Community Forum Series Final Report, by the LawMatters program, Courthouse Libraries BC

Community Forum Series Final Report

By LawMatters, Courthouse Libraries BC

Background and Webinar

In 2021 the Community Forum series was hosted in partnership by Courthouse Libraries BC (the LawMatters program), PovNet, and Legal Aid BC. These virtual meetings brought together advocates, community outreach workers and library workers to discuss common barriers our clients face in accessing the justice system, brainstorm potential solutions and establish and expand referral networks in each region or community.

A report was developed about what was learned during these sessions. This report presents key findings and common themes, and outlines next action steps by the organizers.

On Monday, May 30th, the organizers will be holding a webinar to discuss the findings of this report, and to facilitate discussions about how they can work together to ease people’s experience and increase access to justice. Intermediaries, advocates, library workers and other legal advocates will find these discussions useful.

May 16, 2022 update: Registration is now open. Please note that this session will be run as a meeting, not a webinar. Attendees will be invited to participate in the workshop in whatever way works best for them.

Findings from Community Forum Series

Report available here: Community Forum Report (PDF).

Among the findings:

  • There is an ever-increasing demand for community legal services and not enough services to keep up with this demand. Legal intermediaries (e.g. advocates and library workers) are continuously stretched to help members of the public navigate the justice system.
  • There is limited inter-connection among service providers and a general lack of awareness of services available in local communities and regions. Coupled with a high rate of turnover, it can be difficult to establish and solidify referral networks. More frequent regional-based contact could help strengthen those networks.
  • Indigenous people face systemic barriers to accessing services, and there is a need for more on-reserve and wrap-around services.
  • Many rural and remote communities lack lawyers and other legal services. Often, strict eligibility requirements for free or low-cost services mean that many people in these communities are unable to access them. These constraints are a barrier to people getting the essential help they need from intermediaries.

Using the Report

One of CLBC’s strategic goals is to reduce barriers to accessing high quality legal information, resources & referrals, so we will be using the information from this report to inform our activities. Specifically, we will focus on exploring ways to continue hosting regular community meetings to connect intermediaries and support informed referrals in regions and communities. We will also be improving the Clicklaw HelpMap to direct people to appropriate local resources, and will continue to support the legal information needs of lawyers, notaries, library staff and intermediaries delivering much-needed services in remote and rural communities.

Intermediaries in BC can use this report to learn more about the current reality of community-based legal services and existing barriers to access to justice. This report also includes key messages to funders and influential stakeholders, in support of more holistic and stable funding for community programs.

About LawMatters

The logo of LawMatters

LawMatters is a Courthouse Libraries BC outreach program for public libraries. We work in partnership with libraries to provide local access to legal information in print, as well as legal reference and referral services in communities throughout the province.

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BC Provincial Court: Webinars & Resources for SRLs

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)

Register online here.

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.

Getting Started

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:  

Small Claims 

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: 

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:  


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.  

Hope this is helpful to you, and hope to see you on April 5th!

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