While trials and other in-person court hearings were postponed in B.C. earlier this month due to the surging number of COVID-19 cases, these hearings are once again resuming.
On Dec. 31, Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson announced in-person Supreme Court trials and other proceedings during the first week of January would be postponed, and the B.C. provincial court also followed suit. That direction has continued through several weeks of January.
But in-person civil and criminal matters resumed this week in B.C. Supreme Court, and in-person provincial court trials will pick back up again starting Jan. 31.
“Courts are essential services, and variants of COVID-19, including the Omicron variant, spread the same way as the original COVID-19, and the prevention and exposure control measures already in place in courts continue to be effective at reducing the risk of COVID-19 spreading,” wrote Chief Judge Melissa Gillespie of the Provincial Court of B.C. in a recent notice.
“Accordingly, trials, trial continuations, and all other matters will now proceed in person or virtually as set out below on the dates scheduled, subject to the availability of sufficient judges and court staff, as well as the availability of participants in the proceeding.”
Despite the resumption of most in-person matters, jury trials in Supreme Court have remained postponed.
Capacity limits will remain in place in courtrooms across the province.
A similar postponement of in-person proceedings occurred in B.C. courts in March 2020, causing widespread delays for a number of trials, and a backlog of cases.