By LawMatters, Courthouse Libraries BC
Courthouse Libraries recently hosted Supporting Self Represented Litigants in Provincial Court: Resources and Q&A. Using a fictional narrative, presenters demonstrated online legal information resources available for anyone dealing with Provincial Court matters without the help of a lawyer. If you didn’t have a chance to attend the live session, you can view the recording on CLBC’s Vimeo channel, linked above.
Here, we’ll highlight some of the resources that were covered. However, first, we’d like to let you know of a follow-up webinar with Legal Aid BC. We’ll provide an overview of their resources for Provincial Court with a focus on publications available in print and online. Here are the details:
Legal Aid BC Resources for Self-Represented Litigants in Provincial Court
Tuesday, April 5th, 2:00-3:00 PM (PST)
This 1-hour interactive webinar will highlight the range of free, plain language and trustworthy legal advice and information resources available from Legal Aid BC for self-represented litigants in Provincial Court (i.e people navigating court without a lawyer). This webinar will focus on Legal Aid publications, which are available both online and in print, which can help intermediaries supporting self represented litigants.
Our presenters, Megan Smiley and Rachel Carlson from Courthouse Libraries BC’s LawMatters Program and Patricia Lim from Legal Aid BC (LABC) will use narrative scenarios to demonstrate how to use these sources in supporting clients who are representing themselves in court.
Intermediaries, advocates, public librarians, law students, and general practitioners are all welcome to attend. LSBC members attending this session may claim up to 1hr of CPD.
For people looking to find out more information about the Provincial Court, the types of legal matters it hears, and general court functions, the court website is a great place to start. You’ll find information on how to conduct oneself in court, including how to dress, how to address the judge, and how to attend virtual proceedings in Microsoft Teams. Note the page on Going to Court is particularly helpful for practical tips.
The Provincial Court also produces small articles via their E-News, which includes tips on what to expect in court, how to prepare, changes in the law, and common questions.
The Provincial Court in BC can deal with most family law issues except for divorce or division of property, which must be addressed at Supreme Court. Matters that could appear in Provincial Court include financial support and parenting arrangement cases, protection orders, child protection, and orders regarding unpaid child or spousal support.
Where to start:
- Clicklaw: Where do I Start for Information on Family Court?
- This Common Question gives a summary of the types of family law matters Provincial Court deals with, as well as several good starting points to begin your research. Feel free to print out the handout for your reference!
- Provincial Court website: Family cases
- Resources for Family Cases: A comprehensive overview of resources for those going to family Provincial Court. This page has links to the court forms, guides to applying for court orders, an overview of the new Provincial Court Family Rules, links to other relevant legislation, and an explanation of what to expect at various Provincial family Court proceedings, such as Family Management and Family Settlement Conferences.
- Guide to Preparing for a Family Court Trial in Provincial Court: This guide provides information on the process of family court trials at the Provincial Court, from beginning to end.
Small Claims Court (aka Provincial Civil Court) deals with cases involving amounts from $5,001 to $35,000. Claims up to $5,000 or motor vehicle claims up to $50,000 usually go before the Civil Resolution Tribunal, while cases for amounts of $35,001 and above go before the Supreme Court.
Where to start:
- Clicklaw: Where do I Start for Information on Small Claims Court? This Common Question is a good starting point for those suing or being sued in Provincial Court. It provides a summary of the types of Small Claims cases Provincial Court deals with. Feel free to print out the handout for your reference!
- Provincial Court website: Small Claims Cases
- Guide to Preparing for BC Small Claims Court: This guide has both a Claimant and Defendant’s guide, as well as sample documents for expert reports, witness notes, and counterclaim.
- Resources for Small Claims Cases: This page has information on enforcing Small Claims payment orders, evidence in Small Claims, links to relevant legislation, guides to preparing for court including preparation checklists in multiple languages, and what to expect at various Small Claims proceedings including Settlement and Trial Conferences.
Traffic, Ticket & Bylaw
The Provincial Court deals with three types of tickets: provincial violation tickets such as traffic offences, federal contravention tickets such as fishing without a license, and municipal tickets for bylaw offences. Those who have been ticketed can conduct their own hearings to dispute it.
Where to start:
- Clicklaw: Where do I start for information on Traffic, Ticket, and Bylaw Court? This Common Question gives you a summary of the distinct types of tickets in BC and some basic starting points to search for information. Feel free to print out the handout for your reference!
- Provincial Court website: Traffic, Ticket and Bylaw Cases
- Resources for Traffic, Ticket, and Bylaw Cases: This page includes links to court forms, relevant laws, and guides to disputing tickets.
- Ticket information in BC: One stop source for ticket information, online tool helps you explore information about your ticket anonymously using guided pathways.
- Disputing a Ticket guide: This guide deals with Provincial violation tickets (traffic, liquor, etc.). The guide is in PDF and can be printed if needed.
Provincial Court oversees over 95% of all criminal cases in BC, except for adults charged with murder and rare offences such as treason, piracy, and inciting mutiny. This includes conducting bail hearings, preliminary hearings and trials, and sentencing.
- Clicklaw: Where do I Start for Information on Criminal Court? This common question provides good starting points for those with criminal cases at Provincial Court. Feel free to print out the handout for your reference.
- Provincial Court website: Criminal Cases
- Resources for Criminal Cases: This page includes links to helpful resources such as what to do if you are charged with a crime, how to prepare for criminal trial, picklists (i.e.: standardized terms for court orders), relevant laws, and victim support resources.
- Legal Aid BC: Representing Yourself in a Criminal Trial. A booklet explaining what happens when an accused person wants to plead not guilty to a summary (less serious) offence.
Hope this is helpful to you, and hope to see you on April 5th!
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