The existing scheduling model is based on processes designed with the anticipation that trials will actually proceed as scheduled. However, statistics show that only about 32% of criminal trials proceed as scheduled on the trial date. This rate of collapse is not unique to BC; most jurisdictions in Canada and the U.S. report roughly the same trial collapse rate. This collapse rate has been identified as a fundamental cause of court backlogs in BC, across Canada and in the U.S. Our existing scheduling model also focuses on the trial event, despite the fact that less than 5% of all cases filed result in a trial. The Court has examined scheduling changes made in other jurisdictions in Canada, such as Alberta, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador. Those changes were based on the introduction of a model that accepts a high trial collapse rate but incorporates features—mainly the use of an assignment court, coupled with the movement of “front-end” administrative activities out of the courtroom—which ensure that despite the collapse rate, most cases that are ready to be tried actually get to trial when they are called. Those other jurisdictions report that the scheduling changes have resulted in improvements in timely access to the court.
The Court recognized that there is a need to implement a similar scheduling model in BC.