Big Changes to Small Claims

Small Claims under $5001

Last week, the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT)–Canada’s first online tribunal–began accepting small claims disputes $5000 and under.

Small claims disputes that the CRT can resolve include a wide variety of issues between individuals and organizations. You can start with the Solution Explorer, the first step in the CRT process, to find information and self-help tools for your issue. You can also apply for dispute resolution right from the Solution Explorer.

If you go through to obtain a CRT order, it may be enforced by filing it in the BC Provincial Court. When you do so, it has the same force and effect as a judgment of the BC Provincial Court.

What about Small Claims over $5000?

The BC Provincial Court now handles Small Claims cases between $5001 and $35,000. The Court has put together a helpful page that goes over the changes, including:

  • types of disputes;
  • what the CRT can and cannot hear;
  • when a claim under $5001 can still be heard by the Provincial Court;
  • when the CRT might refuse a claim;
  • what to do when you are not happy with a CRT decision;
  • special procedures in Vancouver and Richmond; and
  • alternatives to court.

What resources & help are there for Small Claims?

With the help of Judge Ann Rounthwaite (retired), Digital Communications Coordinator for the BC Provincial Court, we have updated Where do I start for information on Small Claims Court?

This page provides a curated collection of helpful basics for all things Small Claims.

It includes a printable PDF handout with:

  • A summary of the resources; and
  • A short bit.ly link so anyone can quickly access the full list of links.

Other Provincial Court resources

The following Common Questions have also been updated:

Access all “Where do I start…?” questions and handouts at: bit.ly/clicklawbcpc

Stay informed:

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June 2017 Events (Online, Vancouver, BC-wide)

Bookmark this post! It will be updated as more events are announced. You can also get frequent updates via our Twitter. Have a suggestion? Email us.

  • Tuesday, June 6 (10am-12pm): Usability Testing: A Way to Enhance Your PLEI Resources A workshop at the Law Foundation of BC offices in Vancouver. In developing a public legal education and information resource, usability testing is an excellent way to learn about how people might use your resource and to improve its ease of use and effectiveness. There are several usability testing methods, many of which are increasingly affordable even on small projects. This workshop will share the range of methods in the usability testing toolbox and when to apply each method.
  • June 7-14 (various dates): Nidus logo_niduspresents online webinars & an in-person presentation on Personal Planning

Wednesday, June 7 (11:30-12:30pm) Online Webinar: Live Demo of the Personal Planning Registry. Register Online.

Wednesday, June 14 (11:30-12:30pm) Online Webinar: Planning for Health Care & Personal Care. Register Online.

Wednesday, June 14 (1:00-2:30pm) In-Person Presentation: Planning for incapacity and end-of-life. No Registration required. At South Granville Seniors Centre, 1420 West 12th Avenue (between Granville & Hemlock) in Vancouver. Held in lounge on 3rd floor.

Wednesday, June 28 (11:30-12:30pm) Online Webinar: Planning for Financial & Legal Matters. Register Online.

  • June 13-28 (various dates): Courthouse Libraries BC presents various online webinars open to advocates and community workers:

Tuesday, June 13 (12:30pm-2:00pm): Working More Effectively with Clients Who Have Mental Health Issues.
Advocates around BC report they are increasingly providing services to clients with complex and multiple barriers. In this 1.5 hour webinar offered jointly with PovNet, Kristi Yuris and Kris Sutherland will provide practical strategies aimed at increasing each advocate’s capacity to work more effectively with clients with mental health issues. NOTE: This Webinar is now sold out. There is space in our in-person group viewings at the Vancouver (800 Smithe St) and Kamloops (455 Columbia St) library locations. Please email training@courthouselibrary.ca to register for an in-person viewing or to be added to our waitlist for the webinar.

Monday, June 19 (12:30-1:30pm): Civil Resolution Tribunal: BC’s New Online Tribunal (An Update).
The online Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) is resolving strata property disputes, and as of June 1, will also begin accepting small claims disputes under $5,000. In this 1 hour webinar hosted jointly with the Civil Resolution Tribunal, Shannon Salter will walk you through the CRT process including some changes specific to small claims disputes and discuss the use of CRT since inception. She’ll also answer your questions about how to help your clients using the CRT.
Register online.

