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BC Supreme Court Affirms Jurisdiction of Civil Resolution Tribunal in Strata Disputes

The new Civil Resolution Tribunal was created, in part, to take disputes between strata neighbours out of the overloaded and expensive Supreme Court system and resolve them in a simpler and more cost-effective tribunal process. Earlier this year, Mr. Justice Baird affirmed the jurisdiction of the CRT over these types of disputes.

In the matter of Yas v. Pope, 2018 BCSC 282, the petitioners were residents of a strata building who were involved in a noise dispute with their neighbours and the strata council. The matter was proceeding through the CRT’s facilitation process. However, the petitioners took the position that a fair determination of the issues in dispute could not be achieved through the CRT’s process. They applied to the Supreme Court under the “parachute clause” of section 12.3 of the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act for a decision that it would not be in the interests of justice and fairness for the CRT to resolve the matter, essentially seeking a declaration that the CRT should not have jurisdiction over the dispute.

Mr. Justice Baird found that the CRT had the tools and expertise to come to a fair decision on the matter. Not every matter requires a full trial and the CRT has many options to deal with evidence and assess the credibility of parties and witnesses. The CRT is a specialized tribunal whose members are well versed in strata law, and are able to analyze facts and law to make fair decisions on the merits of the case. Mr. Justice Baird also praised the assigned facilitator’s common-sense approach to facilitation of the matter.

This was the first reported decision analyzing the “parachute clause” in section 12.3 of the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act. The decision shows that the Supreme Court will not lightly take jurisdiction over strata disputes. Matters that appear to be suitable for determination by the CRT will likely remain in that process, unless there are exceptional circumstances that would justify the matter being moved to the Supreme Court.

Case summary by Karen Orr