Supreme Court of BC Resumption of Trial Management Conferences - Civil and Family Matters (Revised)

  • May 21, 2020

COVID-19 Notice No. 23
Date: revised May 21, 2020

Highlighted changes:

  • Clarifications regarding jury selection and jury trials

This notice replaces the following notice:

  • COVID-19 Notice No. 20 – Civil and Family Matters – Resumption of Trial Management Conferences and Trials, dated May 13, 2020

Introduction

On March 19, 2020, the Supreme Court of British Columbia suspended regular operations to protect the health and safety of court users and to help contain the spread of COVID-19. All civil and family matters scheduled for trials, conferences, and chambers applications or other hearings between March 19 and May 29, 2020 were adjourned, unless the Court otherwise directed. See the Court’s COVID-19 Notice #8.

The COVID-19 Notice #8 also states that the suspension of regular operations and adjournment of trials scheduled on or before May 29, 2020 necessarily suspended the usual timeframes under the Rules for holding trial management conferences (“TMCs”), filing trial briefs, and filing trial certificates, as these timeframes all count back from the scheduled trial date. In addition, COVID-19 Notice #8 states that trials scheduled after May 29, 2020 will also be affected and that further directions will be provided. This Notice provides further directions on these matters.

The Court is now preparing to resume some regular operations as set out in its COVID19 Notice #22. During this transition, to allow the Court and parties time to prepare for the resumption of operations, the Court is extending the adjournment only for civil and family trials scheduled to begin between June 1 and June 5, 2020. While the Court is taking all steps necessary to prepare to hear trials scheduled on or after June 8, 2020, the Court cannot guarantee that matters will proceed as scheduled. The Court’s ability to hear trials scheduled on or after June 8, 2020 will continue to be subject to developments that may occur during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, civil jury selections are suspended and civil jury trials are cancelled up to and including September 7, 2020 everywhere in the province pursuant to COVID-19 Notice #22. Until further notice, parties are not required to submit jury fees. Since resumption of jury selections must precede resumption of jury trials, jury trials may be further delayed.

For civil matters where a jury notice has been filed and served, a party wishing to proceed by judge alone may schedule a TMC or a judicial management conference (“JMC”) and apply to have the jury notice set aside. A party wishing to continue with a trial by jury can oppose such an application and apply to adjourn the trial. If all parties consent to proceeding by judge alone this may be addressed at a TMC or a JMC. To schedule a TMC for such an application the party must follow the steps set out in Part IV of this Notice and to schedule a JMC for such an application the party must follow the steps set out in Part V of this Notice.

Effective May 13, 2020, Chief Justice Hinkson directs that:

  • TMCs that are already scheduled to take place on or after June 1, 2020, may proceed by telephone in accordance with the process set out in Part II of this Notice.
  • TMCs that were scheduled to take place between March 19 and May 29, 2020 and were adjourned, for family trials that are scheduled to begin on or after June 8, 2020, may be rebooked in accordance with the process set out in Part III of this Notice.
  • TMCs that were scheduled to take place between March 19 and May 29, 2020 and were adjourned, for civil trials that are scheduled to begin on or after June 8, 2020, may be rebooked in accordance with the process set out in Part IV of this Notice.
  • Civil and family trials that were scheduled and were adjourned due to the suspension of the court’s regular operations may be dealt with in accordance with the process set out in Part V of this Notice.

The Chief Justice also ordered that until the conclusion of the Court’s suspension of regular operations, certain requirements in the Supreme Court Civil Rules and the Supreme Court Family Rules regarding the timing of certain TMCs and the timeframes for filing and serving trial briefs (civil matters), trial records, and trial certificates have been amended for TMCs and trials scheduled to begin on or before July 24, 2020. In addition, requirements in the Supreme Court Civil Rules and Supreme Court Family Rules, which require either attendance in person or an application to exempt a person from attending in person, do not apply to TMCs held during the Court’s suspension of regular operations. See the Court’s order dated May 13, 2020, found here.

I. THE PURPOSE OF A TMC

Given the wide-ranging impacts of COVID-19, the Court recognizes that it is important in these times to hold TMCs to assess whether parties are ready or able to proceed to trial and how the trial may be conducted efficiently within the requirements of public health orders and guidelines. Properly completed trial briefs will assist the Court in making orders setting out a plan for how the trial should be conducted.

It is important to note, however, that holding a TMC does not guarantee that a civil or family trial will proceed on the scheduled date.

