A strata sought a judicial stay of proceeding following a Civil Resolution Tribunal (“CRT”) decision to deny the strata’s request to be represented by counsel, and subsequent decision to deny the strata’s request for a stay of proceedings pending its application for judicial review regarding the decision to deny the strata’s request for counsel

Administrative law – Decisions reviewed – Civil Resolution Tribunal – Right to legal counsel – Judicial review – Stay of proceedings – Remedies – Interlocutory injunctions – Condominiums – Strata corporations

Strata Plan NW 2575 v. Booth, [2018] BCJ No 811, 2018 BCSC 715, British Columbia Supreme Court, May 3, 2018, DeWitt-Van Oosten J.

A dispute was filed with the CRT by owners against a strata corporation. The owners alleged that the strata failed to repair and maintain a deck that constituted limited common property, and that they were threatened and harassed by other owners.

The strata filed a response in the CRT dispute, denying all allegations. The strata also requested to be represented by legal counsel. The CRT denied the request, placing significant weight on the fact that the owners did not agree to representation because it would tip the scales of justice against them; the owners were not represented and could not afford legal counsel; and there was nothing exceptionally unusual or complex about the subject matter of the dispute. The strata sought judicial review of this decision.

In the interim, the strata requested that the proceedings before the CRT be stayed pending the review. This request was denied by the CRT. Though the CRT accepted that there was a serious issue to be determined with respect to the tribunal’s discretionary decision to decline to permit the strata to have a representative in the dispute, the CRT held that on balance the public interest required the CRT to discharge its legislative mandate to provide dispute resolution services in a manner that is “accessible, speedy, economical, informal and flexible”. The strata also sought judicial review of the CRT’s decision to not grant a stay of proceedings.

The strata appeared before the B.C. Supreme Court to request a judicial stay of the CRT proceedings pending a determination on the judicial review, and to request that the two judicial reviews be heard together. Both requests were unopposed.

The Court observed that the Civil Resolution Tribunals Act, SBC 2012 c. 25, is silent with respect to challenging interlocutory rulings. Accordingly, relief under section 10 of the Judicial Review Procedure Act, RSBC 1996 c. 241 (“JRPA”) is available to the strata if they can show that (1) it has raised a serious issue for adjudication; (2) it will suffer irreparable harm if a stay is not granted; and (3) the balance of convenience favours a stay of proceedings. In applying this test, the Court observed that the two petitions arise out of the same administrative process and are inextricably linked, that there were allegations regarding abuse that could lead to irreparable harm to the reputation of the strata’s members, and that hearing the petitions together simply made sense in the context. The CRT proceedings were accordingly stayed pursuant to s. 10 of the JRPA pending the outcome of the strata’s petition.

This case was digested by JoAnne G. Barnum, and first published in the LexisNexis® Harper Grey Administrative Law Netletter and the Harper Grey Administrative Law Newsletter. If you would like to discuss this case further, please contact JoAnne G. Barnum at jbarnum@harpergrey.com.

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