B.C. looks at abolishing jury trials for civil cases, begins public consultation

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The province is asking British Columbians to share their thoughts on the future of the civil jury process.

Public consultation started today (Aug. 19) and is the next step in a process to determine if the province will make changes to civil juries.

There are three options being looked at, according to the province: continuing with civil jury trials, with or without changes to law and practice; restricting jury trials to particular cases, such as defamation, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution or abolishing jury trials for civil matters.

Canadian provinces approach civil jury trials differently. In some, the trials are widely available with few requirements, while in others there are more restrictions, such as being limited to cases of defamation. 

This public consultation builds on a report provided by the BC Law Institute, at the request of the Ministry of the Attorney General. The ministry requested the institute conduct legal research on civil jury trials and suggest options for consideration by the province.

The consultation will run until Sept. 30. To read the white paper and provide input. 

Jury trials were suspended in March 2020 to minimize the impact of delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Civil jury trials are still suspended until Oct. 8, 2022. Criminal jury trials resumed in September 2020.

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