The Civil Resolution Tribunal (or CRT) is an administrative tribunal 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.
The current BC government has drastically expanded the tribunal’s jurisdiction to decide several matters related to ICBC and motor vehicle accidents. Specifically, as of April 1, 2019, the CRT now has 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 BC government; and
- Claims of $50,000 or less.
With these new additions to its jurisdiction, the CRT – which currently only has 8 full-time adjudicators – will be solely responsible for deciding between 60% to 80% of all ICBC claims involving accidents that occur after April 1, 2019. To put the enormity of that expectation into perspective, approximately 95,000 people were injured in accidents in 2017.
It’s important to remember that the CRT is not a court. It is an administrative tribunal. Unlike court hearings that are presided over by judges, CRT hearings are presided over by “members” who are not required to have legal education, experience, or training.
Concerns about potential bias have also been raised about the CRT. This is because CRT members are only appointed for 2-year terms. If they want to keep their job beyond those 2 years, they must be reappointed by the province’s Attorney-General who, currently, just so happens to also be the Minister response for ICBC. The appearance of a conflict-of-interest is clear. This concern does not arise with judges who, once appointed to the bench, can sit until they turn 75. With that security of tenure, judges remain independent of the Executive Branch of government and can decide cases on their merits without fear of retribution.