Courthouse Closures Due to COVID-19

By Matthew Canzer
Categories: Blog

Effective this morning, March 19 2020, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia announced the temporary suspension of regular court operations to help contain the spread of COVID-19. A similar announcement was made on March 17, 2020 by the Provincial Court of British Columbia and the Court of Appeal for British Colmbia.

Our clients should rest assured that we are monitoring the situation and taking every measure available to ensure that you continue to receive excellent legal services with as minimal disruption as possible.

In this Legal Alert we will review the temporary measures implemented and explain how they may affect your matter.

What matters are affected?

In the Supreme Court of British Columbia, all civil, criminal, and family matters scheduled for hearing, including trials until May 1, 2020 are adjourned.

In the Provincial Court of British Columbia all civil and family matters scheduled for hearing, including trials, until May 4, 2020 are adjourned. Out of custody criminal matters scheduled for hearing until May 16, 2020 are adjourned, however in-custody criminal matters, including trials, will proceed. All traffic, ticket or bylaw matters scheduled until May 4, 2020 are adjourned.

In the Court of Appeal for British Columbia, all civil and criminal appeals scheduled for hearing until May 1, 2020 are adjourned.

In all courts, matters deemed or designated “essential or urgent” will proceed, or as otherwise directed by the court.

If your matter is adjourned your lawyer will schedule a new hearing as soon as possible, however we do not yet know when the courts will resume normal operations or when rescheduling will begin. We expect that there will be a backlog of matters to be rescheduled and it may be some time before we can obtain new dates for hearing. We will keep our clients apprised of developments and we appreciate our clients’ patience.

During this period filing deadlines for matters already underway are suspended, however limitation periods continue to apply. If you believe that you are at risk of an expiring limitation period, contact a lawyer right away. While we expect that the Court will exercise some flexibility once normal operations resume, we cannot guarantee that you will receive an extension of time.

What matters are considered “essential and urgent”?

Family Proceedings

  • Orders relating to the safety of a child or parent due to risk of violence or immediate harm;
  • Orders relating to the risk of removal of a child from the jurisdiction; and
  • Orders relating to the well-being of a child, such as essential medical decision, urgent issues relating to parenting time, and contact or communication with a child that cannot be reasonably delayed.

Civil Proceedings

  • Matters related to public health and safety and COVID-19;
  • Refusal of treatment and end of life matters;
  • Civil detention of individuals;
  • Emergency adult guardianship and committeeship orders;
  • Housing evictions and interim stays of orders of possession;
  • Civil restraining orders;
  • Preservation orders;
  • Urgent injunction applications; and
  • Urgent orders in the nature of habeas corpus, certiorari, mandamus and

Criminal Proceedings

  • Bail, bail review, and s.525 detention hearings;
  • Habeas corpus applications; and
  • Search warrants, arrest warrants, and other authorization for surveillance applications that should not be delayed.

Other matters may be considered “essential and urgent” by the presiding judge on a case-by-case basis.

If you are an existing client and believe that your have an urgent or essential matter that must proceed before May 1, 2020 please contact your lawyer by email.

If you are not an existing client and believe that you have an urgent or essential matter that must proceed before May 1, 2020, please contact one of our lawyers by email:

Where can I find updated information?

This is a rapidly evolving situation and we anticipate receiving further notices and updates from the Court. Such notices are available to the public:

We remain committed to providing our clients with legal services with as minimal disruption as possible during these uncertain times. If you have questions or concerns about a new or ongoing legal matter, please contact your lawyer by email. We look forward to connecting with you.