Pandemic prompts B.C. to suspend civil jury trials for a year

VICTORIA — Civil jury trials in British Columbia are being suspended for a year in an effort to help courts remain safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A statement from Attorney General David Eby says the changes have been made in consultation with key legal sectors in an effort to find the best way forward during the pandemic.

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The courts were shut down in March because of the pandemic and in July, B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson extended the cancellation of civil jury trials to January.

Now, the government says civil jury trials will resume Oct. 4, 2021.

The statement says any civil trial between those dates will be heard by a judge alone and neither side in the case will be allowed to adjourn it unless the judge orders otherwise.

The government says the suspension will help minimize delays linked to measures that would keep a jury safe from COVID-19 while in court.

Law Society of B.C. president Craig Ferris and Jennifer Brun, president of the B.C. branch of the Canadian Bar Association, say they support changes that ensure some civil cases can continue during the pandemic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2020.

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