The Chief Justice of the BC Supreme Court released a 108-page decision today that strikes down portions of the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act as unconstitutional.
The decision means that for motor vehicle accidents (ICBC Claims) that happened on or after April 1, 2019, the Civil Resolution Tribunal (“CRT”) can no longer:
- determine if an injury is a “minor injury” for the purposes of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act; or
- hear claims for liability and personal injury and property damage of up to $50,000.
The CRT can still decide:
- whether a person is entitled to accident benefits under the Insurance (Vehicle) Act; and
- small claims motor vehicle accident disputes for damages up to $5,000.
The provincial government amended the CRT’s jurisdiction effective April 1, 2019 over the determination of:
(a) entitlement to no-fault accident benefits paid or payable under the Insurance (Vehicle) Act; (b) whether an injury is a “minor injury” under the Insurance (Vehicle) Act; and (c) liability and damages for personal injury of $50,000 or less.
The amendments to the Insurance (Vehicle) Act included a new cap on the amount of pain and suffering damages that may be awarded for accidents that occur on or after April 1, 2019 if the injuries are determined to be “minor”.
Today’s decision does not change this cap on pain and suffering for “minor” injuries sustained in accidents on or after April 1, 2019. Nevertheless, it preserves the rights of people injured in car accidents to seek redress from an impartial judge rather than an online tribunal carved out by the provincial government.
The Trial Lawyers Association of BC released a statement about today’s decision in which it said: “This is all about access to justice. If ICBC wrongly tells you that you were at fault for an accident or wrongly tells you that your injuries are minor, you should have access to an independent Court. This unconstitutional law created an online government tribunal into which ICBC intended to force certain accident claims. This ruling ensures your right to access a court if ICBC makes an incorrect decision affecting your rights. It does so by declaring that the government cannot give the power to decide accident claims to its own online tribunal.”