By Lauryn Kerr, CRT Legal Counsel
[This post was updated on February 20, 2019.]
The Civil Resolution Tribunal Act establishes the CRT and sets out its jurisdiction to resolve strata property and small claims disputes. In spring of 2018, the BC government passed Bill 22 to amend the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act. Some provisions from Bill 22 are being brought into force on January 1, 2019. This means that provisions in the Act are changing.
What are the big changes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act?
The CRT’s jurisdiction
The CRT will still have jurisdiction over strata property and small claims disputes $5,000 and under. On April 1, 2019, the CRT will also have jurisdiction over motor vehicle injury disputes $50,000 and under, including accident benefit claims and minor injury determinations.
Even though the jurisdiction isn’t changing on January 1, the provisions which set out the CRT’s jurisdiction are moving to a new area of the Act. Instead of being in Part 1.1 of the Act (sections 3.1 and 3.6), the jurisdiction provisions are being moved to the end of the Act, in Part 10 (sections 118 and 121).
Limitation periods and the Civil Resolution Tribunal
If you have a legal claim that can go to a court or a tribunal, the case almost always has to be started within a set period of time. After this time runs out, a court or tribunal can refuse your claim, no matter how strong your case would have been. The time limit is called a “limitation period”. It’s like a countdown clock. You have to start your case with the CRT or a court before the countdown clock runs out of time.
Under the CRT’s current legislation, when you start a claim with the CRT your limitation period is paused when the tribunal issues a Dispute Notice. The CRT aims to issue a Dispute Notice within 24 hours of receiving your completed and paid Application for Dispute Resolution. But there may be circumstances where it takes longer.
After January 1, 2019 your limitation period will stop when you make your Application for Dispute Resolution. This means there won’t be a risk of the time limit running out between when you make your Application for Dispute Resolution, and when the CRT issues the Dispute Notice. This is the same as how it works in the court.
After the CRT process ends – small claims disputes
Right now if you aren’t happy with the CRT’s final decision on a small claims dispute, including a default decision, you can pay a fee and file a Notice of Objection with the CRT. The Notice of Objection must be filed within 28 days after you receive a CRT decision. The CRT cannot issue an order in a small claims dispute until the deadline for filing a Notice of Objection expires. If a Notice of Objection is filed, the CRT decision is not enforceable. If any party wants to continue any of the claims that were included in the dispute, that party must file a Notice of CRT Claim in the BC Provincial Court.
After January 1, 2019 the Notice of Objection will not be available for a party who defaults in a tribunal proceeding. This means that if you aren’t happy with a CRT default decision made against you, or a decision made when you were non-compliant, you will have to apply to cancel the decision instead of filing a Notice of Objection.
Generally, the tribunal will not cancel a final decision if the reason the party was in default was within the party’s control.
After the CRT process ends – strata disputes
Your options if you disagree with the CRT’s final decision on a strata dispute are also changing.
Under the current legislation, a party can appeal a strata decision to the BC Supreme Court. But first, you have to ask the BC Supreme Court for permission (“leave”) to appeal the decision. For CRT disputes filed before January 1, 2019, a party will still be able to appeal the decision to the BC Supreme Court.
CRT disputes filed after January 1, 2019 can’t be appealed to the BC Supreme Court. Instead, they will be subject to judicial review. This is still done in the BC Supreme Court, but the process is different and the things you can ask the Supreme Court to do about the CRT decision are different. Here’s some more information on judicial reviews.
As always, if you have questions or comments, please let us know.