Wednesday, June 21 (12:30-1:30pm): Representing Your Client at a Hearing of the Mental Health Review Board.
In this one hour webinar offered jointly with Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS), you will hear from Diane Nielsen and another legal advocate of CLAS. This webinar will assist lawyers and advocates in representing people who are involuntarily detained under the Mental Health Act (MHA) at Mental Health Review Board (Review Panel) hearings to review their involuntary detention.
Register online.

Wednesday, June 28 (12:30-1:30pm): Clicklaw Refresher for Libraries & Community Helpers.
This one hour webinar is aimed toward community helpers and public library staff. LawMatters Coordinator Shannon McLeod and Clicklaw Coordinator Audrey Jun will be reviewing how to search Clicklaw for reliable legal information specific to BC as well as how to use Clicklaw Wikibooks and the Clicklaw Helpmap to make better referrals.
Register online.

  • Wednesday, June 21 (starting at 6:30pm): BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA) holds their Annual General Meeting at the YWCA Hotel in Vancouver. The AGM is your chance to hear about their work, elect BC FIPA board members, and talk about some of this year’s most important freedom of information and privacy issues. It will feature a talk by Sinziana Gutiu about the current climate for information and privacy issues in BC and what BC’s new political climate could bring. RSVP to fipa@fipa.bc.ca.

Stay informed:

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Changes to Small Claims on June 1st

What is Small Claims Court?

Small Claims Court is a division of BC’s Provincial Court. It is for most disputes about debts or damages involving less than $25,000 (with some exceptions). This limit will be increased to $35,000 in June – see below.

The process is generally simpler and faster than the Supreme Court of BC, and is designed for people to use with or without a lawyer.

Changes coming June 1st

The Civil Resolution Tribunal is Canada’s first online tribunal for resolving strata and small claims disputes.

From June 1, 2017, the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) will begin resolving small claims disputes up to $5,000. This will be combined with an increase to $35,000 in the BC Provincial Court’s jurisdiction for small claims cases.

This is the first phase of implementing the CRT’s small claims jurisdiction and using the CRT will be mandatory for most claims up to $5,000. See the official announcement from the Ministry of Justice here.

Update from Provincial Court

See this update from BC Provincial Court on the important changes to Small Claims Court. It covers where the Provincial Court will still have a role in claims $5000 or less, after June 1st, what you can do if you are not satisfied with a CRT adjudicator’s decision, and much more.

More about the CRT

From the CRT website:

  • The Civil Resolution Tribunal is Canada’s first online tribunal for resolving strata and small claims disputes.
  • Right now, the CRT is accepting strata property disputes for intake. Soon, it will begin to accept small claims disputes as well. It offers new ways to resolve your legal issues in a timely and cost-effective manner.
  • The CRT encourages a collaborative, problem-solving approach to dispute resolution, rather than the traditional courtroom model. The CRT aims to provide timely access to justice, built around your life and your needs. It does this by providing legal information, self-help tools, and dispute resolution services to help solve your problem, as early as possible.
  • You can use the CRT 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from a computer or mobile device that has an internet connection.
  • Your interaction with the other participant and/or the CRT can be done when it is convenient for you.
  • Telephone and mail services will also be available for those who can’t access the internet.

The tribunal has been resolving strata disputes since July 2016, encouraging collaborative agreements and making binding decisions when people cannot agree. Once filed, a Tribunal order has the same force and effect as an order of the Supreme Court of BC.

We’ll be posting more information about the CRT and changes to small claims, as it becomes available. Stay tuned.

Stay informed with the CRT:

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2016 Bi-monthly Update Series: September-October

In our 2015 year-end update, we promised to provide bimonthly updates to new resources and services added to Clicklaw in those two months. Here is a sample from the changes in September and October:

Jan-Feb | Mar-Apr | May-Jun | Jul-Aug | Sep-Oct | Nov-Dec


connected-car-coverThe Connected Car
by BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association

The report outlines how data culled from vehicle telematics and infotainment systems can be used for safety, monitoring, customer relationship management etc. Yet some data harvested from cars can also be used to track and profile customers for marketing and other purposes.

starting-a-small-business-in-bc-coverStarting a Small Business in BC Guide
by BC Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Responsible for Labour

This 2016 edition is an introductory guide to help you with planning, implementing, and developing a small business. It provides essential information you need to know as well as links to additional resources to help ensure that your new business is successful.

cpabc-logoLegal Workshop videos
by Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia

The videos from CPABC’s legal workshops include topics such as workplace discrimination, victims of crime, and rights for youth in transition.

clas-logoBC Judicial Review Self-Help Guide
by Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS)

Have you received a decision from the BC government or a tribunal (decision maker) that you think is seriously flawed or unfair? After you have gone through all your appeal options within the system, you may be able to ask a judge to review the decision.

