Request for Input: COVID-19 and the BC Court System

  • May 04, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and amplified many inequities in our BC court system that contribute to the ongoing access to justice crisis in this province. These include concerns with maintaining phone-in booking of hearing dates and the impacts of interim court practice reforms adapting to the pandemic.

The CBABC Court Services Committee (CSC) and Access to Justice Sub-Committee (A2JC) have requested member input on several ongoing areas of concern.

The CBABC CSC has asked for input from members on the following:

  • Please provide examples or recent stories of any problematic experiences with court phone-in or email booking for hearings (primarily in the BC Supreme Court).
    • Include experiences dealing with the assize system used in several BC court registries that may compound scheduling problems.

For example, one lawyer reported that a matter scheduled for trial peremptorily on the defendant for a recent two-week assize in a smaller supreme court location was the subject of a hotly-contested adjournment application by the defendant. The judge ultimately dismissed the adjournment application, but as a result of the assize system, the judge had already been reassigned and the trial did not proceed. The matter has since been relocated to a different court registry for the third scheduled trial date because all assize dates in the local registry are filled.

  • Please provide input on potential solutions to booking problems (for example, moving to an online system).
    • Include examples of your experience with booking practices in other Canadian jurisdictions as comparators.

The CBABC A2JC has asked for input from members on the following:

  • Please provide specific examples of how changes to the justice system catalyzed by COVID-19 have inhibited, rather than enhanced, access to justice in British Columbia.
    • Examples would include any adverse impacts on access to justice in British Columbia caused by new filing procedures, new in-person hearing protocols, the increased use of remote hearings, or other changes to the justice system catalyzed by COVID-19.

Please be aware the CBABC CSC and A2JC may reproduce information from your responses in future submissions to relevant decision makers. All responses will be listed anonymously unless you specifically request your name be included in any future submission.

Please provide a response to Dustin Klaudt at advocacy@cbabc.org by Tuesday, May 18, 2021.