Online Dispute Resolution in British Columbia

Open Law Lab - ODR in Canada

Canada — in particular British Columbia — has been the leading light in using online tools for providing dispute resolution to citizens.  They have found most success in small property & zoning disputes, and also with consumer protection cases.

They have done some empirical research and found that people in family law disputes actually DO want online tools in their disputes. Particular use has been found in divorce settlements, dividing up joint property.

The court there is also considering building a full scale online tribunal.

B.C. plans to create the first-ever tribunal in Canada that offers a full array of online tools to allow British Columbians to solve common strata and small civil claims outside of courts, Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond announced today.

If passed, the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act will create an independent tribunal offering 24/7 online dispute resolution tools to families and small business owners as a speedy and cost-effective alternative to going to court. The tribunal would address disputes by providing parties with information that may prevent disputes from growing and resolve disputes by consent or, where necessary, by an independent tribunal hearing. Resolving a dispute through the tribunal is expected to take about 60 days, compared to 12 to 18 months for small claims court.

Giving families alternatives to seeking solutions in court is among the B.C. government’s justice reform initiatives to achieve efficiencies and deal with growing resource pressures. The February 2012 Green Paper, Modernizing British Columbia’s Justice System, identified tribunals as a simple and less expensive solution to easing delays in the court system.