Small Claims: Coming Soon to the CRT

It’s been almost 5 months since the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) began accepting strata property disputes. We wanted to pause for a moment to give you an update on how things are going, and where we’re planning to go from here.

Since we opened our doors, well over 3500 people have used the Solution Explorer to find help for their strata disputes. Based on public feedback and our data analytics, we believe most people who use the Solution Explorer find useful information and tools to resolve their dispute themselves.

About 185 parties have made online applications for strata dispute resolution with the CRT. About half of filed disputes are currently in the facilitation phase, where we’ve started to see parties reach agreements, with the help of our expert facilitators. The CRT has also published its first tribunal decision, with more to come.

So far, the technology is working very well and is easily able to accommodate the CRT’s case volume. The team meets weekly to review possible improvements to all aspects of the CRT’s technology and processes.

The CRT is being implemented in stages. This lets us learn from the public and refine our dispute resolution processes as we take on different kinds of disputes. Now we are looking ahead to the CRT’s next stage of development: resolving low-value small claims disputes.

Small claims are very broad, and span many areas of law. They include disputes about consumer goods, employment, personal injury, contracts, debt, personal property, the specific performance of agreements, and many other dispute types as well. Really, the only thing that small claims have in common is their monetary value. In BC, small claims are claims under $25,000.

The Civil Resolution Tribunal Act provides a framework for the CRT to resolve many small claims disputes. For lower value small claims, this will likely happen sometime in the early part of next year. The CRT will likely start with a lower monetary limit, but this limit will increase over time. This starting monetary limit hasn’t been set yet, and we will keep you informed as we know more about the details. In the meantime, we’re working closely with the BC Provincial Court and the government to create a clear process for participants during this transition.

So what else are we doing to prepare to resolve these new cases? As a first step, we’ve created new free legal information and tools for people with small claims disputes, just like we did with strata property disputes. This information is now loaded into the Solution Explorer and is undergoing early beta testing. You’ll have the chance to let us know what you think of these new resources in the coming weeks.

We’re also busy hiring new facilitators and resolution support clerks to help us handle the new small claims disputes we will be resolving next year. These new staff members will be in place in the next couple of months. There’s a lot of other work in progress as well. We’re adding new rules for small claims disputes, and changing our processes and web content to accommodate these new claims. We’ll be asking for your feedback on these new small claims rules in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, the CRT technology development is continuing, providing new features to help save our staff’s time, so that they can use that time to serve the public more quickly and responsively. We’re consulting with community advocates and members of the public, to make sure these features are easy to use.

This is an exciting next step for the CRT and, as always, we are taking it with a clear focus on increasing access to justice and building the CRT around the needs of the public.

Thank you for your ongoing support for the CRT. Please let us know if you have any questions or comments.