Civil jury trials in B.C. Supreme Court have been further suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The province announced this week that it is extending its current suspension until Oct. 8, 2022, meaning any trial taking place before that date will 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 an exception is made by the court.
“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,” a press release from the provincial government stated.
Starting on March 29, 2021, however, it will be possible to file jury notices for trials scheduled for Oct. 8, 2022, or later.
Criminal jury trials in B.C. resumed on Sept. 8, 2020, the first of which in Kamloops was a gangland murder trial that get underway in February.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Attorney General is considering whether to permanently eliminate civil jury trials in some areas of civil litigation. 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 adding hand-washing stations in courthouses.