Individuals that find themselves involved in a small claims dispute or battling it out with their strata council should note that in 2015 British Columbia is introducing Canada’s first online tribunal, the Civil Resolution Tribunal (the “CRT”). The CRT will have non-exclusive jurisdiction over most small claims matters (including many disputes involving $25,000 or less) as well as a range of strata property disputes including the following:

  • non-payment of monthly strata fees or fines;
  • unfair actions by the strata corporation or by people owning more than half of the strata lots in a complex;
  • uneven, arbitrary or non-enforcement of strata bylaws (such as noise, pets, parking, rentals);
  • issues of financial responsibility for repairs and the choice of bids for services;
  • irregularities in the conduct of meetings, voting, minutes or other matters;
  • interpretation of the legislation, regulations or bylaws; and
  • issues regarding the common property.

Participation in the CRT will be voluntary so both parties will have to agree to enter into the process. The exception to this rule appears to be situations in which a strata owner elects to file with the CRT against a strata corporation, in which case the strata corporation will be required to participate. Once both parties agree to take part in the process, information and documents will be exchanged through an online platform.

To make the CRT easily navigable the tribunal’s process has been broken down into three “phases”:

  1. Party to party negotiations;
  2. Facilitated case management (if necessary); and finally
  3. Adjudication (if necessary).

The result of the CRT process will be either a negotiated settlement (through one of the first two phases) or a final and binding decision (through the final phase).

The CRT process is designed to be flexible and convenient. It is intended to allow participants to resolve disputes without having to step into a courtroom and the scheduling complications this can entail. No doubt the implementation of the CRT process will be watched with interest by jurisdictions across Canada.

More information on the CRT is available at the CRT’s website.

For information on Strata Property disputes and how the CRT may affect you (particularly if you are a strata council or corporation) contact Ryan Lee.