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

Annual Victoria Hospitals Foundation gala brings in nearly $700,000

Event raises a significant portion of $3.2 million goal for cardiac care campaign

Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra celebrates 20th anniversary

Norman Nelson founded the orchestra in 1997

High winds cancel slew of BC Ferries sailings

Travel to and from Victoria and Vancouver as well as Northern Gulf Islands affected

Three Sooke students awarded scholarships

Ike Barber Transfer Scholarship program awarded annually to undergraduate students

Sooke talk focuses on risk of nuclear war

Discussion and talk held on Nov. 30

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Forecast calls for a snowy Canadian winter

Canadians told to brace for a ‘classic’ Canadian winter with lots of snow

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip celebrate 70th anniversary

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh are celebrating their platinum wedding anniversary

Charles Manson, leader of murderous ’60s cult, dead at 83

Charles Manson, whose cult slayings horrified world, dies

Naked man arrested in Nanaimo, provided with pants

Suspect arrested for causing disturbance Nov. 13 near Bowen and Northfield roads

‘An officer and a gentleman’: Const. John Davidson is laid to rest

Thousands attend memorial service for slain Abbotsford Police officer

VIDEO: Coquihalla reopens near Merritt

Detours are available via Hwy. 8 and Hwy. 1

VIDEO: The Last Jedi is going to be the longest ‘Star Wars’ movie yet

Newest movie in the franchise will beat Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week.

Most Read