Court of Appeal for BC: Notice Regarding Access to Court Proceedings during the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • April 12, 2021

Download a PDF of this Notice

This Notice replaces all previous Notices to the Public Regarding Access to Court Proceedings during the COVID-19 Pandemic

1. Access to Video conference, in Courtroom, or Teleconference Proceedings
  • The Court’s weekly hearing list and chambers list are updated daily and indicate which matters are proceeding by video conference, in the courtroom or by teleconference.

Access to Video Conference Proceedings

  • Members of the public may watch most video conference hearings. To join a video conference hearing as an observer, click the public link provided on the Court’s weekly hearing list and follow the instructions to download Zoom, if necessary. The public link may not be posted on the weekly hearing list until the morning the video conference is set to proceed. In order to maintain appropriate decorum during a video conference proceeding, the judges and the people making submissions to the court will not be able to see or hear the people observing.

Access to Hearings in the Courtroom

  • On 9 November 2020 the Chief Justice of British Columbia directed that all appeals proceed by video conference unless otherwise directed.
  • In rare instances where the Chief Justice directs that the an appeal will be heard in the courtroom, any person who wishes to observe the hearing should monitor the BC Court of Appeal announcements page for any special instructions e.g. regarding overflow space or telephone access.
  • To observe matters proceeding in the courtroom, check the Court’s weekly hearing list or the bulletin board in the lobby at 800 Smithe Street. The lists will indicate the name of the proceeding, the mode of hearing and, if applicable, the courtroom number.
  • The Court has made adjustments to the physical facilities in the courtrooms to ensure hearings will comply with public safety guidelines. Anyone wishing to observe a hearing in a courtroom should be aware that because of social distancing guidelines, usually no more than seven observers may be accommodated at one time.
  • People attending courthouses in British Columbia are required to wear a face mask or face covering in all public spaces, including in courtrooms unless the presiding judge, justice, master or registrar directs otherwise. For more information see section 5 of the Notice Regarding Modified Court of Appeal Procedures Due to COVID-19 and Ministerial Order No. M425.

Access to Teleconference Proceedings

  • To observe matters proceeding by teleconference submit a Request to Attend Teleconference Proceedings no later than 12 noon the day before the hearing date. Late requests cannot be processed in time to respond with the dial-in information you will need.
  • Note that counsel are permitted to share connection details with their co-counsel and clients if they will be listening from separate phones, however, connection details should not be shared with anyone else. Counsel are asked to inform the registry if they require connections for more than 10 separate telephones.

Policy on use of electronic devices in courtrooms

  • The Court's Policy on the use of electronic devices in courtrooms applies to all court proceedings including those conducted remotely by video or teleconference. This means that members of accredited media may audio record proceedings for the limited purpose of verifying their notes. Any other audio or video recording of the proceeding including screen shots or other photographs is prohibited. Anyone who uses an electronic device in a manner prohibited by the policy is subject to sanction, including prosecution for contempt of court.
2. Media Participation in Court Proceedings

In any appeals where the media wishes to make submissions, such as where a publication ban is opposed or challenged, accommodations for participation will be arranged in the same manner as for other parties, detailed in the Notice Regarding Modified Court of Appeal Procedures due to COVID-19.

3. Media Access to Digital Audio Recordings (DARS)
  • Any requests for access to court audio recordings (post-hearing) by accredited media should be made by completing the usual access to audio request form and attaching a remote access to DARS undertaking to the automatically generated email before submitting the request. Requests will be processed by Court Services Branch personnel in the usual manner. If access is granted the requestor will receive an email confirmation and a link to a digital FTP site to remotely access the requested audio recording.
4. Access to Court Records
  • The Court will continue processing requests for access to the court record in the usual manner as prescribed under the Court of Appeal’s Record and Courtroom Access Policy.

Dated 9 April 2021, at Vancouver, British Columbia
By Direction of Robert J. Bauman
Chief Justice of British Columbia