The Civil Resolutions Tribunal (the “CRT”) is an innovative, online only tribunal that is unique to British Columbia. So what can the CRT do for you?

What is the Civil Resolutions Tribunal?

The CRT hears and resolves small claims and strata disputes through an online portal. For small claims disputes, the claim must be under $5,000.00. For a detailed list of what types of small claims and strata disputes the CRT can and cannot take, visit the CRT’s website.

The CRT also plays an important role under B.C’s new ‘Cap’ system for ICBC personal injury cases.  The CRT will now hear disputes about accident benefits, disputes about damages and fault up to $50,000, and determining whether an injury is a ‘minor’ injury.

Can I have a lawyer represent me?

Yes, but you will need the CRT’s approval. When starting a dispute on the CRT’s website, you will be asked whether you have a representative (i.e., a lawyer) and why the representative is needed.

A lawyer might be helpful if there are complex legal issues involved in your dispute. A lawyer can help you navigate through the CRT’s process and the legal issues. Having a lawyer can reduce the time and stress involved in disputes, and a lawyer can help you negotiate an effective settlement.

How do I get started?

You start a dispute on the CRT’s website. Before you begin, you will have to complete the Solution Explorer, which is a self-help kit providing information on your dispute.

After completing the Solution Explorer, you will be directed to complete a Dispute Application Form, and to pay the required fee. The Dispute Application Form will ask for information about the parties involved, the facts, and what you want. The CRT will review your application and determine whether they can hear your dispute. If accepted, the CRT will provide you with a Dispute Notice to serve the party you are claiming against, along with instructions on how to do so.

What is the process like?

After the Dispute Notice has been served, you will be given access to an online forum to negotiate with the other party or parties directly. This is where having a lawyer to assist you with negotiations might be helpful.

The CRT will also assign a case manager to the dispute. The case manager’s job is to facilitate the negotiation and encourage a fair settlement of the dispute. The case manager will remain neutral and not take any side. The case manager can facilitate the process by asking for any party to provide evidence, or providing a neutral evaluation of how they think the CRT would likely resolve the dispute.

If the parties cannot come to an agreement, then the parties can ask for the dispute to go to adjudication. This means having a CRT member make a decision. The case manager will assist the parties with preparing for adjudication, and will give the parties a Tribunal Decision Plan, which sets out the next steps and timelines for the dispute.

The CRT will make a decision after hearing each party’s arguments and reviewing the evidence presented. Usually, the CRT will accept written arguments. However, the CRT may decide that it wants to hold an oral hearing, or you may ask for an oral hearing.

How can I be successful in my dispute?

Here are three easy dos and don’ts to help you be effective before the CRT:

Do:

  1. Be clear and concise. There is a word limit when you complete the Dispute Application Form.
  2. Provide the material facts. Material facts are the facts that are relevant to the issue.
  3. Do some research on your legal issue before you begin. An understanding of the key facts and points that will support your case will be helpful for preparing your application.

Don’t:

  1. Don’t be disrespectful. You will quickly lose your credibility before the CRT if you are rude or discourteous.
  2. Don’t ignore the timelines. Procedure is important in legal proceedings.
  3. Don’t exaggerate. Again, your credibility is important if you want the CRT to believe you.

Can I appeal a CRT decision?

Yes. A CRT decision can be appealed to the Provincial Court of British Columbia (the Small Claims Court). There are rules about the time and procedure for doing so. For assistance with appealing a CRT decision, you may want to consult a lawyer.

If you have questions about the Civil Resolution Tribunal and whether it is a viable option for your case, contact Drysdale Bacon McStravick LLP.

Mike was called to the British Columbia bar in 2015, and before joining Drysdale Bacon McStravick LLP, he articled at a criminal defence firm in Toronto. Mike spent his articling year developing extensive litigation experience by attending court daily and assisting on files at every level of the Ontario courts.

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