Court of Appeal for BC: Notice to the Public Regarding Modified Filing Directions in Civil and Criminal Appeals

  • July 07, 2020

1. Introduction

This Notice provides directions on filing documents in civil and criminal appeals. Beginning 14 July 2020 this Notice rescinds and replaces the directions described in section 3.2 of the Notice to the Public Regarding the Court of Appeal’s Response to Covid-19 dated 7 July 2020.

Beginning 14 July 2020, and despite Rule 54.1(5), all documents in civil appeals must be electronically filedby counsel using Court Services Online (CSO). Paper, fax, or email filings described in Section 3.8 of this notice are permitted only in the following cases:

  • Self-represented litigants, who are encouraged but not required to use the e-filing system;
  • Any civil appeals involving publication bans or sealing orders;
  • Any document in civil chambers that exceeds 300 pages;
  • Any document in a civil appeal larger than 100MB in size;
  • Condensed books filed in advance of the hearing of a civil appeal in accordance with Section 3.6 below;
  • Any other documents as may be directed by the Registrar to be filed in paper in larger appeals where the record exceeds, or is expected to exceed, 8,000 pages.

As e-filing remains unsupported for criminal appeals, any criminal filings must be received in paper, by fax, or by email as described in section 3.8 below.

2. Mandatory e-Filing for Counsel in Civil Appeals

2.1 Getting Started: Obtain a Court Services Online (CSO) Account

Parties who have never used electronic filing must create a BCeID account (either a Basic or Business account) or a BC Online account and register it with Court Services Online. Anyone having difficulty with electronic filing should contact Court Services Online Support either by email Courts.CSO@gov.bc.ca or call toll free within Canada 1-800-663-6102 for assistance. Please do not contact the registry for assistance with electronic filing. The registry will not be able to assist you.

2.2 Formatting Requirements for e-Filed Documents

All documents filed through Court Services Online (CSO) must be in Portable Document Format (PDF) and must comply with the following requirements:

  • Be Less than 100MB in Size: Limitations to the e-filing system do not allow documents larger than 100MB to be filed;
  • True Copies: Provide a legibly reproduced true representation (i.e., an identical or true copy) of the original document, whether that original is scanned from paper or saved into PDF from another program, such as Microsoft Word;
  • Comply with Court Forms: Format documents in accordance with court forms , except for certain paper-based requirements that are dispensed with as described below in Section 2.3;
  • Page Numbered: Number pages so that the PDF page numbering matches the actual page numbering of the document (i.e. PDF page “25” of the electronic appeal book brings up page “25.” To achieve this, do not assign page numbers to the title page, instead assign “page 1” to the first page of argument/content). Place PDF page numbers in the top centre of each page;
  • Avoid Scanning: Only scan documents where necessary. Do not scan factums, submissions or other documents that have been created electronically because hyperlinks will be lost. If scanning is necessary because the original document is in paper, the scan must be Optical Character Recognized (OCR’ed) so that the PDF can be copied and pasted into another document;
  • Do not Enable Security Settings: Do not incorporate any file properties or activate any security settings that might restrict or prevent the Court from viewing, printing, saving, annotating, or searching the electronic document;
  • Hyperlinked Index and PDF Bookmarks: Any indexes prescribed by Court forms must be hyperlinked to the contents of the document. Any document over 50 pages must also include PDF bookmarks. Such bookmarks must consistently, meaningfully, and clearly describe the individual documents or sections of the document. For example, it is not acceptable in an affidavit to bookmark to “Exhibit 1,” Exhibit 2” etc. The index should describe the contents of each section: e.g.: “Exhibit 1 – Letter from John to Jane Doe.” The document must be set to open the bookmarks automatically on opening the file.

There is no requirement to internally hyperlink different filings (i.e. hyperlink a factum to an appeal book)and the e-filing system does not currently support this capability. Case authorities in factums, statements or submissions may continue to be hyperlinked externally (i.e. to pdf versions of CanLII decisions); however, the Court will now also require a complete PDF book of authorities.

Court of Appeal guides for using Adobe DC Pro to meet these requirements are available here. There are also many low-cost or free alternatives to the Adobe software. Additionally, anyone preparing PDF documents to file with the Court of Appeal can email the Canadian Bar Association BC branch at members@cbabc.org for assistance using Adobe software to meet the above requirements.

2.3 Changes to Court Rules and Directivesfor e-Filed Documents

This Notice changes several rules and requirements related to service and filing for civil appeals. All requirements set out in the Court of Appeal Rules and Practice Directives that cannot be met when documents are filed electronically, (e.g. requirements to file copies of documents, or to bind documents like the factum in specific ways) are suspended. For greater certainty, the following requirements are suspended:

  • Volumes: There is no need to split files less than 100 megabytes into 300/200 page “volumes.” For example, a book of authorities should be a sequentially numbered single PDF file of less than 100MB, not split into multiple 200 page files;
  • Use Alternative Forms of Signature: Except for affidavits, orders, and statutory declarations, documents filed solely with a typewritten signature (e.g., "Joan Smith") satisfy the signature requirement. Alternatively, scanned signatures are acceptable for all documents, including affidavits, orders and statutory declarations;
  • No Transcript Extract Books: Do not file a Transcript Extract Book under Rule 27. The parties mustuse the condensed book process described in section 3.6 below;
  • No Coloured Covers: Coloured covers of books or documents are not required;
  • Limited Retention of Paper Versions: The requirement to retain the paper version of the document submitted electronically under Rules 54.1 (6), (7), or (9) is modified. If the party can prove, to the satisfaction of the Court, that the record has been securely kept in electronic format (such as PDF/A), the party only needs to retain the electronic version.

