Starting June 1, 2017, certain small claims disputes will be
adjudicated online rather than in a traditional courtroom in
British Columbia, thanks to the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT),
the first online tribunal of its kind in Canada.
The CRT is a recent provincial initiative that will
significantly change how certain small claims disputes and strata
property matters are adjudicated in British Columbia. It is
intended to provide a flexible dispute resolution forum where
parties can engage online. This means that parties involved in a
dispute regarding certain small claims and strata property matters
are not required to appear in court to have their disputes
The provisions of the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act
(CRTA) regarding strata disputes came into force on July 13, 2016,
and additional provisions granting the CRT the authority to
adjudicate certain small claims matters will come into force on
June 1, 2017.
In addition to these developments, the jurisdiction of the
Provincial Small Claims Court will also increase from C$25,000 to
C$35,000 on June 1, 2017.
The CRT currently has jurisdiction over minor strata disputes,
but will become mandatory for all small claims actions under
C$5,000 on June 1, 2017, except in limited circumstances. Those
circumstances include situations in which: the CRT does not have
jurisdiction; a judge orders that a matter proceed in Provincial
Small Claims Court rather than the CRT; a party files a notice of
objection to a CRT decision; or a party askes to have a CRT order
enforced in the Provincial Court of British Columbia (Provincial
With respect to small claims matters, the CRT will have
authority to adjudicate claims involving debt, contracts and
personal injury. Although the CRT's jurisdiction will initially
be limited to matters of up to C$5,000, this amount is expected to
increase over time.
With respect to strata disputes, the CRT can adjudicate everyday
issues such as parking, fines, irregularities in the conduct of
meetings and disputes regarding common property. In contrast, the
CRT cannot hear claims involving real property matters or claims
involving significant strata issues.
Although both small claims matters and strata disputes will go
through the same process at the CRT, appeals of these two kinds of
claims are treated differently by the CRTA. In regards to strata
disputes, the CRT's decisions have a high degree of finality. A
litigant may appeal a question of law arising out of a decision to
the B.C. Supreme Court, but only if they are granted permission to
do so by the court.
In contrast, once the small claims provisions of the CRTA come
into force, a party who is dissatisfied with the outcome of a small
claims matter in the CRT will generally be able to appeal the
CRT's decision to the Provincial Court. However, the CRTA will
contain provisions to discourage people from unnecessarily
appealing small claims decisions. For example, it will allow a
judge of the Provincial Court to require an appealing party to pay
a deposit of up to C$1,000 to the court as a condition of the
HOW ORGANIZATIONS PARTICIPATE
If a party participating in the CRT is an organization, then
that party must act through an approved representative who has the
authority to bind the organization at all stages of the CRT's
process. Specifically, if a party is an incorporated entity, the
entity must act through a director, officer or employee; if a party
is partnership, the partnership must act through a partner or
authorized employee; and if a party is a strata corporation, the
strata corporation must act through an authorized member of the
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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