The role of tribunals in B.C.’s justice system

Administrative tribunals run parallel to the court and provide expertise to decision making and disputes.  Each tribunal addresses the needs of a specific administrative justice subject area.  Tribunals are easier to access than court.  They are also more informal and timelier than court, and often less expensive.

Tribunals have jurisdiction to determine all questions of fact, law or discretion that arise in any matter before them, including constitutional questions.  Tribunal decisions are often binding, which means they must be complied with.  The remedies that tribunals can order may be limited by their legislation.

Tribunals are independent when performing their decision function.  Independence means tribunals don't take direction from government on the substantive issues before them.  They are supported by and accountable to the ministry responsible for their operation.

An independent person or expert panel chairs a tribunal.  Chairs and members are appointed by government through a merit-based process.

If you do not agree with a tribunal decision, there can be different options to pursue, depending on which tribunal made the decision:

  • Find out if the tribunal has its own process for internal review, statutory appeal or objection
  • Apply for a Judicial Review in the BC Supreme Court if you believe the process was flawed or that the adjudicator made an error of law, jurisdiction, or fairness
  • Contact the Office of the Ombudsperson if you believe you were treated unfairly