The B.C. government isn't giving up in its fight to continue referring minor auto-injury claims to a quasi-judicial tribunal.
Late this afternoon, Attorney General David Eby announced that the province is appealing a recent court ruling striking down one of his major ICBC reforms.
Nearly a month ago, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Christopher Hinkson declared that it was unconstitutional for the government to refer accident claims worth less than $50,000 to the Civil Resolution Tribunal.
In today's statement, Eby said that the province will apply for a partial stay on the court order as it appeals Hinkson's decision in the B.C. Court of Appeal.
"This application seeks to allow the CRT to resolve existing motor vehicle injury disputes that happened on or after April 1, 2019, and were in the CRT’s process at the time of the judgment," Eby explained. "These claims are presently on hold following the Supreme Court’s March 2, 2021, decision. The partial stay, if granted, would also allow new claimants to file in the CRT if they choose to do so, although they will also have the option to file in court."
On March 2, Hinkson ruled that section 96 of the Constitution Act, 1867, prevents provinces from "impermissibly conferring judicial decision-making power on new administrative bodies".
Eby was the minister responsible for ICBC when the change was introduced. After the 2020 election, responsibility for ICBC was transferred to Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.
Eby stated that the Civil Resolution Tribunal rules were amended to allow people involved in vehicle crashes "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," Eby added. “The decision does not affect the CRT’s upcoming jurisdiction over enhanced care benefits and will not impact the COVID-19 rebates or reductions in rates effective May 1, 2021."
The Trial Lawyers' Association of B.C. cheered Hinkson's decision, saying last month that it "raises serious legal questions" about the future of no-fault measures being advanced by ICBC.
"If ICBC wrongly tells you that you were at fault for an accident or wrongly tells you that your injuries are minor, you should have access to an independent court," TLABC president Kevin Gourlay said.