Civil Resolution Tribunal planning early intake for strata-property disputes

16 May 2016

By Kevin Zakreski

BCLI is engaged in a project to reform aspects of strata-property law. But it isn’t the only organization in British Columbia that is working on reforms in this area.

Another significant initiative involves the resolution of strata-property disputes. On this front, the planned Civil Resolution Tribunal is taking steps toward launching its online dispute-resolution service.

The tribunal has just announced that it is gearing up for early intake of strata-property disputes, starting in summer 2016. As the tribunal’s announcement explains:

This means you’ll be able to start a strata claim using our internet-based early intake process.

We’ll use this time to test and improve our online intake processes for strata. We’ll hold on to these applications and then move them into facilitation as soon as we’re ready. After that, they can be resolved by a decision and an enforceable order if they need it.

Although we’ll start accepting applications for strata dispute resolution, we won’t be ready to resolve them right away. We’re still getting ready to handle the large number of strata disputes we expect to see once we’re fully open.

The tribunal lists the following benefits for early intake.

  • It can pause the limitation period. Many strata claims have a 2 year limitation period. The limitation period acts like a countdown clock, and when this time runs out, you may not be able to bring a claim to the CRT or a court. But, if the CRT accepts your dispute into its early intake process, the limitation period will be “paused” and stop counting down. You can find out more about limitation periods here.
  • You’ll be ready for CRT resolution. As soon as we’re ready to start moving strata disputes into our facilitation phase, you’ll be ready for this next step toward a resolution. Just making your early intake application might help to clarify the issues and encourage an early resolution by agreement among the parties in your dispute.
  • You’ll help shape the CRT process. Our early intake will help us test our online intake processes to make sure they meet your needs. You might get a chance to show us how you think things should work, which will make the CRT better for everyone.

But readers are cautioned to consider the following limitations to the process.

  • The CRT’s full dispute resolution services won’t be available during early intake. This is a testing phase for intake only. Many disputes will need to wait until the rest of our processes are ready before they are resolved. We expect this to happen in the fall. Our timeline target of 60 to 90 days won’t apply to the early intake testing.
  • Your ability to go to court may be limited. If you apply for strata dispute resolution with the CRT, you and the other parties will be required to continue in the CRT, rather than going to court instead. If you start, and then decide you would rather go to court instead of waiting for the CRT to fully open, you’ll need to ask the CRT’s permission. If this happens, the CRT would probably agree to it during early intake.
  • Not everything will be online. You’ll be able to use the Solution Explorer for strata disputes and you’ll be able to apply to the CRT using our online system. However, other dispute resolution processes will be done through email, video, telephone or mail, while we continue to build the CRT technology.

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