The Civil Resolution Tribunal is designed to provide affordable access to justice in BC. As stated in the Supreme Court of Canada in Hryniak v Mauldin, 2014 SCC 7, “Ensuring access to justice is the greatest challenge to the rule of law in Canada today. Most Canadians cannot afford to sue when they are wronged or defend themselves when they are sued, and cannot afford to go to trial”.
The Civil Resolution Tribunal has attempted to combat the access to justice problem by making the process cheaper, expedited, easier to understand and more navigable. One of the more interesting facets of the Tribunal is that it is Canada’s first online tribunal. The entire process from initiating a claim, negotiations and the final decision of the tribunal is done online.
The Tribunal started off as a forum for strata property disputes but has expanded into facilitating small claims disputes of $5,000.00 and less. Interestingly, the Tribunal is going to expand further into Motor Vehicle Accidents and certain Societies Act and Cooperative Associations Act disputes. Motor Vehicle Accident disputes are expected to begin being heard by the Tribunal in April of 2019 but there is no specified date yet for the Tribunal to start hearing issues related to disputes under the Societies Act and Cooperative Associations Act. It is likely that the Tribunal will only hear matters related to Motor Vehicle Accidents that are fairly simple in nature with damages capped at around $50,000.00.
The Tribunal contemplates active participation by those who will actually end up being effected by the dispute, namely the plaintiff and defendant. The Tribunal will only make a decision for the parties if the parties are unable to agree to a solution on their own. The Tribunal is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week from a computer or mobile device that has an internet connection.
The Tribunal’s online dispute resolving program is ground-breaking, being the first of its kind in Canada. It is likely that the jurisdiction of this Tribunal will continue to expand within BC once the public gains more confidence in the process.