From June 1, 2017, small claims up to $5,000 falls under the jurisdiction of the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT), and cannot be brought in the Provincial Court any more. The monetary size of the claim is however not the only consideration when investigating jurisdiction. One of the most obvious is that all strata disputes are handled by the CRT, regardless of the monetary value of the claim.
As a guideline to the jurisdiction of the Civil Resolutions Tribunal, consider the following:
The CRT is not able to decide certain disputes. These include:
- Matters related to terminating or dissolving your interest in land or your strata lot.
- Disputes by or against former owners of strata property;
- Matters that affect land, such as (a) Ordering the sale of a strata lot, (b) Builder’s liens, (c) court orders respecting rebuilding damaged real property, (d) dealing with developers and phased strata plans, and (e) determining each owner’s percent share in the strata complex.
- Matters that involve slander, defamation or malicious prosecution.
- Enforcing orders from the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) or the Employment Standards Branch (ESB).
- Disputes where the event triggering it did not happen in BC.
- In relation to strata corporations, decide the following matters relating to significant issues in a strata complex:
- Appointment of an administrator to run the strata corporation;
- Orders vesting authority in a liquidator;
- Applications to wind up a strata corporation;
- Remedies under section 33 of the Strata Property Act for an alleged conflict of interest by a strata council member; or
- Appointment of voters when there is no person to vote in respect of a strata lot.
In general, it is prudent to remember that the CRT cannot:
- Deal with a claim for a second time, i.e. a claim that has already been filed with the CRT by someone else;
- Decide a claim if that dispute has already been filed or resolved through another legally binding process;
- Resolve a dispute if it is frivolous, vexatious or an abuse of process;
- Resolve an issue requiring the application of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
- Resolve a dispute if the limitation period has expired; or
- Decide a dispute if the claim is against the government, or if the government is a party to the dispute.
In relation to expenses, if a dispute is not resolved by agreement, and a tribunal member makes a final decision, the unsuccessful party may be required to pay the successful party’s tribunal fees and reasonable dispute-related expenses unless the tribunal decides otherwise.
This can include some or all of the following:
- Any tribunal fees paid by the other party in relation in the dispute
- Any fees and expenses paid by a party in relation to witness fees and summonses, and
- Any other reasonable expenses and charges that the tribunal considers directly related to the conduct of the tribunal dispute resolution process.
Except in extraordinary cases, the tribunal will not order one party to pay to another party any fees charged by a lawyer or another representative in the tribunal dispute process.