How does the CRT work?

The Civil Resolutions Tribunal (or CRT) is far less formal than the usual court process. This is because the vast majority of the tribunal’s work is done entirely online.

For ICBC claims, an individual can only initiate a claim with the CRT by completing an online application through the tribunal’s “Solution Explorer”. The Solution Explorer asks individuals multiple pre-programmed questions about their potential claim. Once the application is submitted and served on ICBC, ICBC will have an opportunity to respond by filing a dispute notice. After that, a tribunal case manager will assume conduct of the file. The case manager does not decide the claim itself, but has significant discretion to determine the evidence that will be heard at a hearing, the manner in which the hearing will be conducted, and the jurisdiction of the tribunal to hear various issues in the case.

If the matter is not resolved in the case management stage, it is then assigned to another tribunal member for a hearing. Most hearings are comprised of online submissions to the tribunal. Only in rare cases will the tribunal consider holding oral hearings via telephone or Skype. Following the hearing, the tribunal member renders a decision that is binding upon all parties.

While deciding a case based on written statements may seem easy and effective, it denies people their “day in court”. That denial is more significant in ICBC injury cases. Without the opportunity to have a face-to-face hearing, it is very difficult to see how tribunal members will be able to fully appreciate the multiple ways in which an accident has impacted a person’s life. The inevitable result, as envisioned by ICBC and the BC government, is that people will not be fully compensated for their injuries and losses.

There are further problems that come with not having in-person hearings. For instance, it’s difficult to see how tribunal members will grapple with and assess difficult concepts such as credibility and reliability of witnesses without ever seeing them testify in person. This is going to be a big problem when it comes to assessing liability or fault for accidents which regularly turn on which party or witness is more credible and reliable.

Similarly concerning is that the standard rules of evidence, which have been developed over hundreds of years and remain in place for good reason, do not apply at the CRT. For that reason alone, the CRT is likely to become the proverbial “Wild West” of tribunals. This demonstrates a lack of fairness and seriousness towards injured claimants.

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