World First Online-Only Court Delivers First Judgment

Posted at Legal Practice Intelligence - 14 December 2016

The world's first online-only court has delivered its first judgment. A strata corporation has prevailed over a marijuana smoker. Tobacco and marijuana smoke was disturbing the amenity of the other residents. Although the smoker insisted that the marijuana was for medicinal purposes, the decision appears to have been influenced by the fact that marijuana edibles could be used as an alternative. You can read the judgment here.

In 2015, the Canadian Province of British Columbia (B.C.) launched what was believed to be the world's first online-only Tribunal.

The Civil Resolution Tribunal or CRT is expected to move from voluntary to mandatory at some point in the future. 

Parties are welcome to use a lawyer or a trusted friend or family member to help with negotiation, case management, and most parts of the adjudication phase of the CRT.

People can access dispute resolution services from the comfort of their living room, at a time when it is convenient, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. According to the Tribunal: "The reality is that self-represented litigants are now at the heart of our justice system. The CRT design recognizes that and provides for tools and services that will help support the process of resolving disputes."

There are two software systems being developed to support the CRT and increase access to justice in B.C. The first system, the Solution Explorer, is designed to provide people with the tools they need to assess their options and resolve their disputes themselves. The second system, the Dispute Resolution Suite, will enable the CRT to pursue further early resolution options and adjudications.

The Tribunal has advised:

About 185 parties have made online applications for strata dispute resolution with the CRT. About half of filed disputes are currently in the facilitation phase, where we’ve started to see parties reach agreements, with the help of our expert facilitators.

The CRT is being implemented in stages. This lets us learn from the public and refine our dispute resolution processes as we take on different kinds of disputes. Now we are looking ahead to the CRT’s next stage of development: resolving low-value small claims disputes.

Small claims are very broad, and span many areas of law. They include disputes about consumer goods, employment, personal injury, contracts, debt, personal property, the specific performance of agreements, and many other dispute types as well. Really, the only thing that small claims have in common is their monetary value. In BC, small claims are claims under $25,000.

 

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