BC Supreme Court clarifies Civil Resolution Tribunal’s authority over minor injury claims

The court highlighted the 'interest of justice and fairness clause'

BC Supreme Court clarifies Civil Resolution Tribunal’s authority over minor injury claims

In a recent ruling, the BC Supreme Court has clarified the jurisdiction and authority of the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) over claims that relates to a minor injury.

The dispute in Hauck v Kiem, 2024 BCSC 388 arose from a motor vehicle accident. The plaintiff sued the defendant, claiming damages for pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of employment income, loss of ability and opportunity to earn income, loss of housekeeping capacity and special damages.

The defendant requested to stay the plaintiff's action pending a determination by the CRT on whether the claim was related to a minor injury. Conversely, the plaintiff sought to dismiss this application, arguing for the continuation of the action within the Supreme Court and challenging the adequacy of the CRT process in addressing liability issues.

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) initially found the plaintiff fully liable for the accident, a determination contested by the plaintiff, especially highlighting the constraints posed by the CRT process in conducting thorough examinations for discovery.

The BC Supreme Court acknowledged that the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act assigned the CRT the jurisdiction to determine if an injury related to a motor vehicle accident is minor. This jurisdiction shifted following the introduction of a no-fault system on May 1, 2021. The court also revisited the constitutional challenge against the CRTA, noting the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia's successful appeal in challenging the CRT’s jurisdiction as an overreach into areas traditionally managed by the Supreme Court.

In deciding the dispute, the court underscored the "interests of justice and fairness" clause, which allows for discretion in whether certain claims should be adjudicated by the CRT, particularly in complex cases or those establishing legal precedents. Despite the plaintiff’s arguments, including the potential complexity of the claim for loss of housekeeping capacity, the court found these did not warrant deviation from CRT adjudication under the given legislative framework.

The court highlighted differences in previous cases and statutory interpretations that restrict the CRT’s jurisdiction, emphasizing the importance of explicit pleadings that relate claims to the CRT’s jurisdiction, especially concerning minor injuries. In this instance, the court found the defendant's pleadings insufficient to mandate a stay of proceedings under the CRTA, thus dismissing the defendant's application but allowing for its renewal with appropriate amendments.

Ultimately, the court dismissed the applications, emphasizing the necessity of clear legislative adherence and the challenges faced in navigating the CRT’s role within the broader judicial system, particularly concerning minor injury determinations in motor vehicle accident claims.

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