II. WHAT HAPPENS TO TMCS THAT ARE SCHEDULED TO TAKE PLACE ON OR AFTER JUNE 1, 2020

If a TMC is already scheduled to take place on or after June 1, 2020, for a civil or a family matter, that TMC will take place on the scheduled date and will be heard by telephone. Parties must file and serve their trial brief, trial record and trial certificate pursuant to Part III of this Notice for a family matter and Part IV of this Notice for a civil matter.

III. FAMILY MATTERS: WHAT HAPPENS TO TMCS THAT WERE ADJOURNED

If a TMC was scheduled to take place between March 19 and May 29, 2020 and was adjourned by virtue of the Court’s COVID-19 Notice #8 and a trial is scheduled to begin on or after June 8, 2020, then that TMC may be rebooked to be heard by telephone by following the steps in Part A below. Trial briefs, trial records, and trial certificates must be filed and served in accordance with Part B below.

A. Rebooking a TMC:

To rebook a TMC a party (“Rebooking Party”) must:

  • Make efforts to contact the opposing party to determine a mutually agreeable date for the TMC, and then rebook the TMC online. The date of the TMC must be scheduled according to the following:
    • If the trial is scheduled to begin between June 8 and June 26, 2020, the TMC must take place at least 7 days before the scheduled trial date. (In other words, the timeframe in Rule 14-3(1) of the Supreme Court Family Rules has been shortened.)
    • If the trial is scheduled to begin between June 29 and July 17, 2020, the TMC must take place at least 14 days before the scheduled trial date. (In other words, the timeframe in Rule 14-3(1) of the Supreme Court Family Rules has been shortened.)
    • If the trial is scheduled to begin between July 20 and July 24, 2020, the TMC must take place at least 21 days before the scheduled trial date. (In other words, the timeframe in Rule 14-3(1) of the Supreme Court Family Rules has been shortened.)
  • Once a TMC has been rebooked, the Rebooking Party must file and promptly serve on all other parties a requisition in Form F17 with the following information:
    • the date and time of the TMC;
    • the venue at which the TMC was rebooked but also state that the TMC will be heard by telephone; and
    • the phone numbers of all parties by which they may be contacted for the hearing of the TMC.

B. Filing Trial Briefs, Trial Records and Trial Certificates:

The timeframes for filing and serving trial briefs, trial records, and trial certificates for family law cases are set out below. Parties are encouraged to e-file their documents through Court Services Online. See COVID-19 Notices #8 and #12 for more information on e-filing and other methods of filing.

Trial Brief:

All parties must file and serve their trial briefs in Form F45 at least 7 days before the date set for the TMC pursuant to Rule 14-3(3) of the Supreme Court Family Rules. This applies to trial briefs for all TMCs scheduled to take place on or after June 1, 2020.

Trial Record:

If a trial is scheduled to begin between June 8 and July 24, 2020, the party who filed the notice of trial must file and serve the trial record at least 1 day before the scheduled trial date. (In other words, the timeframe set out in Rule 14-4(3) of the Supreme Court Family Rules has been shortened.)

If the trial is scheduled to begin on or after July 27, 2020, the timeframes for filing and serving the trial record have not been shortened and the party who filed the notice of trial must file and serve the trial record in accordance with Rule 14-4(3) of the Supreme Court Family Rules: file the trial record at least 14 days before but not more than 28 days before the scheduled trial date, and promptly after filing, serve a copy of the filed trial record on all parties.

Trial briefs must be included in the trial record in accordance with Administrative Notice #13.

Trial Certificate:

If a trial is scheduled to begin between June 8 and July 24, 2020, each party must file a trial certificate in Form F46 at least 7 days before the scheduled trial date, and promptly after filing, serve a copy of the filed trial certificate on all parties. (In other words, the timeframe set out in Rule 14-5(2) of the Supreme Court Family Rules has been shortened.)

If the trial is scheduled to begin on or after July 27, 2020, the timeframes for filing and serving the trial record have not been shortened and each party must file the trial certificate in Form F46 pursuant to Rule 14-5(2) of the Supreme Court Family Rules: file the trial certificate at least 14 days before but not more than 28 days before the scheduled trial date, and promptly after filing, serve a copy of the filed trial certificate on all parties.

If the trial certificate must be filed and served before or on the date of the TMC, the parties may complete paragraph 4 of the trial certificate, which currently requires parties to certify that a trial management conference has been conducted in this family law case, as follows:

“4. A trial management conference has been conducted in this family law case: N/A Due to COVID-19 a trial management conference has not been conducted in this family law case but is scheduled to take place on [insert date].”

Unless the court otherwise orders, a trial must be removed from the trial list if no trial certificate has been filed within the timeframe set out in this Notice or pursuant to Rule 14-5 of the Supreme Court Family Rules, as applicable.

