A Guide to Short Notice Applications in British Columbia

By Millad Ossudallah, BC Legal Coach

Is there a sense of urgency in your family law matter? Do the procedural requirements of serving the opposing party and/or counsel put you at a disadvantage? There is a solution and special rules apply to waive the notice requirements in accordance with the Supreme Court Family Rules. This blog will outline the proper steps in considering whether you should bring a short notice application, which is an application brought to court without notice given to the other party.

In the Supreme Court of British Columbia, if you need to bring a short notice application for a family law matter by way of a Notice of Application, you will need to consider the following general steps:

  • Familiarize yourself with the Supreme Court Family Rules - these rules outline the procedures and requirements for bringing applications in family law matters.
  • Prepare the application materials - prepare the necessary application materials, including the Notice of Application (Form F31), requisition for short notice (Form F17), and supporting affidavit(s) (Form F30). Clearly state the relief you are seeking and provide detailed facts and evidence to support your case.
  • Consult a family lawyer - it is advisable to consult with a family lawyer who can guide you through the specific requirements and procedures for bringing a short notice application. They can provide you with advice and assist you in preparing the application materials correctly.
  • File the application materials - first, you will need to attend the family law registry at the supreme court and only file a short notice requisition for your matter to make the court list that day. You will then attend court and have your matter heard in front of a judge. If the judge is satisfied that your application can be heard on short notice, you will be provided with instructions as to when and how the materials must be filed and served. 

What type of applications are granted on short notice? 

The following are examples of applications that can be granted on short notice in the Supreme Court of British Columbia:

  • Restraining orders or protection orders - if you or your child(ren) are facing immediate danger or harm, you can apply for a restraining order or protection order on short notice.
  • Emergency custody or access orders - in situations where there is an urgent need to address custody or access issues, such as risk to the child(ren) safety or well-being, you can seek an emergency custody or access order on short notice.
  • Exclusive possession of the family home - if there are issues related to the family home, such as violence, harassment, or significant disruption, you may apply for an order granting exclusive possession of the family home on short notice.
  • Child abduction or relocation prevention orders - if there is a concern that a child(ren) may be wrongfully removed from the jurisdiction or relocated without consent, you can apply for an order to prevent the child(ren) abduction or relocation on short notice.
  • Preservation of property or assets - in cases where there is a risk of dissipation or disposal of property or assets, you may seek an order to preserve and protect those assets on short notice. 

Why do I need to bring a short notice application? 

Under the Supreme Court Family Rules, there are certain procedural requirements for filing and serving a Notice of Application upon the opposing party of your matter that depend on the type of application that is being made. For example: 

  • For a regular chambers hearing, your application and supporting documents (i.e. affidavits) must be filed and served at least 8 business days before the hearing date;
  • For a summary trial, your application and supporting documents must be filed and served at least 12 business days before the hearing date;
  • For applications to change, to suspend or terminate a final order, or to set aside or replace the whole or any part of a filed agreement, your application and supporting documents must be filed and served at least 21 business days before the hearing date; and
  • For applications to change or to set aside a filed determination of a parenting coordinator, or to change, suspend, or terminate a filed arbitration award, your application and supporting documents must be filed and served at least 21 business days before the hearing date.

The above procedural deadlines must be met before your application can be heard in chambers in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The opposing party will also need to be provided proper notice depending on the type of hearing that is being put before the court.

If you proceed with bypassing the procedural deadlines and are seeking an order for a short notice application, the judge will ask certain questions to determine if there is any urgency for your matter to be heard. If the judge determines that your issue(s) has no urgency, then your application will be adjourned, and proper notice will need to be provided to the opposing party.

If your matter is urgent and the judge is satisfied that it should be brought on short notice, you can bypass the procedural requirement and file and serve your materials earlier than the required deadlines set out in the Supreme Court Family Rules. For example, a judge may grant you short notice (an order) to file and serve your materials within 2 business days for a regular hearing instead of having to provide the other party with 8 business days’ worth of notice. 

Other considerations for a short notice application

Filing a short notice application may have certain drawbacks or prejudices. It is important to consider some of the following factors before deciding to pursue a short notice application:

  • Inadequate time for preparation - with a short notice application, there may be limited time to gather and prepare all necessary documents, evidence, and legal arguments. This could impact the quality and thoroughness of your claim.
  • Strained judicial resources - courts have busy schedules, and it may be challenging to secure an application on short notice, depending on the court’s availability and caseload.
  • Potential for delayed resolution - if the court grants the short notice application, it may result in an expedited hearing but could potentially lead to a delay in reaching a final resolution.
  • Limited opportunity for response - by seeking a short notice application, the other party may have less time to adequately respond or prepare their own case. This may lead to an adjournment by the opposing party.
  • Perception of procedural impropriety - filing a short notice application may be seen by the court as an attempt to circumvent the regular notice and procedural requirements, such as the deadlines mentioned above. 

It is important to note that the granting of short notice applications is at the court’s discretion, and they will consider the urgency and merits of each case.

At Coach My Case, we understand that navigating urgent legal situations like short notice applications in family law can be stressful and overwhelming. Our team of experienced legal coaches are committed to helping you as you navigate this process. Contact us today to schedule your complimentary 20-minute consultation.