The Civil Resolutions Tribunal (or CRT) is an administrative tribunal initially established by the BC government in 2012 to handle disputes between strata councils and property owners. In 2017 the tribunal’s jurisdiction was expanded to allow them to hear small claims disputes of $5,000 or less. More recently in April of 2019, the NDP government significantly expanded the mandate of the CRT to give it exclusive jurisdiction to decide:
- Whether a person injured in a car accident is entitled to ICBC no-fault or Part 7 benefits;
- Whether a person’s injuries are “minor” as defined by the government; and
- Claims of $50,000 or less.
Considering the newly expanded jurisdiction of the CRT and the fact that CRT tribunal members are appointed by the same cabinet minister in charge of ICBC, it is important to note the options available to individuals if they disagree with a decision of the CRT.
If an individual disagrees with a small claims decision (less than $5,000), they must file a Notice of Objection with the CRT and then file a Notice of Civil Resolution Tribunal Claim with the BC Provincial Court. After all filings are complete with the BC Provincial Court, the matter will then proceed as a new trial matter within the Provincial Court system.
If an individual disagrees with a strata decision or a motor vehicle injury decision, they must apply to the BC Supreme Court for judicial review. It is important to note this is not a rehearing of the case. Judicial review is a process for the Supreme Court to review decisions of administrative tribunals to ensure that they adhere to the rule of law. The governing legislation of the tribunal limits the scope of the review that the court may undertake.
A request for judicial review is brought by filing a petition and supporting affidavits with the Supreme Court. The other party and the CRT will then have an opportunity to respond. Following this exchange the matter is set down for a hearing. At the hearing the court is not holding a new trial and normally will not admit or consider evidence that was not part of the evidence originally submitted to the CRT.
The main concerns to be assessed on a judicial review are not the rightness of the decision, but whether the decision of the CRT was outside its jurisdiction, was flawed in that it was “unreasonable” or patently unreasonable, or was the product of an unfair procedure.
A decision is considered to the patently unreasonable if it was exercised arbitrarily or in bad faith, was for an improper purpose, was based upon irrelevant factors, or failed to take statutory requirements into account. An unreasonable decision is one that is not reasonable. A reasonable decision is one which is justifiable, transparent and intelligibly fits within the decision making process of the tribunal, and falls within the range of possible acceptable outcomes.
The Supreme Court does not normally reverse a decision of a tribunal and install its own decision. Rather, it is more likely to require that the matter be reheard by the CRT with some guiding commentary from the Supreme Court. The decision to grant relief under a judicial review is entirely discretionary and it is possible for the court to otherwise agree with an individual’s claim but not grant them a rehearing.