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Posted: March 2, 2021

Province extends suspension of civil jury trials

The B.C. government is extending the current suspension of civil jury trials in the Supreme Court of B.C. by an additional year to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the courts, the Ministry of Attorney General reported March 2.

Under the temporary suspension, civil jury trials will resume on Oct. 8, 2022, with any trial taking place before this date to be heard by a judge alone. Plaintiffs and defendants are not able to adjourn cases to a later date to have the matter heard by a jury, unless the court orders otherwise.

This action was taken in consultation with the Supreme Court of B.C. Other provinces, including Alberta and Saskatchewan, have also temporarily suspended civil jury trials as a result of COVID-19.

At the same time, the province is clarifying the operation of court rules for civil jury trials. Starting on March 29, it will be possible to file jury notices for trials scheduled for Oct. 8, 2022, or later. Criminal jury trials resumed on Sept. 8, 2020.

The Ministry of Attorney General will also be considering whether there are areas of civil litigation where permanent elimination of civil jury trials may be appropriate.

Civil jury trials were suspended to help courts remain safe and minimize the impact of delays caused by COVID-19. B.C. courts continue to implement additional safety measures as a result of the pandemic, such as finding alternative locations or rearranging rooms to allow for physical distancing, installing plexiglass barriers and handwash stations in the courthouse, and carrying out enhanced cleaning and regular health screenings, a Ministry of Attorney General media release stated.

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