Changes to the Small Claims Act

General Litigation

Effective June 1, 2017, significant changes have been made to the laws governing Small Claims cases in British Columbia.  Any claims involving amounts up to $5000, if the case involves: debt or damages, recovery of personal property or opposing claims to personal property, must now be taken to the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT).  Additional details and specifics are available in the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act. Claims between $5,001 and $35,000 will go to Small Claims Court and claims $35,001 and above will go to the Supreme Court of British Columbia, subject to certain exceptions.

The dispute resolution process of the CRT will provide a three-stage process, which is briefly summarized as follows:

  1. Negotiation – you will initially communicate online with the other party to see if you can quickly settle the dispute between yourselves.
  2. Facilitation – if negotiation is not successful, CRT staff will assist and attempt to facilitate a settlement.
  3. Adjudication – if the parties cannot resolve the dispute, a Tribunal member may make a decision regarding the dispute.  The decision of the Tribunal member can then be enforced like a court order in the Provincial Court (subject to the filing of a notice of objection).

Civil claims for amounts between $5001 and $35,000 are heard by the Provincial Court, pursuant to the Small Claims Act and the Small Claims Rules. The change of most significance is an increase in the monetary jurisdiction of the Provincial Court from $25,000 to $35,000.

Although there has been a significant increase in the monetary jurisdiction of the Provincial Court, there has not been a change to types of claims over which the Provincial Court has the power to grant remedies.  As such, the Provincial Court does not have jurisdiction over cases involving:

  • an interest in land
  • personal property security
  • bankruptcies
  • trademarks
  • wills and estates
  • libel and slander
  • malicious prosecution
  • residential tenancy (though Residential Tenancy Branch orders may be enforced in Provincial Court)
  • almost all builders’ lien matters, and
  • lawsuits against the federal government

When considering whether to commence a legal action, or responding to a legal action that has been commenced against you, you should seek timely legal advice regarding your rights and options.

Contact a LK Law lawyer for a consultation regarding your litigation matter.

Dispute Resolution
Lindsay Kenney LLP – Vancouver Office