Civil jury trials in B.C. will be suspended as of Sept. 28 to help courts remain safe and minimize the impact of delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following consultation with the Supreme Court of B.C. and others, the attorney general is amending the Rules of Civil Court to temporarily suspend all civil jury trials for one year.
Under this temporary suspension, civil jury trials will resume on Oct. 4, 2021, with any trial taking place before this date to be heard by a judge alone, a provincial press release stated. In addition, neither plaintiffs nor defendants will be permitted to adjourn cases to a later date in order to have the matter heard by a jury, unless the court orders otherwise.
The change effectively extends the direction by the chief justice of the Supreme Court of B.C. to cancel civil jury trials up to and including January 1, 2021. Other provinces, including Alberta and Saskatchewan, have also temporarily suspended civil jury trials as a result of COVID-19.
The suspension of civil jury trials will help to minimize any delays arising from the impact of additional safety measures required in courts as a result of COVID-19, such as the need to find alternative locations or rearrange rooms to allow for physical distancing, installing plexiglass barriers and hand wash stations in the courthouse, and carrying out enhanced cleaning and regular health screenings.
Criminal jury trials resumed on Sept. 8.