When the Keyboard is Mightier than the Sword: Mandatory Online Resolution of Strata Disputes
As readers of this blog will know, as a result of changes implemented by the Land Title and Survey Authority on November 1, 2012, almost all documents and plans submitted to the land title office for registration must now be submitted electronically. Recently, there has been a similar significant development regarding strata disputes.
On March 10, 2015, the Civil Resolution Tribunal Amendment Act was introduced and, if passed, will make it mandatory for strata disputes to be submitted to the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT). The CRT is Canada’s first ever online tribunal, and is intended to be accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The Government’s rationale is that the CRT will provide a fast and economical route for resolving strata disputes as, to date, the only avenues available to parties have been either arbitration or the B.C. Supreme or Small Claims courts (depending on the amount of the dispute), meaning that the cost of pursuing a claim often outweighs the value of the claim itself. Removing these disputes from the court system will also free up court time for other matters.
There are important exceptions, however. Parties will have the right to request that a court hear their matter rather than the CRT. Also, the CRT will have limited jurisdiction. Specifically, the CRT will have no ability to make decisions affecting land, such as:
- ordering the sale of a strata lot;
- ordering the rebuilding of damaged real property;
- dealing with developers and phased strata plans; or
- determining unit entitlement.
The CRT will also have no power in respect of the following significant strata matters:
- appointing an administrator;
- vesting authority in a liquidator;
- considering an application to wind up a strata corporation;
- considering allegations of council member conflict of interest; or
- appointing voters when there is no person to vote in respect of a strata lot.
It is anticipated that the CRT website will go online this summer.
Click here for a link to the Ministry of Justice’s press release regarding the proposed legislative amendment.
amendment Civil Resolution Tribunal disputes Land Title Office legislative online resolution strata disputes