B.C.'s Ministry of Attorney General announced today (April 16) that disputes arising out of "minor" motor-vehicle injuries can still be heard and resolved through the provincial Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) for amounts of up to $50,000.
The catch? This only applies to accidents that occurred between April 1, 2019, and April 30, 2021, and is available only until the release of a decision pending from the B.C. Court of Appeal.
The B.C. Supreme Court ruled on March 2 this year—in a trial that, essentially, pitted the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C. against the provincial attorney general—that the CRT's ability to make determinations in minor-injury disputes of up to $50,000 was unconstitutional.
The attorney general appealed that B.C. Supreme Court decision to the B.C. Court of Appeal, which ordered on April 8 a partial stay on the original ruling until it could decide on the attorney general's appeal.
This means that if people are or have been involved in an accident between those dates—and if the dispute is about whether or not an injury is actually "minor" for the purposes of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act (IVA) and if it involves a claim of up to $50,000 for personal injury or property damage—they can decide whether to bring the dispute to the CRT or to file a claim in court.
This will remain in effect until the Court of Appeal's decision in the attorney general's appeal.
The CRT came into being, partially, in the summer of 2016, when it heard and decided strata-property wrangles. About a year later, the province gave the CRT the power to rule on small-claims disputes up to $5,000.
Then, effective April 1, 2019, the CRT received the authority to adjudicate on motor-vehicle accident claims for liability and personal-injury damages of up to $50,000. The CRT was also empowered to decide on whether or not an injury should be classified as "minor" and to rule on entitlement to no-fault accident benefits payable under the IVA.
The Trial Lawyers Association of B.C. (TLABC) filed a notice of civil claim as soon as the CRT's new powers came into force. It challenged the constitutional validity of the changes to the CRT Act, the IVA, and various regulations, arguing, partly, that some victims of motor-vehicle accidents would be denied their constitutional right to have their day in court.
On March 2, the B.C. Supreme Court decision gave the TLABC its day in court, declaring it (and its plaintiffs) the winner in its case.
Now the attorney general, the TLABC, and potential litigants or parties to disputes await the decision by the Court of Appeal.
For more information on the CRT changes, go here.