCourts.ca OR sc.civil_va@BCCourts.ca

VICTORIA - sc.scheduling_vi@BCCourts.ca

  • Duncan, Prince Rupert, Smithers, Terrace

Currently, the court will generally only consider new matters that include:

  • orders involving the safety of a child or parent due to a risk of violence or immediate harm (such as protection orders, conduct orders, or exclusive possession of the home)
  • orders involving the risk of removal of a child (such as relocation, non-removal, wrongful removal, or denying parenting time); and
  • orders involving the well-being of a child (such as medical decisions, urgent issues about parenting time, contact, or communication with a child that can’t reasonably be delayed).

To request the hearing of a new essential or urgent matter, submit an online Request for Urgent Hearing Form. The judge will decide if a hearing is required. You and the other person(s) will appear at the hearing by telephone where possible and appropriate, or by video where appropriate and available.

If it isn’t possible to use the online form, you may use the process for submitting paper documents (see below). Paper copies of the form are available at every Supreme Court registry, and are located next to the new drop boxes inside each courthouse. If you are using a paper form, you must also submit:

  • an unfiled draft (appropriate) form of application which identifies what orders the party is seeking; and
  • an unfiled draft affidavit which sets out the key facts describes the urgency, and if needed, states whether the other person(s) have been notified of this request for an urgent hearing.

To request the hearing of a new essential or urgent matter, submit an online Request for Urgent Hearing Form. The judge will decide if a hearing is required. You and the other person(s) will appear at the hearing by telephone where possible and appropriate, or by video where appropriate and available.

If it isn’t possible to use the online form, you may use the process for submitting paper documents (see question and answer below). Paper copies of the form are available at every Supreme Court registry, and are located next to the new drop boxes inside each courthouse. If you are using a paper form, you must also submit:

  • an unfiled draft (appropriate) form of application which identifies what orders the party is seeking; and
  • an unfiled draft affidavit which sets out the key facts describes the urgency, and if needed, states whether the other person(s) have been notified of this request for an urgent hearing.

All Supreme Court courthouses continue to receive documents for family matters.

The court encourages e-filing using Court Services online. Court Services Online will also allow e-filing through the use of a Basic BCeID account. More information can be found here.

Submit paper documents by using the new drop boxes inside each courthouse, mailing to the nearest Supreme Court registry, or faxing to a fax filing registry.

The Supreme Court knows that during the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be impossible or medically unsafe for you to go to a commissioner, a lawyer, or the courthouse to have an affidavit sworn. (Swearing an affidavit means taking an oath that the contents of it are true to the best of your knowledge and belief, and doing this in front of a person with the legal authority to administer your oath.) For example, at this time you may be unable to leave your house, not be permitted to receive visitors, or be required to self-quarantine. If you are unable to follow physical distancing measures while swearing an affidavit, you may use the following video procedure. The court is allowing this method for affidavits ONLY FOR A LIMITED TIME.

The procedure uses video technology (such as that on a cell phone or computer) and must be followed exactly:

  1. You must put this paragraph at the end of the body of the affidavit:
    The deponent was not physically present before the commissioner, but was linked with the commissioner using video technology and the correct process for remote commissioning of affidavits was used.
  2. While connected through video technology, you must show the commissioner the front and back of your current government-issued photo ID. (The commissioner will then compare the video image of you with the ID to make sure it’s you, and check that your ID is valid. The commissioner will also take a screenshot of the front and back of your ID.)
  3. You and the commissioner must both have a copy of the affidavit, including all exhibits, in front of you while connected by video. To do this you can email the affidavit to the commissioner beforehand.
  4. You and the commissioner must review each page of the affidavit and exhibits to confirm that the pages are identical and if so, must then initial each page in the lower right corner.
  5. The commissioner will administer the oath, you will answer any questions from the commissioner, and then swear or affirm the truth of the facts. The commissioner must then watch you sign your name on your copy of affidavit.
  6. You must then send the signed affidavit with exhibits electronically to the commissioner. (For example, you may scan the pages on your computer or take pictures of them with your phone, and then email them.)
  7. The commissioner will compare each page received from you with their own pages, sign their copy, and then attach everything with a certificate that says it was impossible or unsafe, for medical reasons, for the two of you to be physically present together.
  8. Follow the court directions for filing your affidavit. Or submit your affidavit by using the new drop boxes inside each courthouse, mailing to the nearest Supreme Court registry, faxing to a fax filing registry, or e-filing using Court Services online.

Don't see your question here? Email us.

Page last updated: Thursday, April 23, 2020, 12:30 hrs

Get more help

For more information about Supreme Court of BC operations, see the COVID-19 Notices and COVID-19 Announcements about Family matters and applications, on the Court's website.