Small claims cases in B.C. to be resolved online

Starting June 1, any civil small claim dispute in B.C. under $5,000 will be adjudicated in an online tribunal.

The Civil Resolution Tribunal already allows condo owners to resolve strata disputes online. More than 280 people have used the service since it was implemented last July.

Now, the tribunal will also preside over claims involving contracts, debts, personal injury, personal property and consumer issues under $5,000.

Telephone and mail services will be available for anyone without Internet access.

According to B.C.'s Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton, it's the first online tribunal in the world to be integrated into the public justice system.

"The world is watching because everyone is really interested in what we're doing," she said. "We're a leader in justice innovation."

The ministry said diverting lower-limit monetary claims to the mandatory online service will free capacity within B.C.'s overloaded justice system.

Claims will be resolved faster with less complexity and expense, it added.

"It's extremely helpful access to justice for British Columbians," Anton said.

"You don't have to go down to court ... You can think about your claim after work. You can work at it at your convenience."

In addition to the online system, the Ministry said it will increase the monetary jurisdiction of the provincial court's small claims division from $25,000 to $35,000.

With files from The Early Edition

To listen to the interview, click on the link labelled Small claims cases in B.C. to be resolved online