What is the Civil Resolution Tribunal?
The Civil Resolution Tribunal (the “CRT”) is Canada’s first online dispute-resolution tribunal. The CRT has jurisdiction over the following: small claims disputes of up to $5000, strata property disputes, motor vehicle injury disputes, and societies and cooperative associations disputes.
The CRT’s mandate is to encourage the resolution of disputes by agreement between parties, or if an agreement cannot be reached, to resolve the dispute itself. It does this through a progressive process which is as follows:
1) An individual who wants to initiate a claim in which the CRT has jurisdiction will have to fill out an online application form and pay a fee. From there, either the individual who is initiating the dispute or the CRT will serve the other parties with a “Dispute Notice”.
2) The respondent will then have to respond to the “Dispute Notice”. This will provide the respondent with an opportunity to explain their side of the dispute.
3) Once all parties have responded to the dispute, the CRT in most cases will require the parties to negotiate on a settlement.
4) If a dispute cannot be resolved by negotiation, a member of the CRT will try to help the parties reach an agreement by facilitation.
5) If the parties still cannot come to an agreement, an independent CRT member will make a decision about the dispute.
Can I have a Lawyer Represent me?
In some disputes, you may be represented by a lawyer, and in others, permission from the CRT must be obtained. For instance, for motor vehicle injury disputes filed on or after April 1, 2019, you may be represented by a lawyer; however, for small claims, strata property, and societies and cooperative associations disputes, you will need to seek permission from the CRT to be represented by a lawyer.
If an application to be represented by a lawyer is rejected by the CRT, a lawyer is still able to assist a client in preparing documents and provide legal advice.
When Should You Request to be Represented by an Attorney?
A lawyer may be helpful if your dispute involves complex legal issues, if you need help to navigate the CRT process or if the opposing party is being represented by an attorney (to name a few). A lawyer, can help you negotiate an effective settlement, give you peace of mind, and in the long run, cost you less.