While provincial courts were never fully closed, new files couldn’t be accepted for several months as a result of COVID-19. (Black Press Media file photo)

While provincial courts were never fully closed, new files couldn’t be accepted for several months as a result of COVID-19. (Black Press Media file photo)

Unfiled cases could backlog B.C. provincial court system

Provincial court registry and proceedings in Victoria have reopened

The extent of court case backlogs in Victoria remains unclear, but the provincial court system could have thousands of proceedings waiting in the queue.

Regular court operations were suspended in mid-March in response to COVID-19, with provincial files no longer accepted at the court registry and only urgent and essential matters heard in court. Eventually, other scheduled proceedings were heard via telephone, or audio or video conference.

On June 8, the provincial court in Victoria resumed in-person proceedings for priority matters that couldn’t be heard by conference. From July 6 onward, court operations resumed incrementally across B.C. and on July 13, provincial court registries resumed accepting all filings remotely or in-person.

But province-wide, thousands of cases had been scheduled between March 16 and July 3 – including 5,967 adult criminal trials and 20,239 traffic trials. Many were held virtually, but 967 family court trials, 240 child protection and 457 small claims cases were adjourned.

READ ALSO: B.C. joins national effort to deal with COVID-19 court backups

The Victoria Early Resolution Model helped some people resolve family issues outside the courts, and most other adjourned family files in Victoria were rescheduled, according to the Provincial Court of B.C.

But the potential for backlog is concerning for Gillian Lindquist, executive director at Restorative Justice Victoria (RJV), which offers restorative programs for people convicted on a wide range of offences – most commonly, crimes such as mischief, theft and various forms of assault.

“There’s going to be a big backlog in the court system, because the courts really came to a grinding halt,” she said. “People at various levels are going to be looking for ways to reduce that backlog. They’ll be looking at everything – but one of those is going to be diversion.

“We are anticipating that in the fall we’re going to get probably hit hard with cases.”

Lindquist says emergency COVID-19 funding through the Victoria Foundation has allowed RJV to bring on another staff member until March.

Stressors from COVID-19 could have a trickle-down effect too. Lindquist notes that RJV clients are experiencing high levels of stress.

“When people are experiencing that type of stress, they’re more vulnerable to having negative outcomes,” she said. “Including potentially re-engaging in [crime]. We’re seeing that and that’s something that might be ongoing for some time.”

READ ALSO: COVID-19: B.C. supreme and provincial courts suspend regular operations


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: nina.grossman@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusCriminal JusticeLaw and justiceVictoria

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

My FED Farm, created by Food Eco District (FED), is aiming to help people affected by the COVID-19 grow food in their own back yard. The program is in collaboration with Sooke Region Food CHI, Transition Sooke and the Sooke Garden Club. (File - Black Press Media)
Sooke backyard food program returns

The Sooke Backyard Food Program is returning for a second year. Sooke… Continue reading

Colwood resident Maria Curcic shows off a one-of-a-kind hat that she created. Curcic is one of several artists that took part in the annual Stinking Fish Studio Tour. (Contributed - Maria Curcic)
Curtain closes on Stinking Fish Studio Tour

The Stinking Fish Studio Tour will live on through the lasting legacy… Continue reading

The HarbourCats’ 2021 season is cancelled. (Photo courtesy of the Victoria HarbourCats)
No at-bats for Victoria HarbourCats, Nanaimo NightOwls this season due to COVID-19

No Canadian teams will play in the 2021 West Coast League season

An Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island (XRVI) climate change event in 2019 saw a large crowd occupy the Johnson Street bridge. (Black Press Media file photo)
TRAFFIC: Protest occupying one lane of Douglas Street southbound

Extinction Rebellion activists are marching from Vancouver to the B.C. legislative building

One person has been arrested following an assault on a man with Down syndrome along Dallas Road April 17. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man with Down syndrome attacked along Dallas Road

Suspected assailant arrested, sent to hospital for mental health assessment

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
Out-of-region B.C. vacation bookings, RV ferry reservations to be refused

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
BREAKING: Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
Island Health seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

VIHA says Ladysmith-area Chakalaka Bar and Grill also violating water and sewer regulations

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. to open up AstraZeneca vaccines for all people 40+, set up clinics in hot spots

A total of 13 neighbourhoods and communities will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Carver Ken Sheen had almost finished work on a large cowboy carving commissioned by the City of Williams Lake to replace the original overlooking the Stampede Grounds when fire broke out Friday, April 18 at his property between Williams Lake and Quesnel. (Pine River Carving Facebook photos)
Cow boss statue destined for Williams Lake Stampede Grounds goes up in flames

Carver Ken Sheen lost the statue, all his tools and his shop in the blaze

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains. (Hansard TV)
B.C. moves to protect employee pay for COVID-19 vaccination

Most won’t need to take time off work, labour minister says

Most Read