Civil Resolution Tribunal Act
British Columbia’s Civil Resolution Tribunal Act (2012) established a new dispute resolution body, the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT). The Civil Resolution Tribunal Act was amended in 2015. The Tribunal is being implemented in phases. It started with the early intake of strata (condominium) disputes in July 2016 and on June 1, 2017, began resolving most small claims up to $5,000.
The Civil Resolution Tribunal provides an accessible forum for the resolution of strata property disputes and for a wide variety of small claims. The tribunal encourages people to use a broad range of collaborative dispute resolution tools to resolve their disputes as early as possible, while still preserving adjudication as a valued last resort. It is intended, as with the Family Law Act, to encourage a collaborative, problem-solving approach to dispute resolution, rather than the traditional adversarial litigation model.
In order to cut cost, delay and complexity for the users of B.C.’s justice system, the Civil Resolution Tribunal combines proven technology with the flexibility, case management and dispute resolution strengths of British Columbia’s administrative justice system.
The Civil Resolution Tribunal Act was amended May 14, 2015. The changes mean that the CRT will become the first step for people with small claims and many types of strata disputes once the CRT is fully operational.
The act provides the Civil Resolution Tribunal authority to resolve:
- Small claims disputes where the parties decide to take the matter to the tribunal instead of the court, up to a maximum value of $25,000 for:
- Debt or damages
- Recovery of personal property
- Specific performance of an agreement relating to personal property or services, or
- Relief from opposing claims to personal property
The first phase of the implementation of small claims started with claims under $5,000 on June 1st, 2017.
- Like the Provincial Court Small Claims Division, the CRT won’t be able to help with small claims involving libel, slander, malicious prosecution. The CRT won’t be able to help with small claims involving the Provincial Government. Based on criteria in the legislation, the CRT can refuse to resolve or the court can order that the CRT not resolve.
- Strata disputes between owners of strata properties and strata corporations for a wide variety of matters such as:
- Non-payment of monthly strata fees or fines
- Unfair actions by the strata corporation or by people owning more than half of the strata lots in a complex
- Uneven, arbitrary or non-enforcement of strata bylaws (such as noise, pets, parking, rentals)
- Issues of financial responsibility for repairs and the choice of bids for services
- Irregularities in the conduct of meetings, voting, minutes or other matters
- Interpretation of the legislation, regulations or bylaws, and
- Issues regarding the common property
The tribunal will not decide strata disputes that affect land, such as:
- Ordering the sale of a strata lot
- Court orders respecting rebuilding damaged real property
- Dealing with developers and phased strata plans
- Determining each owners’ per cent share in the strata complex (the “Schedule of Unit Entitlement”)
Such strata matters continue to be heard in the Supreme Court, as do the following matters:
- Appointment of an administrator to run the strata corporation
- Orders vesting authority in a liquidator
- Applications to wind up a strata corporation
- Allegations of conflicts of interest by council members, or
- Appointment of voters when there is no person to vote in respect of a strata lot
How the Civil Resolution Tribunal works
The Civil Resolution Tribunal offers services designed to encourage early resolution of disputes through online information and resolution, telephone facilitation and other such services. For the small number of cases where formal adjudication is required, the tribunal actively case manages the dispute so that the adjudication is conducted quickly and efficiently. In all cases, the level of resources applied to a dispute will be proportionate to the nature of the dispute and the issues involved.
The Provincial Court's role in tribunal small claims
The Act provides that tribunal small claims must go through the tribunal before going to Provincial Court; however, the Provincial Court will still have a role in the following situations:
- The CRT does not have jurisdiction to adjudicate the claim
- The CRT refuses to resolve the claim
- The Provincial Court orders that the matter not be adjudicated at the CRT
- A party files a notice of objection to a CRT decision
- Enforcement of the CRT order in Provincial Court if no notice of objection has been made