Canada’s first online tribunal reports
On July 13, 2016, the Civil Resolution Tribunal (“CRT”) began accepting strata property disputes for resolution, marking the launch of the first online administrative tribunal in Canada. Since then, well over 4000 people have used the Solution Explorer to find free online help for their strata disputes. More than 200 parties have submitted online applications for strata dispute resolution with the CRT.
While the CRT also provides services through mail and telephone, there is a high demand for online interaction. Approximately 45% of parties are filing their applications during evenings or weekends, outside of typical registry hours. So far, only two parties have requested not to use email, and the CRT has accommodated those requests.
The CRT is working hard to help people resolve their disputes consensually wherever possible. More than half the filed disputes are in the facilitation (mediation) phase, and a number of parties have reached agreements with the help of expert facilitators. Some disputes are also being referred to tribunal members for adjudication, and you can read the CRT’s decisions online.
Thanks to rigorous public consultation and user testing, the technology is working very well and is easily able to accommodate the CRT’s case volume. The CRT team meets weekly to review possible improvements to all aspects of the CRT’s technology and processes, and the CRT is introducing new features regularly.
The CRT is being implemented in stages, in order to thoughtfully incorporate public feedback and refine dispute resolution processes. An exciting next step is coming soon: resolving low-value small claims disputes.
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 early this year. The CRT will likely start with a lower monetary limit, and this limit will increase over time. The starting monetary limit hasn’t been set yet, but more details will be on the website soon. In the meantime, the CRT is working closely with the BC Provincial Court and the provincial government to create a clear process for participants during this transition.
The CRT is taking a number of other steps to get ready for this new area of jurisdiction, including:
Creating free legal information and tools for people with small claims disputes. The CRT is very grateful to the many lawyers who volunteered their time and expert knowledge to help create accurate and helpful small claims content for the public. Try the Solution Explorer beta for small claims, and let the CRT know what you think!
- Hiring additional facilitators and resolution support clerks to handle the new small claims disputes the CRT will be resolving next year. These new staff members will be in place in the next couple of months.
- Adding new rules for small claims disputes. There will be another public consultation for these rules shortly, so please visit the website to provide your feedback.
- Making sure CRT processes and technology are ready to meet the needs of small claims participants.
This is an exciting next step for the CRT and, as always, it is being taken with a clear focus on increasing access to justice and building the CRT around the needs of the public. If you have any comments or questions, you can get in touch here.
Shannon Salter is the Chair of the Civil Resolution Tribunal and an adjunct professor at the UBC Allard School of Law.