IV. CIVIL MATTERS: WHAT HAPPENS TO TMCS THAT WERE ADJOURNED

If a TMC was scheduled to take place between March 19 and May 29, 2020 and was adjourned by virtue of the Court’s COVID-19 Notice #8 and a trial is scheduled to begin on or after June 8, 2020, then that TMC may be rescheduled to be heard by telephone following the steps in Part A below. Trial briefs, trial records, and trial certificates must be filed and served in accordance with Part B below.

A. Rebooking a TMC:

To rebook the TMC a party (“Rebooking Party”) must:

  • Make efforts to contact the opposing party to determine a mutually agreeable date for the TMC, and then rebook the TMC online. The date of the TMC must be scheduled according to the following:
    • If the trial is scheduled to begin between June 8 and June 26, 2020, the TMC must take place at least 7 days before the scheduled trial date. (In other words, the timeframe in Rule 12-2(1) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules has been shortened.)
    • If the trial is scheduled to begin between June 29 and July 17, 2020, the TMC must take place at least 14 days before the scheduled trial date. (In other words, the timeframe in Rule 12-2(1) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules has been shortened.)
    • If the trial is scheduled to begin between July 20 and July 24, 2020, the TMC must take place at least 21 days before the scheduled trial date. (In other words, the timeframe in Rule 12-2(1) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules has been shortened.)
    • If the trial is scheduled to begin on or after July 27, 2020, the timeframe for scheduling the TMC is not shortened, and the TMC must take place at least 28 days and not more than 120 days before the scheduled trial date pursuant to Rule 12-2(1) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules.
  • Once a TMC has been rebooked, the Rebooking Party must file and promptly serve on all other parties a requisition in Form 17 with the following information:
    • the date and time of the TMC;
    • the venue at which the TMC was rebooked but also state that the TMC will be heard by telephone; and
    • the phone numbers of all parties by which they may be contacted for the hearing of the TMC.

The parties of record may, no later than 14 days before the date set for the TMC, apply under Rule 8-3(1) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules and in accordance with Practice Direction 51 for an order by consent dispensing with the need for a TMC. If a party intends to bring an application to dispense with the need for a TMC, they must still rebook a TMC as set out above. Trial briefs filed as part of such an application must include a sufficient amount of detail to give the Court confidence that all issues have been addressed. (In other words, parties should follow the process set out in Rule 12-2(3.4) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules.) If this application would need to be filed by Monday May 18, 2020, the party may file and serve it by Tuesday May 19, 2020 to accommodate the fact that May 18, 2020 is a statutory holiday. All other timeframes will continue to apply as set out in this Notice or pursuant to the Supreme Court Civil Rules.

B. Filing Trial Briefs, Trial Records and Trial Certificates:

The timeframes for filing and serving trial briefs, trial records, and trial certificates for civil law cases are set out below. Parties are encouraged to e-file their documents through Court Services Online. See COVID-19 Notices #8 and #12 for more information on e-filing and other methods of filing.

Trial Brief:

If the TMC is scheduled to take place between June 1 and July 24, 2020, the timeframes for filing and serving the trial brief as set out in Rules 12-2(3) and 12-2(3.1) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules have been shortened as follows:

  • The plaintiff must, at least 14 days before the date for the TMC: (a) file a trial brief in Form 41, and (b) serve a copy of the filed trial brief on all other parties of record. If a party is required to file and serve a trial brief by Monday May 18, 2020, the party may file and serve by Tuesday May 19, 2020 to accommodate the fact that May 18, 2020 is a statutory holiday.
  • Each party of record, other than the plaintiff must, at least 7 days before the date for the TMC: (a) file a trial brief in Form 41, and (b) serve a copy of the filed trial brief on all other parties of record.

If the TMC is scheduled to take place on or after July 27, 2020, the timeframes for filing and serving the trial brief in Form 41 have not been shortened and all parties must file and serve their trial brief pursuant to Rule 12-2(3) and (3.1) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules.

Unless the court otherwise orders, a trial must be removed from the trial list if no trial brief has been filed within the timeframes set out in this Notice or pursuant to Rule 12- 2(3) and (3.1) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules, as applicable.

Trial Record:

If a trial is scheduled to begin between June 8 and July 24, 2020, the party who filed the notice of trial must file and serve the trial record at least 1 day before the scheduled trial date. (In other words, the timeframes set out in Rule 12-3(3) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules have been shortened.)

