Roger Hough introduced our guest speaker Alison Wake, Legal Counsel for The Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT)  Roger’s little poll found that few people knew about the Tribunal. Alison joined CRT as case manager in 2018 and is now legal counsel for the tribunal. Prior to this she practiced law in Victoria and moved to Kamloops with her partner Nathan and cat, Pete. 
Alison acknowledged she is joining us from the traditional territory of the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc peoples. CRT is an administrative tribunal intended to bring the justice system to the public through an online format.  It focuses on a wide range of civil disputes (not criminal or family law). It replaces court proceedings to allow a proportionate, flexible, effective, affordable, timely and accessible judicial response to the claims.  Examples include Condominium (strata) disputes, small claims under $5k, Accident Claims, Society and Coop disputes, and most recently ICBC Enhanced Care disputes. The focus is on early and collaborative dispute resolution through alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. Fees are waived if you are a social assistance recipient or reduced if you earn below defined thresholds. The website features an “artificial intelligence” tool called “Solution Explorer” to guide users to options for resolution in their situation. In its first year 5500 people used Solution Explorer and of those, only 300 disputes were not resolved by the parties in advance and were formally filed with the CRT. This year there were 46,000 users and only 5500 claims filed. Significant growth in 5 years. Case Managers work with the parties and hold an online mediation session. If there is no agreement, an online hearing occurs and the Tribunal makes a decision. Around 30% of filed claims end up requiring a decision by the RCT. These are published on the website and can be enforced the same as a Court Order.
Alison answered questions and further indicated that this is taking pressure off the court system.  RCT also does some employment contract disputes (except where Employment Standards are involved).  Tribunal decision-makers are practicing lawyers. Case Managers can also be lawyers and others with backgrounds in dispute resolution.  Decisions are made by a single Tribunal member but are peer reviewed by other Tribunal members and Vice-Chairs. Anyone can bring a dispute that is related to BC. Generally CRT does not have jurisdiction to hear complaints against the government.  Small claims disputes can be appealed through a Notice of Objection which invalidates the CRT decision and they can re-file in Prov. Court. Strata disputes are subject to judicial review, where the court will review the decision of the RCT. Some neighbour disputes are heard through the small claims stream.
Thanks Alison for a very interesting and informative presentation!