On April 8, 2021, the B.C. Court of Appeal granted the partial stay as requested by the Province. The partial stay order will be in effect until the Court of Appeal decides on the Attorney General’s appeal from the B.C. Supreme Court decision.
As a result, for motor vehicle accidents that happen between April 1, 2019, and April 30, 2021, litigants have a choice of having their dispute resolved through the CRT, or by filing a claim in court if the dispute is about:
- whether an injury is a “minor injury” for the purposes of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act (section 133(1)(b) of the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act); and
- liability and personal injury and property damage of up to $50,000 (section 133(1)(c) of the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act).
The option of proceeding in either the CRT or the court will continue to be available until the Court of Appeal releases its decision in the Attorney General’s appeal.
On April 1, 2021, the Ministry of the Attorney General released the “Minister’s Statement on Civil Resolution Tribunal Case”, announcing its next steps following the March 2, 2021 decision of Chief Justice Hinkson of the BC Supreme Court striking down ss. 133(1)(b) and (c) of the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act (the “Act”), finding them unconstitutional and of no force and effect (the “Decision”).
The Province has appealed the Decision, and in the April 1 Statement, the Attorney General announced his intention to apply for a stay which would allow the portions of s. 133 which were struck to remain in force until the Province’s appeal is decided.
The Civil Resolutions Tribunal was established in 2016. Its jurisdiction was expanded in 2019 as part of the Provincial Government’s push to bring down the cost of motor vehicle insurance [see Minor Injury Cap – Motor Vehicle Claims In BC (Part 1) and Minor Injury Cap – Motor Vehicle Claims In BC (Part 2)]. The Decision found that two of its expanded powers were unconstitutional and that the Civil Resolution Tribunal (the “CRT”) does not have jurisdiction to:
- determine if an injury is a “minor injury”; or
- hear claims for personal injury and property damage of between $5,000 and $50,000.
A stay would both allow the CRT to resolve disputes which were already before it at the time of the March 2 Decision, and to give new claimants the choice of whether to file an action in the CRT or the Court until such time as the stay is lifted or the appeal is decided. Without the stay, disputes which were before the CRT on March 2 will remain “on hold” and new claims will have to be filed in the appropriate Court.
In the Statement, Attorney General David Eby reiterated his faith in the CRT’s ability to decide motor vehicle injury claims and the purpose of giving the CRT that jurisdiction: “When we made the changes to [the Act], we made it so those who are injured in motor vehicle accidents can use the CRT to resolve their lower-value disputes in a timely and fair manner. The CRT is an independent tribunal which has been in place for years and fairly resolved thousands of disputes, including small claims and strata property disputes”.
Neither the March 2 Decision nor the application for a stay affects the CRT’s intended jurisdiction over the “No-Fault” enhanced care benefits, scheduled to take effect on May 1, 2021.