(Jeff Hitchcock/Flickr)

Shortage of B.C. judges causes day-long court closure

This was the first time the courtroom in Vancouver had to cancel an entire day of hearing

The civil and family chambers courtroom at the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver was forced to close for a full day this week because of a shortage of judges.

Court spokesperson Bruce Cohen said no judges were available to review applications, so counsel and litigants were asked to reschedule next month for new dates in December.

Cohen could not confirm how many were cases were affected by the closure, but an average of 50 applications are reviewed in the civil and family chambers courtrooms each day, according to court lists.

Judge shortages a concern, report says

This was the first time the courtroom in Vancouver had to cancel an entire day of hearings, but the lack of judges has been a concern raised time and time again in B.C.

As of December, there were nine judicial vacancies. There now appear to be five vacancies, according to the BCSC website.

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A 2016 report blamed the shortage on judges who are retiring or taking a leave to fill in for others with a surplus of work. This was causing constant rescheduling and adding to the cost of litigation.

The delays have added pressure on court scheduling staff who have to tell a litigant of the delay, as well as cause potential burnout amongst the judges, the report also says.

More retirements are expected before the end of 2017.

The federal government has introduced a new way to hire judges, through an advisory committee. The members for B.C. were named in January.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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