B.C. residents will soon be able to sidestep a physical courtroom and fight many small claims disputes online.
Starting June 1, the Ministry of Justice says the Civil Resolution Tribunal will begin accepting small claims cases involving amounts of $5,000 or less.
The tribunal is Canada’s first online mechanism for resolving homeowner association and small claim disputes, but is currently restricted to property issues valued at under than $5,000.
Once it begins accepting cases, use of the online tribunal will be mandatory for most disputes up to the $5,000 value.
The Justice Ministry has also increased the limit of a small claim case to $35,000 in an effort to free the justice system to resolve other matters.
The ministry says in a release that the new tribunal is the first-ever on-line panel integrated directly into the public justice system, offering tips that may immediately resolve some issues, while providing advice or expert decisions if a dispute reaches an impasse.
"The expansion of the Civil Resolution Tribunal into small claims under $5,000 and the increase in small claims court jurisdiction to $35,000 will make it easier for British Columbians to resolve their legal disputes more affordably, and with less complexity," says Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton.
The changes are a giant step forward for access to justice, she says.