On March 20, 2017, the Province of British Columbia announced significant changes to the jurisdiction of the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) and Provincial Court to address small claims court matters.
Since June 2016, British Columbians have turned to the CRT to resolve strata property disputes online. Effective June 1, 2017, it will be mandatory for most disputes up to $5,000 to use the CRT. This change will capture almost all employment-related disputes up to $5,000, which would otherwise have proceeded in small claims court. The CRT’s online process is intended to be efficient, accessible, and inexpensive, and can be accessed from a smartphone, tablet, or computer. CRT decisions are rendered by tribunal members, and leave for appeal can be filed with the BC Supreme Court.
In addition, the Provincial Court’s small claims jurisdiction will increase from $25,000 to $35,000. The Provincial Court in Vancouver and Richmond will also run one-hour simplified trials for cases with a monetary value of $5,001 to $10,000, which will be heard by Justice of the Peace Adjudicators. We note that once these change takes effect, a plaintiff who filed a Notice of Claim in Provincial Court prior to June 1, 2017, is permitted to amend their Notice of Claim to increase the amount claimed to up to $35,000, not including interest and expenses.