The Civil Resolution Tribunal: Civil A2J and Mission Creep in an Era of Inequality and Institutional Mistrust

The British Columbia (BC) Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) is the first online tribunal in Canada. It promises to “bring the justice system to the public” in an era where access to justice (A2J) is a major challenge. Its beginnings were humble: from 2016-2019, the CRT decided condo, non-profit and small claims disputes <$5,000.
At the same time, something else was in motion. In 2019, after reports that BC’s public motor vehicle insurance corporation was in financial crisis, sweeping changing were announced, including expansion of CRT jurisdiction over MVA claims. Opposition included a constitutional challenge that argued the changes “limits [A2J]..by creating undue hardship for claimants.”
What are the implications of swift expansion and political embattlement for the legitimacy of the CRT, a young institution designed to increase A2J for straightforward claims? Is “mission creep” an inevitable aspect of modern institutions and do the changes undermine the CRT’s broader A2J promises?