Free legal information for the public
The Solution Explorer is the first step in the Civil Resolution Tribunal (“CRT”) dispute resolution process. It uses questions and answers to give people tailored, plain language legal information, as well as free self-help tools to resolve their dispute without having to file a CRT claim. The Solution Explorer uses a basic form of artificial intelligence called an expert system, which makes specialized legal knowledge widely available to the public.
Who can use it?
The Solution Explorer is free, simple to use, and anonymous. Anyone can access it, from a smartphone or other device, without having to have a CRT claim. In fact, one of the Solution Explorer’s goals is to help people to resolve their problems without having to go to a tribunal or court. Spending a few minutes using the Solution Explorer to better understand their legal problems, and their options for resolving them, empowers people to take informed next steps.
Where does the Solution Explorer’s legal information come from?
Lawyers across British Columbia have generously volunteered their time and expertise to create legal information for the Solution Explorer. Knowledge engineers met with lawyers and asked them questions about the most common issues arising in their practice areas, as well as the legal information they think people need to know. The CRT team then put this information into massive mind maps, ensuring the content and language is understandable, and targeting a Grade 6 reading level. Recently, law students from Thompson Rivers University completed a CRT knowledge engineering externship, in which they interviewed lawyers and created new legal information pathways, which will soon be included in the Solution Explorer. As a final step, CRT tribunal members review Solution Explorer content for errors and omissions.
How are people using the Solution Explorer?
The Solution Explorer is very popular. More than 15,000 people have used it for small claims issues, and more than 13,000 people have explored strata matters. A particularly popular tool is the Solution Explorer’s template letters, for example requesting a strata hearing or demanding repayment of a debt. The letters are pre-written based on information the person provided about their legal issue, and include applicable statutory provisions and deadlines, among other information. Often, people do not have the language skills or confidence to write their own formal letters. However, in many cases, starting a dialogue between the parties can resolve the dispute by agreement. Other tools include debt repayment calculators, tips for negotiation, and coaching on how to have difficult conversations. One of the Solution Explorer’s objectives is to correct the information asymmetry that can exist between parties who have access to legal expertise and those who do not.
Where will the Solution Explorer go from here?
Every three months, we implement changes to the Solution Explorer based on public feedback and data analytics. These improvements can include new content and pathways, or changes to the language, layout, or self-help tools. The CRT carefully monitors how these changes affect people’s use of the Solution Explorer. The CRT is committed to continuous improvement and transparency. Consistent with this goal, the CRT regularly reports on feedback and changes to the Solution Explorer through the CRT website.
The CRT is always looking for volunteer lawyers to share their expertise with British Columbians by contributing content to the Solution Explorer. Please send the CRT an email if you would like to get involved at email@example.com.
Shannon Salter, Chair, Civil Resolution Tribunal.