CLAS has a guide for people who are representing themselves in a judicial review. We have now updated and modified this guide into a web-based form where users can navigate through the judicial review process for their selected tribunal. This website gives an overview of options that people have, step-by-step information about filing court documents, and templates that people can use when self-representing in Court. The website also allows people to get in touch with CLAS lawyers to ask for information and advice about their situation.

dabc-logoBC Disability Benefits Help Sheets
by Disability Alliance BC

As of September 2016, Disability Alliance BC has fully updated their Help Sheet series to reflect the changes to the PWD benefit, including a rate increase and changes to the BC Bus Pass Program.

emilys-choice-coverEmily’s Choice
by Legal Services Society

Emily’s Choice uses storytelling and images to describe child protection. Co-produced with the Healthy Aboriginal Network, the video and graphic novel tell the story of Emily, who struggles with addiction and an unhealthy relationship. She loves her son, Greg, but can’t always take care of him. When he goes into foster care, she gets legal help and family support to get him back.

The webpage provides links to the video, trailer, online version of the graphic novel, ordering information, who can help, and promotional material.

the-factum-logoThe Factum
by Legal Services Society

The Factum is a Legal Services Society blog about the law in British Columbia and how people can navigate the legal system. While it talks a bit about all aspects of the law, it focuses mainly on how the legal system affects people who can’t afford a lawyer.

Civil Resolution Tribunal- BC’s New Online Tribunal0000crt (Webinar recording)
by Civil Resolution Tribunal and Courthouse Libraries BC

This webinar focused on the recent changes to the strata dispute process brought about in the Civil Resolution Tribunal Amendment Act and served as an introduction to the CRT’s resolution services (including guides, videos and sample document templates) and their Solution Explorer software tool.

 

Stay informed:

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Free Webinar Training: Strata Property Disputes & the Civil Resolution Tribunal

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Cross-posted from the LawMatters Blog.

As of July 2016, most strata property disputes must be resolved using the new online Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT). Join us for a free webinar for community workers, advocates and public librarians:

Register: Civil Resolution Tribunal Intake Process
Presented by CRT Chair, Shannon Salter
September 8, 12:30-1:30pm PDT

The online Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) is up and running to resolve strata (condominium) property disputes. This session will show you how to use the CRT’s online information and application systems, and answer some common questions about how to help your clients use the CRT. The webinar will be recorded and made available after the presentation to help users navigate this fantastic tool.

Overview

The CRT’s goal is to improve access to justice by using technology to provide accessible and affordable dispute resolution services. As a first step, the CRT’s Solution Explorer software application provides free legal information and self-help tools. You can access the Solution Explorer here. These tools help to diagnose problems and resolve them through information, videos, and template letters that are directly relevant to the dispute.

Accessible 24/7 from computers and smartphones, the Solution Explorer helps people resolve their disputes without having to go to court or use the CRT process.

If people cannot resolve a dispute themselves using these tools, they can begin a CRT claim from within the Solution Explorer. The CRT then issues a notice package, which the applicant serves on the other parties to the dispute. The claim goes through a facilitation phase, where a dispute resolution expert works with the parties to achieve an agreement between the parties. If this is not possible, an expert, independent tribunal member will make a binding decision after a hearing. This CRT decision is enforceable as a court order.

Check out our previous CRT webinar for a refresher on the Solution Explorer!

Stay informed:

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Civil Resolution Tribunal accepting early strata intake July 13th

Need a refresher on Online Dispute Resolution? Check out the introduction to our ODR series here.civil-tribunal-act-logo-large

The following entry is a cross-post from the Civil Resolution Tribunal website.

By Shannon Salter
Chair of the CRT


We’re happy to let you know that on July 13, 2016, we’ll begin accepting strata claims for early intake.

By starting early intake, we’ll have a chance to test our process to make sure it works as well as possible for the public once we’re fully open. It will also allow us to provide a little help for people with ongoing strata disputes who are eager to take their first steps toward a resolution.

We’ve taken a lot of steps to prepare for early strata intake this summer. The Civil Resolution Tribunal Act strata provisions and the related amendments will be in force on July 13, 2016. The CRT’s fees have been set and the CRT’s rules are being finalized.

