Small claims cases under $5

B.C.’s online small claims court a world first

Removal of impaired driving, minor civil cases from courts improves efficiency, Justice Minister Suzanne Anton says

B.C.’s online Civil Resolution Tribunal has been resolving strata property disputes since last summer, and on June 1 it will expand to take on small claims disputes involving less than $5,000.

“This is the first online dispute resolution service in the world which is tied into the public civil justice system.” B.C. Justice Minister Suzanne Anton said. “Everyone is watching us on this one.”

It’s the latest step in B.C.’s effort to increase efficiency of the court system. With small claims up to $5,000 diverted to the tribunal, the limit for small claims lawsuits in provincial court will go up on June 1, from $25,000 to $35,000. Disputes over amounts greater than that are heard in B.C. Supreme Court.

The system allows people to work through a step-by-step online system to resolve disputes over debt, damage, recovery of personal property or specific performance of agreements, without appearing in court.

The first stage is a “guided pathway” that evaluates and suggests ways to settle the dispute, and most people don’t go further, Anton said. If there is still a dispute, the second stage is referral to a mediator.

The final stage is adjudication, where lawyers make a ruling that has the same authority as a court decision. Since last summer, most strata property disputes have been settled before that stage, with 13 cases settled by adjudication.

Those cases include one where an apartment owner was ordered to stop smoking tobacco and marijuana in his suite, after a series of complaints and unpaid fines under the strata bylaw prohibiting smoking. Others dealt with owner claims on the strata council, such as the cost of replacing patio doors.

Court systems across the country have struggled with the rising volume and complexity of criminal and civil cases. Some have been dismissed over delays, especially since the Supreme Court of Canada ordered time limits last year. Provincial court cases now have to be resolved in 18 months, and B.C. Supreme Court cases in 30 months, with exceptions for unusual circumstances.

Roadside licence suspensions and fines for impaired driving have removed about 6,000 cases a year out of criminal courts.

Anton said B.C. has seen fewer charges stayed due to the new time limits than other provinces, in part because of diversion of minor cases away from the courts.

 

Just Posted

The end of an Echo

Invermere Valley Echo shuts down operations in Columbia Valley

Creating a new narrative for Canal Flats

Economic development consultant hired, lists vision for next 90 days

UPDATE: Crews battle as wildfires rage in B.C. Interior

Crews brace for another day on B.C. firelines as no let up is likely

VIDEO: B.C. wildfires by the numbers

Wildfires continue to engulf regions of B.C.’s forests and communities.

VIDEO: More than 180 wildfires burning across B.C.

Firefighters from other provinces called in to assist

DTSS Grad March 2017

DTSS Grad March 2017

59 cats seized in Chase

59 neglected and injured cats were seized from a property in Chase

Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell dead at age 52

The singer/songwriter passed away early Thursday morning in Detroit

Paying tribute to a primeval passage

Uninterrupted celebrates the Adams River sockeye run in an extraordinary way.

UPDATE: Pemberton Music Festival cancelled, no automatic refunds

In the past, the music festival located in Pemberton drew large crowds last year of 180,000 fans

Medical wait times cost B.C. patients $2,300 each

New Fraser Institute report places B.C. at second worst in costs associated with long wait times

UPDATE: 22 killed at Ariana Grande concert

Witnesses reported hearing two loud bangs coming from near the arena’s bars at about 10:35 p.m.

One in three Canadian high school students have rode with drinking drivers, study reveals

Nearly one in five rode with a driver who’d been smoking pot

Top court to hear federal government’s appeal on residential school records

A lower court judge ruled to destroy the stories after 15 years unless consent is given to preserve

Most Read