CPD 3: Complex Criminal Cases

  • November 25, 2022

Supreme Court of British Columbia

Criminal Practice Direction
Complex Criminal Cases

Number: CPD - 3
Effective Date: 2022/11/25

This Criminal Practice Direction describes the process by which the Court will manage large or complex criminal cases that show a potential to occupy a very significant amount of court time or to risk delays in reaching and concluding the trial.

The process will begin with case management for each such case from a very early stage, to ensure that the case progresses as it should and that any voir dires and pre-trial applications, as well as the trial itself, begin promptly and conclude within a reasonable time. The Court may, where appropriate, conduct parallel or simultaneous proceedings in the same case before two different judges.

Each complex criminal case that is subject to this practice direction will have a case management judge who will conduct periodic case management conferences beginning when the case first arrives in the Court. The case management judge will also conduct an application screening conference at which he or she will determine which, if any, voir dires or pre-trial applications will be heard, the timelines for notice and other procedural steps, the general form of the evidence in the hearings of the voir dires and pre-trial applications, and the schedule for those hearings and for the trial.

The new approach will require the active and extensive involvement of Crown and defence counsel from shortly after the accused person’s first appearance in the Court. It will usually require that the Crown disclose its case at or shortly after the first appearance and be ready to proceed to trial not long afterwards. Similarly, defence counsel will need to be retained, instructed, and dedicated to the preparation of the defence at that early stage.

The practice direction refers mainly to prosecutions of criminal charges. However, it should be read as applying also to any extradition proceedings that meet the indicated criteria.

Download CPD 3