On July 13, 2016, we’ll have detailed information on the website telling you how to start the CRT process. Basically, it’ll work like this:

  1. You’ll start with the Solution Explorer, to learn more about your dispute and how to resolve it without needing to start a CRT claim.
  2. If you can’t resolve your dispute using the support from the Solution Explorer, you’ll have the option to start a CRT claim from the Dispute Summary screen in the Solution Explorer.
  3. You’ll use our Application Checklist to make sure you have all the information you need to complete your online Application for Dispute Resolution.
  4. You’ll complete and file your Application for Dispute Resolution online. Paper forms are not available for the early intake process, but you are welcome to have a trusted friend or family member help you fill in the online form.
  5. You’ll have to pay the application fee, or apply for a fee waiver if you have low income. You can pay the fee or apply for a fee waiver online as part of the application process. Here’s more about the CRT’s fees.
  6. We’ll provide you with a Dispute Notice to give the other parties in the dispute. We’ll let you know how to do that, as well as next steps.

Please remember that the CRT is not completely implemented yet. We are not yet fully staffed, and the technology is not completely built. We’ll use this time to test and improve our online intake processes for strata. Although we’ll start accepting applications for strata dispute resolution, we won’t be ready to resolve disputes right away. That will happen once we’re fully open to accept and resolve strata disputes in the fall.

You may have to wait several months for your dispute to move to the facilitation phase. We’re still getting ready for the large number of strata disputes we expect to see once we’re fully open. We’ll need everyone’s patience as we learn and improve on the job.

Here’s a reminder of some of the benefits and limitations of using the CRT’s early intake process for your strata dispute.

Benefits of CRT early intake for your strata dispute:

  • It can pause the limitation period. Many strata claims have a 2 year limitation period. The limitation period acts like a countdown clock, and when this time runs out, you may not be able to bring a claim to the CRT or a court. But, if the CRT accepts your dispute into its early intake process, the limitation period will be ‘paused’ and stop counting down. You can find out more about limitation periods here.
  • You’ll be ready for CRT resolution. As soon as we’re ready to start moving strata disputes into our facilitation phase, you’ll be ready for this next step toward a resolution. Just making your early intake application might help to clarify the issues and encourage an early resolution by agreement among the parties in your dispute.
  • You’ll help shape the CRT process. Our early intake will help us test our online intake processes to make sure they meet your needs. You might get a chance to show us how you think things should work, which will make the CRT better for everyone.

IMPORTANT: Limits of filing a CRT claim during early intake

  • The CRT’s full dispute resolution services won’t be available during early intake. You will be able to start your claim, but this is mainly a testing phase for intake. Many disputes will need to wait until the rest of our processes are ready before they are resolved. We expect this to happen in the fall. Our timeline target of 60 to 90 days won’t apply to the early intake testing.
  • Your ability to go to court may be limited. If you apply for strata dispute resolution with the CRT, you and the other parties will be required to continue in the CRT, rather than going to court instead. If you start, and then decide you would rather go to court instead of waiting for the CRT to fully open, you’ll need to ask the CRT’s permission. If this happens, the CRT would probably agree to it during early intake.
  • Not everything will be online. You’ll be able to use the Solution Explorer for strata disputes and you’ll be able to apply to the CRT using our online system. However, other dispute resolution processes will be done through email, video, telephone or mail, while we continue to build the CRT technology.

Please watch for more information about the CRT’s process in the coming days. Please also let us know if you have any questions or comments at info@crtbc.ca.


STAY INFORMED WITH THE CIVIL RESOLUTION TRIBUNAL

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Community Updates – Nidus, DABC, CRT

Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD)

Nidus is providing updates and public legal education on the status of physician assisted dying legislation on Ask Joanne FAQ (Update: See new post here), which includes resources such as:

Nidus logo
Nidus is a non-profit charity that runs an online Registry on planning for end-of-life, incapacity & other support needs. Nidus is an expert on Representation Agreements and other personal planning documents.

Register for free webinar presentations on Planning for Health Care & Personal Care for more information on MAiD.

BCCLA is also providing updates on the issue via their website here.

Updates to PWD and PPMB Guides

Disability Alliance BC has completed a full update of the following application and appeal guides:

DABC-logo

DABC helps British Columbians with disabilities access supports through front-line & systemic advocacy, community projects, workshops & publications.

The guides are designed for advocates, but can also be used by people applying for or appealing the denial of benefits. They focus on applications, reconsiderations, and tribunals for income supports and medical supplies/services provided by the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation.