In addition, the following Practice Directives do not apply to electronic filings:

3. Limitations and Exceptions to E-Filing

3.1 Optional E-Filing for Self-Represented Litigants

Self-represented litigants are encouraged to electronically file their records in accordance with the terms of this directive. However, self represented litigants may also file using the methods described insection 3.8. Access Pro-Bono has a dedicated appeals program. If you require assistance contact Heather Wojcik 604-424-8286. You can also visit www.accessprobono.ca or call 604-878-7400 or 1-877-762-6664 to find out more information about Access Pro-Bono emergency telephone clinics that have been set up in response to COVID-19.

3.2 No e-Filing in Criminal Appeals

Court Services Online (CSO) is presently unable to accept criminal appeals for electronic filing. File using the methods described in section 3.8.

3.3 Limited e-Filing in Civil Appeals Involving Publication Bans or Sealing Orders

Parties may optionally file the Notice of Appeal or Notice of Application for Leave to Appeal electronically using Court Services Online (CSO). Include a letter within the e-filing package that describes the exact nature of any publication bans or sealing orders (as required by Publication Bans and Sealing Orders (Civil Practice Directive, 4 June 2018)). However, all subsequent filings must use the methods described in section 3.8 below.

3.4 No e-Filing for Documents that Exceed 300 Pages in Civil Chambers

No document may be electronically filed in chambers if that document exceeds 300 pages. If the document exceeds this size, it must be filed in paper (in person or by courier/agent) in accordance with Section 3.8 below.

3.5 No e-Filing Documents Exceeding 100MB in Civil Appeals

Court Services Online (CSO) has a 100MB limit on the size of electronically filed documents. This size limitation will cover about 80% of the Court’s electronic filings. If the document is larger than 100 MB, the material cannot be electronically filed and must be submitted in paper in accordance with Section 3.8 below. Do not attempt to file multiple volumes of a document through the e-filing system or file a portion electronically and a portion in paper. For larger appeals in excess of 8,000 pages, see Section 4 below.

3.6 Mandatory Condensed Books in Civil Appeals

For civil appeals where factums, transcripts, or appeal books have been e-filed, parties must file paper copies of a condensed book for the Court to use in the appeal hearing in accordance with Section 3.8 below.

Parties should file three (3) copies and serve their condensed books on the opposing parties at least seven (7) business days before the hearing of the appeal. The requirement in Condensed Books (Civil & Criminal Practice Directive, 19 September 2011) that they be handed up in Court is dispensed with. The Condensed Book may contain documents essential to the hearing, but only those that must be physically shown to the Court, including those excerpts from transcript, appeal book and authorities that the party will refer to in its oral argument.

3.7 Limitations on e-Filing of Electronic Media in Civil Appeals (Soundand Video Exhibits)

Occasionally, there may be a need to include electronic media in appeal books, such as audio or video recordings. The process for doing this with paper filings is described in Electronic Media in Appeal Books (Civil & Criminal Practice Directive, 13 May 2016). Presently, the e-filing system will not allow parties to embed multimedia within PDF documents. Accordingly, parties must indicate in the appeal book index that electronic media is being submitted separately and must submit the related electronic media by providing four identical memory sticks (labeled with the appeal file number #CAXXXXX). These may be submitted in accordance with Section 3.8 below.

3.8 Fax, Paper,and Email Filings (Only Where Permitted by Sections 3.1 –3.7)

For those exceptions outlined in sections 3.1 to 3.7 only, parties may file documents in the following ways:

  • By Fax: In the case of filings that are less than 20 pages, by fax in accordance with Use of Facsimile in the Court of Appeal (Civil & Criminal Practice Directive, 19 September 2011), with the understanding that the prohibition on filing bound materials does not apply;
  • By Email: For Factums, statements, transcripts, appeal records, and appeal books only, by sending PDF copies less than 25MB by e-mail to CACounter@bccourts.ca. Any emailed documents must observe all requirements in Section 2.2 above, including those filed by self-represented litigants.
  • Paper Copies in Person or by Mail/Courier/Agent: Please check here to determine whether the registry counter is open for business or closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. If the registry counter is open, documents must be filed at 400 – 800 Hornby Street. If the Registry counter is closed, documents must be filed at 206 - 800 Smithe Street. Note the registry may not process these filings for at least 24 hours, given COVID-19 risks, but will backdate documents to the date they were postmarked or delivered. Please do not deliver any copies besides those required by the Court. You will receive an email attaching a scan of the stamped cover page as confirmation that the document is filed and, for that purpose, you must provide an email address on the cover of the document to be filed. You should serve the remaining copies of your document together with a copy of the stamped cover page.

4. Case Management of Larger Appeals

If an appeal involves, or is anticipated to involve, more than 8,000 pages of material, parties must seek directions from the Registrar as soon as possible and not less than 90 days prior to the hearing of the appeal.

5. Registry Contact Information

General Inquiries: 604.660.2468
Maria Littlejohn, Court Scheduler: 604.660.2865
Manjit Gunglay, Chambers Scheduler: 604.660.2859
Kristine Dhamrait, Registrar Scheduler: 604.660.2729
Fax filings: 604.660.1951

Mail or Courier to the Vancouver Registry (check here to see if the Registry is open or closed during regular hours)

If the Registry Counter is open:

BC Court of Appeal
The Law Courts
400 – 800 Hornby Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
V6Z 2C5

If the Registry Counter is closed due to COVID-19:

BC Court of Appeal
The Law Courts
206 - 800 Smithe Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
V6Z 2E1

Dated 7 July 2020, at Vancouver, British Columbia

By Direction of Robert J. Bauman
Chief Justice of British Columbia