9 Things to Know About the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act (CRTA) Changes

The Civil Resolution Tribunal Amendment Act was passed by the legislature and received Royal Assent on May 14, 2015.  Here is some more information about the changes, and the Civil Resolution Tribunal generally.

  1. What are the main changes being proposed to the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act?
  • Amendments to the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act (CRTA), if passed, will increase access to justice by requiring parties with most strata and many small claims matters to participate in the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT), Canada’s first online tribunal.
  1. Why the move to a mandatory CRT?
  • The original CRTA provided for a voluntary tribunal, meaning that all parties (except strata corporations) must agree to resolve their dispute using the CRT.
  • The voluntary model provides an opportunity to test and improve the CRT.
  • However, we are learning that voluntary dispute resolution programs show low uptake and as a result do not improve access to justice or reduce costs.
  • The proposed amendments will increase access to justice by bringing all parties to the table to resolve their disputes, while also maintaining a person’s right to seek resolution in court.
  • When fully implemented, the combined CRT and Provincial Court small claims jurisdictions will provide a cost-effective and accessible process for resolving small claims.
  1. When will the CRT become mandatory?
  • We anticipate that the CRT will move from voluntary to mandatory in 2016.
  • At that point it will be mandatory to resolve minor strata and many small claims disputes up to $10,000 through the CRT.
  1. What happens after the CRT makes a small claims decision?
  • If a party does not object within an as yet undetermined time period, the decision will become an enforceable decision of the Provincial Court once it is filed with the court.
  • If a party objects to a CRT small claims decision, they will be entitled to bring the matter before the Provincial Court within a specified period of time.
  1. What happens after the CRT makes a strata decision?
  • CRT decisions on strata matters will be final.
  • In limited circumstances, if a party does not agree with a CRT decision in a strata property dispute, the party may appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of B.C.
  1. When can people use the CRT?
  • People will be able to use the CRT when it opens its online doors in 2015.
  • There are two systems being developed to support the CRT and increase access to justice in B.C.
  • The first system, the Solution Explorer, is designed to provide people with the tools they need to assess their options and resolve their disputes themselves.
  • The second system, the Dispute Resolution Suite, will enable the CRT to pursue further early resolution options and adjudications.
  1. How will the CRT improve access to justice?
  • Access to the CRT and its early resolution processes will improve access to justice and help resolve disputes fairly, quickly and affordably.
  • People will be able to access dispute resolution services from the comfort of their living room, at a time when it is convenient, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • The reality is that self-represented litigants are now at the heart of our justice system. The CRT design recognizes that and provides for tools and services that will help support the process of resolving disputes.
  1. How will people use the CRT if they can’t read English?
  • The CRT rules will allow a variety of “helpers” to support parties, and we anticipate that family members, neighbours, friends and others who have the needed language and literacy skills will be able to assist litigants.
  • Also, we will support people with language barriers by:
    • providing access to telephone interpretation services via CRT telephone support;
    • providing a limited range of public legal education and information; and
    • hiring multilingual staff where possible to support participants.
  • This support is in addition to the formally trained interpreters currently used in the court system. The CRT is expected to continue to allow parties to use accredited interpreters, just as they currently do in small claims cases.
  • We will also be providing some free, multilingual information material to help both litigants and their helpers understand the process and their roles.
  1. What about people who don’t know how to use a computer or don’t have access to the internet?
  • The majority of British Columbians regularly use the internet for their household business, including shopping, banking, bill payments and other transactions.
  • Numerous reports in the past few years confirm the growth in use of mobile devices to access the internet and conduct these transactions.
  • It makes sense that we should also provide the public with online access to the justice system, creating new services and preserving the fairness of the process.
    • The CRT rules will allow a variety of “helpers” to support litigants, and we anticipate that family members, neighbours, friends and others who are able to use a computer will be able to assist litigants.
    • Also, British Columbians who feel more comfortable with the court system can apply for an exemption to use the court system instead.
    • The CRT will be able to provide mail or telephone-based services where necessary.