If you would like DABC to mail you this publication, please call Val at 604-875-0188 or email her at feedback@disabilityalliancebc.org

Feedback welcome on CRT Draft Rules

0000crt
The CRT will give you choices about how, when, and where you resolve small claims and strata property (condominium) disputes, built around your needs and your life.

The Civil Resolution Tribunal is welcoming feedback until July 6, 2016 on its draft Rules of Procedure.

Click here for more details on how to participate, including: an explanation of what the Rules are, what they will do, how people will use them, and what’s different about them.

Need a refresher on Online Dispute Resolution? Check out the introduction to our ODR series here.

Stay informed:

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Training for Community Workers, Advocates, Librarians – CRT & Strata Issues

Do you help the public in your work? Do you ever get asked questions about strata problems? Wondering what resources are available for clients involved in a strata dispute or looking for strata information?

Sign up for this free webinar:

March 22nd, 1-2 pm PST – CRT Chair Shannon Salter presents: Introducing the Civil Resolution Tribunal: Strata Dispute Solution Explorer

What does the CRT have to do with strata disputes?

In this 1 hour webinar, Shannon will explain what the CRT is, the extent of its jurisdiction (what kinds of disputes it can hear), and how the Solution Explorer fits into the dispute resolution process. If you help members of the public in your work, you are invited to come and learn about this new model for civil justice, designed to increase access to justice.

The CRT opens this year. The first stage is the launch of the Strata Dispute branch of the “Solution Explorer”. The Solution Explorer will be the first phase of the dispute resolution process where users are guided to useful information, problem diagnosis and self-help.  Self-help can include tools like templates, calculators or checklists that will help prepare users to take steps toward resolution in their strata issue.

We hope you can join us. Register today!

For further information and updates, see What’s New at the CRT or subscribe via email or RSS on the left column of our blog to follow our ongoing ODR series.

Stay informed:

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Online Dispute Resolution in BC – Got a strata dispute?

Intro | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3a | Part 3b


The Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) team is looking for people to help beta-test their web-based Solution Explorer. As we mentioned in our Introduction to ODR in BC, the CRT will be an online tribunal opening in 2016. It will be accessible 24/7, and can be used by people to resolve their small claims and strata/condo disputes.

The first step in the CRT process is called the Solution Explorer, a self-help tool that helps diagnose the type of problem or dispute, provides helpful related information, self-help options and identifies a recommended next stage of the process.

Who Can Take Part?Older-couple-with-laptop

The CRT is looking specifically for a group of 8 to 10 people who are owners, tenants or occupants of a strata. Participants will be observed using the Solution Explorer to resolve real life strata disputes by CRT staff to see how it is used and how it can be made better.

What are the Requirements to Participate?

If you can attend a 30 minute appointment on either of these two dates below, look up the other requirements here on the CRT’s website, where you will find more information on how to get involved:

  • December 3, 2015 in downtown Victoria OR
  • December 7, 2015 in downtown Vancouver

To learn more about the CRT, visit their website.

Related Common Questions on Clicklaw:

Stay informed:

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Online Dispute Resolution in BC: Case Study #2

Intro | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3a | Part 3b


Our last Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) case study showcased Consumer Protection BC’s online platform.

CPBC_Logo
Resolve your dispute with Consumer Protection BC’s online platform

We have an update: the platform will be used as an early resolution tool for select BC-licensed debt collection agencies. Their aim is to help consumers who don’t feel comfortable speaking to debt collectors over the phone, and who would rather communicate online.

Visit Consumer Protection BC’s blog page for more info on the debt collection pilot project.

Small Claims BC

We now continue with our ODR series, this time focusing on Small Claims BC.

British Columbians who have disputes where the amount is no more than $25,000 turn to Small Claims Court to find a resolution. However, on average, claims take over a year to reach a judgment.

SmallClaimsBC.ca provides British Columbians with an alternative way to settle disputes without going to court using their ODR platform. Using ODR can help save time and money, which make sense as priorities when you are disputing a smaller amount.

smallclaims3
Click to enlarge infographic

step01

New users to the platform will be asked a series of questions to create an online profile before starting their claim. If you already have an account set up as a “returning user”, you need only enter your credentials to access the dashboard.

Small_Claims_window

Enter your information to complete your online account. This creates a dashboard where your claim(s) can be accessed and managed.

Continue reading »

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