The CRT has previously been called a kangaroo court. Our latest case summary only bolsters that perception.
In Yoon v. British Columbia (Civil Resolution Tribunal), 2021 BCSC 1111, Ms. Yoon, the owner of a strata unit, had a dispute with her strata. Being unable to resolve the dispute, she filed a claim with the CRT and served the claim on her strata. The strata asked the CRT to grant them an extension to a certain date to file a response. The CRT granted an extension, but to an earlier date. The strata did not file their response by that date, but did by the later date they had sought.
Once that earlier date passed, the CRT told Ms. Yoon that she could apply for default judgment, which she did. Unbeknownst to her, at the same time, the CRT granted the strata another extension. That decision didn’t make it before the CRT member who granted Ms. Yoon’s application for default judgment.
The strata, unaware that default judgment had been granted against, attempted to proceed. In response to an inquiry from the strata, the CRT informed them for the first time that default judgment had been granted, but that they could apply to overturn that decision. More than a month later, the strata finally did.
Having reviewed all the facts and miscommunications, the CRT determined that the strata had applied promptly and that it would be unfair to allow the default judgment to stand. Despite receiving a written apology from the CRT, Ms. Yoon, understandably upset at the whole mess, applied for judicial review before the Supreme Court.
The Court reviewed the CRT’s rules related to setting aside a default judgment, which stated that such an application must be made 28 days after the party seeking to set aside the judgment first learned of it. In this case, the strata applied to reverse the default order more than 28 days after it learned of it. While the CRT can make an order extending that period of time, it never did so in this case. The judge was perplexed by the CRT’s finding that the strata had applied promptly given that it had applied outside of the strict time limit stated in the rules.
In the end, the judge remitted the matter back to the CRT to decide. He declined to order costs against the CRT and instead awarded them against the strata even though the CRT’s foul-up had prejudiced the strata as much as it did Ms. Yoon.
This case emphasizes the flaws inherent in the CRT process and how they can quickly materialize to the detriment of all litigants.