Future Law

British Columbia Courts Offer Online Dispute Resolution

online dispute resolutionThe future is now in British Columbia. This June, the Canadian Province’s Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) announced that it will now offer online dispute resolution to the public.

This is the first tribunal of its kind in Canada.

The CRT was established last year as a small claims court handling actions under $5000 and all strata matters with plans to provide online dispute resolution in the Spring/Summer of 2017. It was formally established under the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act, SBC 2012.

Though online dispute resolution may be a new concept in Canada, the UK and eBay have been using the digital access to justice tool for quite some time now. In fact, according to Ethan Katsh, who spoke at this year’s The Future Is Now Conference, eBay is said to resolve approximately 60 million disputes online each year. That number is expected to rise.

The CRT was created to reduce the delay, complexity, and expenses of the court system. The introduction of online dispute resolution could potentially eliminate the high cost of counsel and increase access to affordable justice. In fact, the CRT was designed to minimize lawyer involvement altogether. Under Section 20 of the Act, the general rule of thumb is that parties represent themselves in disputes, however there are exceptions. SRLs are still permitted to seek legal advice in advance of submitting a matter before the tribunal.

Though, the CRT is the only province to offer online dispute resolution in Canada, more are expected to jump on the bandwagon in the coming years. Ever since several of the provinces began considering alternative business structures and allowing entity-level regulation, online dispute resolution will come naturally.

As our northern neighbor begins to look to the future, will the United States follow suit? Only time will tell if we will become a self-regulated profession.

Do you think justice can be best-served online? Share with us in the comments below.

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