In 2012, British Columbia passed the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act, which established a new aspect of BC’s justice system that will provide online dispute resolution services for strata (condominium) and small claims cases. The Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) will be Canada’s first online tribunal and is expected to launch later this year. The CRT will take disputants through a series of online tools designed to help resolve the dispute as effectively and efficiently as possible. For example, disputants first will be led through resources designed to provide information and diagnose the problem. The next phase involves part-to-party negotiation through the online system. For parties that are unable to negotiate a settlement on their own, the next phase offers case management and facilitated dispute resolution. Parties still unable to come to an agreement may move to adjudication, where they will be able to ask the tribunal to issue a decision. Because the CRT’s dispute resolution services will be available online, users will be able to access them from home or from a mobile device, 24 hours a day. To further facilitate access to justice, the CRT will allow “helpers” to aid disputants who do not read English or need assistance with technology. The language access already provided by the court will be made available, and the CRT will also employee multilingual staff, when possible, and make telephone interpretation available.
Last month, Bill 19, the Civil Resolution Tribunal Amendment Act, was introduced in the legislature. The amended act would require most strata and many small claims cases to be diverted to the CRT, expanding its authority. (more…)