Changes coming to Civil Resolution Tribunal and Small Claims Court
March 21, 2017
BY British Columbia Law Institute
On March 20th 2017, the Government of British Columbia announced two changes that will have an impact on how small claims disputes are resolved in the province.
In June, the Provincial Court’s jurisdiction for small claims cases will increase from disputes up to $25,000 to disputes up to $35,000. This change is accompanied by the announcement that the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) will begin resolving small claims disputes up to $5,000.
In fact, the Government stated that “using the CRT will be mandatory for most claims up to $5,000”. This is expected to free up resources in Small Claims Court, which will allow the monetary limit to be raised. CRT chair Shannon Salter said the monetary threshold for small claims resolution through the CRT will likely increase gradually.
As the Provincial Court of BC explained, not every type of claim under $5,000 will be under the authority of the CRT. The CRT will resolve issues of:
- debt or damages
- recovery of personal property
- opposing claims to personal property
- demanding performance of an agreement about personal property or services.
However, the following issues will not fall under CRT jurisdiction even if they are under $5,000:
- a claim for libel, slander or malicious prosecution
- a claim for or against the government
- a claim excluded from the authority of the CRT by regulations (there are no such exclusions now)
- a constitutional question (any question requiring notice under section 8 of the Constitutional Question Act)
- a question of whether there is a conflict between the Human Rights Code and another law.
Access to Justice
Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton called the changes “a giant step forward for access to justice” and said the new structure “will make it easier for British Columbians to resolve their legal disputes more affordably, and with less complexity”. The CRT has already been resolving strata disputes since July 2016.
The announcements are of interest to the BCLI, which is currently preparing a Study Paper on Financing Litigation.