Vancouver – Chief Judge Melissa Gillespie announced that the Provincial Court of British Columbia is taking steps to reduce the number of in-person trials taking place in courthouses from January 10 through January 28, 2022, due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant and the possibility of staff shortages.
Details of procedures to be followed from January 10 until January 28 are set out in Notice NP 19, Court Operations During COVID-19 (January 10 to 28, 2022). Anyone with a matter scheduled in Provincial Court on or between January 10 and 28 should read Notice NP 19.
The Notice’s provisions include:
· Matters that have been scheduled to proceed virtually by audio (telephone) or videoconference will proceed on their scheduled dates.
· All in-person traffic, ticket and bylaw trials are adjourned for rescheduling without the disputant having to attend Court. Parties will be sent a new notice of hearing. Trials scheduled to proceed with both parties attending remotely will go ahead.
· For criminal trials, trial continuations, and preliminary inquiries involving people in custody, lawyers and self-represented litigants are to attend Court in person (or as otherwise scheduled) at 9:00 a.m. on the trial date to advise if they are ready to proceed. Witnesses and parties represented by lawyers are to wait outside the courthouse within a 30-minute distance, prepared to be called to attend court in person.
· In-person criminal trials, trial continuations, and preliminary inquiries involving people not in custody will be adjourned. The Court will contact participants by audio or videoconference at the time and date set for their trial to discuss next steps. Parties and lawyers must be available for this contact.
· In-person trials and trial continuations for family and small claims matters will be adjourned. The Court will contact participants by audio or videoconference at the time and date set for their trial to discuss next steps. Parties and lawyers must be available for this contact.
· Matters described as “proceeding” will be dependent on there being sufficient judges and court staff available, as well as the availability of participants.
Notice NP 19 also contains directions about child protection presentation hearings, criminal dispositions, parties wishing to have a trial or trial continuation proceed based on urgency, and circuit court hearings.