Introduction
Introduction

We recommend that you watch the introductory video first. It will provide you with an overview of the British Columbia court system, and this website.

To learn more about British Columbia's trial and appeal courts, select an option from the menu above.

Getting Started

line

Types of Courts

Do you know what types of courts operate in British Columbia? Trial? Appeal? Or Both?

Did you say both? Good answer. Yes, here in BC, we have two trial courts and one appeal court.

Depending upon the type of case, trials are held in either the Provincial Court of BC or the Supreme Court of BC. The judges in these courts hear evidence from each side and decide in favour of one. These are called trial courts.

After a decision, one of the parties may be unhappy with the outcome and believe that the judge came to a wrong decision. Under certain conditions, that party may be able to go to the Court of Appeal for BC where three or five judges can either accept or reject the appeal.

The appeal process does not have to stop there. The Supreme Court of Canada can hear appeals from the Courts of Appeal in every province, including BC. The Supreme Court of Canada has the last word, though. All courts in Canada must follow the decisions of the highest court in the land.

line

Who runs the courts?

Both the federal and provincial governments are involved in BCís court system.

The Government of Canada appoints and pays the judges of the Supreme Court of BC, the Court of Appeal for BC and, of course, the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Government of British Columbia appoints and pays the Provincial Court judges and the Masters of the Supreme Court of BC, the people who decide pre-trial matters. It also pays for and administers all three BC courts through the Court Services Branch.

This branch enables BC courts to run smoothly. Its employees keep the court registry of documents, supply all the support services required to run the courts, escort prisoners to court, keep prisoners in custody while in court and maintain courthouse security. The Court Services Branch also provides for and maintains courthouse facilities.

line

Want to learn more?

This is just a start. Court processes can be fascinating and very different from what you may have seen on television or in movies. You can learn more about the individual courts, civil and criminal law, judicial independence and access to the courts on this website.

line

Click here for Access to the Courts