If the trial is scheduled to begin on or after July 27, 2020, the timeframes for filing and serving the trial record have not been shortened and the party who filed the notice of trial must file and serve the trial record pursuant to Rule 12-3(3) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules: file the trial record at least 14 days before but not more than 28 days before the scheduled trial date, and promptly after filing, serve a copy of the filed trial record on the other parties of record.

Trial briefs must be included in the trial record in accordance with Administrative Notice #13.

Trial Certificate:

If the trial is scheduled to take place between June 8 and July 24, 2020, each party must file a trial certificate in Form 42 at least 7 days before the scheduled trial date, and promptly after filing, serve a copy of the filed trial certificate on all parties of record. (In other words, the timeframe set out in Rule 12-4(2) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules has been shortened.)

If the trial is scheduled to begin on or after July 27, 2020, the timeframes for filing and serving the trial certificate have not been shortened and each party must file the trial certificate pursuant to Rule 12-4(2) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules: file the trial certificate at least 14 days before but not more than 28 days before the scheduled trial date, and promptly after filing, serve a copy of the filed trial certificate on all parties of record.

If the trial certificate must be filed and served before or on the date of the TMC, the parties may complete paragraph 4 of the trial certificate, which currently requires parties to certify that a trial management conference has been conducted in this action, as follows:

“4. A trial management conference has been conducted in this action: N/A Due to COVID-19 a trial management conference has not been conducted in this action but is scheduled to take place on [insert date].”

Unless the court otherwise orders, a trial must be removed from the trial list if no trial certificate has been filed within the timeframe set out in this Notice or pursuant to Rule 12-4 of the Supreme Court Civil Rules, as applicable.

V. WHAT HAPPENS TO TRIALS THAT WERE SCHEDULED TO OCCUR AND WERE ADJOURNED

This part of the Notice applies to civil and family trials that were scheduled and were adjourned by virtue of the Court’s COVID-19 Notice #8 and Notice #22, and that have not already been rebooked.

In order to reschedule adjourned trial dates, parties must do 1 of the following: rebook trial dates following the steps in Part A below OR schedule a JMC to be heard by telephone following the steps in Part B below.

A. Rebooking Trial Dates

Parties should contact Supreme Court Scheduling by phone at the registry where the trial was to be held to rebook the trial based on availability as follows:

  • Before rebooking trial dates, the party seeking to rebook (“Rebooking Party”) must make efforts to contact all other parties to determine mutually agreeable dates for the trial.
  • When the Rebooking Party calls to schedule the trial, they must advise Supreme Court Scheduling of their file number, the registry location and whether a judge is seized of or assigned to the matter.
  • Once trial dates have been scheduled, the Rebooking Party must file and serve promptly on all other parties a notice of trial pursuant to Rule 12-1 of the Supreme Court Civil Rules and Rule 14-2 of the Supreme Court Family Rules.

Registry contact information can be found online here.

Parties are encouraged to e-file their notice of trial through Court Services Online. See COVID-19 Notices #8 and #12 for more information on e-filing and other methods of filing.

B. Scheduling a JMC

Effective Tuesday May 19, 2020, parties may schedule a JMC online to be heard by telephone as follows:

  • Before scheduling a JMC, the party seeking a JMC (“Scheduling Party”) must make efforts to contact all other parties to determine a mutually agreeable date for the JMC.
  • Once a JMC has been scheduled, the Scheduling Party must file and promptly serve on all other parties a requisition in Form 17 for civil law matters and Form F17 for family law matters at least 7 days before the JMC. The requisition:
    • must note the fact that a JMC has been scheduled, the date and time of the JMC, the venue at which the JMC was booked but also state that the JMC will be heard by telephone, and the phone numbers for all parties by which they may be contacted for the hearing of the JMC; and
    • may list the documents to support the requisition, such as previously filed trial briefs, trial records and trial certificates, if applicable.

One of the purposes of a JMC is to foster a candid discussion about the management of the case during COVID-19 and options on how to move the matter forward. Examples of what may be discussed include: rebooking trial dates, issues of urgency, narrowing of issues, and alternative dispute resolution options. As stated in the introduction of this Notice, for civil matters where a jury notice has been filed and served, a party wishing to proceed by judge alone may also use the JMC to apply to have the jury notice set aside.

Registry contact information can be found online here.

Parties are encouraged to e-file their requisition through Court Services Online. See COVID-19 Notices #8 and #12 for more information on e-filing and other methods of filing.

THE FOREGOING IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE. ANY UPDATED DIRECTIONS WILL BE POSTED ON THE COURT’S WEBSITE.

Dated May 21, 2020 at Vancouver, British Columbia

By Direction of Chief Justice Christopher E. Hinkson
Supreme Court of British Columbia