With mobile technology, computers and broadband relevant in households and pockets, the digital age is creating opportunities to increase access to justice and modify dispute resolution services. Below are some of the online dispute resolution avenues available (or soon to be) to the public in British Columbia:
British Columbia Property Assessment Appeal Board
If you believe your British Columbia property assessment is incorrect you can submit your complaint online at bcassessment.ca.
If the issue is not remedied beforehand, and if you are unhappy with respect to the panel’s decision at your hearing, you can file an appeal with the British Columbia Property Assessment Appeal Board online via their website. The status of your appeal can also be viewed on the website, along with past decisions. This may then lead to an Appeal Management Teleconference and possibly an in person hearing.
Consumer Protection British Columbia
Consumer Protection British Columbia (“CPBC”) supports online dispute resolution by providing a portal to submit a dispute against a business. CPBC provides this online forum for consumers and businesses to connect in an effort to solve their disputes and it is a great cost effective first port of call.
The step by step instructions provided also make the online dispute process very easy to navigate. However, it is important to note that both the consumer and the business involved in the dispute must agree to use the service.
For more information, visit Consumer Protection BC’s website.
Civil Resolution Tribunal
The Civil Resolution Tribunal (the “Tribunal”) was created under The Civil Resolution Tribunal Act (British Columbia) (the “Act”) and it will make its dispute resolution services available to the public online.
The process is generally voluntary and therefore the Tribunal is aimed at resolving claims where the parties involved have consented to use it (section 6 and 7 of the Act).
The Tribunal has jurisdiction to deal with issues relating to small claims (not exceeding $25,000), such as issues relating to “debt or damages, recovery of personal property, specific performance of an agreement relating to personal property or services and relief from opposing claims to personal property.” (Part 1 of the Schedule to the Act).
In addition, the Tribunal can deal with certain issues under the Strata Property Act including “the interpretation or application of the Strata Property Act or a regulation, bylaw or rule under that Act, the common property or common assets of the strata corporation, the use or enjoyment of a strata lot and money owing, including money owing as a fine, under the Strata Property Act or a regulation, bylaw or rule under that Act.” (Part 2 of the Schedule to the Act)
The dispute resolution process will include various components that will include online information (free), negotiation, case management and finally, if need be, arbitration and a binding decision from the Tribunal.
According to the Tribunal’s website they aim to be up and running later in 2015. For more detailed information visit the Tribunal’s website.