The CRT is intended to be a layperson’s tribunal as the formality of a court case is discouraged
Section 17 (1) of the CRT Act provides for two phases in the CRT hearing. The first is the case management phase. The second is the tribunal hearing.
In the case management phase, the CRT hopes to reach a resolution by agreement by facilitating the process through a case manager. If the case management phase does not result in a resolution, the case manager will provide directions to the parties regarding the tribunal hearing such as timelines for disclosure, limits on evidence, etc.
In the tribunal hearing phase, the dispute is heard by an adjudicator and then a final decision is rendered.
The CRT is intended to be a layperson’s tribunal as the formality of a court case is discouraged at the CRT. Indeed, the CRT Act states that the “proceeding is to be conducted with as little formality and technicality and with as much speed as permitted by the requirements of this Act, the rules and a proper consideration of the issues in the dispute.”
In-person hearings, while discretionary, may be reserved for “extraordinary circumstances”. The hearing may be conducted in writing, by telephone, videoconferencing or email, or through other electronic means, or a combination of the above. Not all means of communication necessarily take place at the same time.
The tribunal may impose restrictions on a person’s participation in or attendance at the hearing and may exclude a person from the hearing until the tribunal orders otherwise.
A claimant and/or ICBC are permitted to have legal representation throughout the CRT process. It is likely, however, that many claimants will be on his/her own as the size of the claim will not make it difficult to retain a lawyer.
It remains to be seen how the CRT hearings will be conducted but currently, the CRT tends to make its rulings based on written submission of evidence and written argument.