Small Claims Appeals (20:XVI)
A. CRT Small Claims Decisions and Appeals
In small claims disputes, the tribunal will provide the final decision by the date communicated by case manager to the parties, and provide any orders resolving the dispute after the time for filing a Notice of Objection has passed and only if no objection has been made. The tribunal Chair may extend the time allowed for providing a final decision and orders resolving the dispute but will notify the parties of that change. A final decision or order can include an order for a party to pay money, an order requiring a party to do or stop doing something, and any order, terms or conditions the tribunal considers appropriate. The tribunal may make an award of expenses but not for legal costs. The tribunal’s decisions will be binding and may be enforceable as court orders once they are filed with either the BC Provincial Court or BC Supreme Court.
To object to a tribunal small claims decision, including a default decision, a party must within 28 days of receiving a Notice of Final Decision, submit a completed Notice of Objection Form to the tribunal and pay the required fee (s. 56.1 of the CRTA). Once a Notice of Objection Form has been submitted, the tribunal will provide the parties with a copy of the Notice of Objection Form and a Certificate of Completion indicating that the parties have completed the tribunal’s process. The CRT cannot issue an order in a small claims dispute until the deadline for filing a Notice of Objection expires. The Notice of Objection Form can be found at the following link: https://civilresolutionbc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/FORM-Notice-of-Objection-June-6-2017.pdf.
If a Notice of Objection is filed, the CRT decision is not enforceable. If any party wants to continue any of the claims that were included in the dispute, that party must file a Notice of CRT Claim in the BC Provincial Court. Once filed, the filing party must serve the Notice of CRT Claim on the other parties. The CRT will provide a Certificate of Completion to all the parties. The Certificate of Completion must be included with the Notice of CRT Claim, or the Provincial Court registry will not accept it. If the Notice of Claim is accepted, a new process with the BC Provincial Court will proceed, including a settlement conference or pre-trial conference and a trial
If the civil resolution tribunal has adjudicated a claim, or made an order for payment of case management expenses, and a person has filed a notice of objection, the Provincial Court may order a party to pay a deposit for some or all of the amount of the CRT decision (s. 56.2 of the CRTA). If the person who filed the Notice of Objection does not have a better outcome in the BC Provincial Court than in the CRT’s decision, the BC Provincial Court may order that party to pay a penalty to the other party.
It should be noted that appeals of tribunal strata property decisions go through the BC Supreme Court and thus procedure for these matters differs. See s. 56.5 of the CRTA for more information.
B. Appealing from Small Claims Court
Any party to a proceeding may appeal to the Supreme Court an order to allow or dismiss a claim if the judge made the order after a trial (SCA, s 5). An appeal must be started within 40 days, beginning on the day after the order of the Provincial Court is made (SCA, s 6). A review of the order under appeal may be on questions of fact or law (SCA, s 12(a)). A mistake of fact could involve a misunderstanding by the Judge of evidence given by a witness. For example, if a witness reported that a particular event happened and in the decision the Judge bases his/her decision on the fact that event didn’t happen, there could be a basis for an appeal. A mistake of law occurs where the Judge makes an error in deciding which law should apply. Not every error made by a Small Claims Court judge will be the basis for a successful appeal. The test which the Supreme Court Judge must apply is called the “clearly wrong test”. If the Small Claims Court judge’s decision about the facts or the law is not clearly wrong, the appeal will fail. An appeal is usually not a new trial; it will be based on the transcripts of the trial in Small Claims Court. The Supreme Court may, however, exercise its discretion to hear the appeal as a new trial (SCA, s 12(b)). No new evidence may be adduced at the appeal without leave of the court. (See Practice Direction: Standard Directions for Appeals from Provincial Court - Small Claims Act SCA, s 10).
For claims that do not fit the criteria for an appeal, the Judicial Review Procedure Act, RSBC 1996, c 241, allows the Supreme Court of British Columbia to review decisions made by Provincial Court judges prior to trial. This includes interlocutory orders, the dismissal of a claim at a settlement conference, and adjudicator decisions in Simplified Trials under Rule 9.1. The appropriate standard of review for orders subject to judicial review is reasonableness. (See "0763486 BCLtd. v Landmark Realty Corp, 2009 BCSC 810 (CanLII); Wood and Lauder v Siwak, 2000 BCSC 397 (CanLII); Der v Giles,  BCJ No 938; and Nicholson v Lum,  BCJ No 860). For further information on judicial review, see Chapter 5: Public Complaints.
If an order dismissing a claim is appealed to the Supreme Court, that appeal does not automatically appeal the counterclaim to the Supreme Court, nor vice versa. Each appeal is a separate matter and needs to be filed separately in the Supreme Court. Both appeals will, of course, be heard together. (See Shaughnessy v Roth, 2006 BCSC 531 (CanLII)).
1. Filing an Appeal
You must act quickly if you wish to appeal a decision as there are many steps involved and only a short a period of time. Within 40 days of the order being made (SCA, s 6), an appellant must, in one day, do all of the following:
- file a Notice of Appeal in the Supreme Court registry closest to the Provincial Court where the order being appealed was made (SCA, s 7);
- deposit with the Supreme Court $200.00 as security for costs plus the amount of money required to be paid by the order under appeal (SCA, s 8(1) and (2)) or apply to the Supreme Court to reduce the amount required to be paid (SCA, s 8(3));
- apply to the registrar of the Supreme Court for a date for hearing the appeal that is at least 21 days, but not more than 6 months, after the filing date (SCA, s 10);
- file a copy of the Notice of Appeal in the Provincial Court registry where the order under appeal was made (SCA, s 7(b)).
An application to reduce the amount required to be deposited does not need to be served on any person; however, if the court reduces the amount required to be deposited, the appellant must serve notice of this order on the other parties to the appeal (SCA, s 8(6)).
The cost to file a Notice of Appeal in Supreme Court is $200.00 and the cost for filing an application to reduce the amount of the deposit is $80.00. An appellant who cannot afford these fees can apply to the Supreme Court registrar for indigent status.
A copy of both the Notice of Appeal and the Notice of Hearing must be served on every party affected by the appeal (SCA, s 11(1)). Fourteen days after filing the Notice of Appeal, the appellant must provide the Registrar with proof that the Notice of Appeal and the Notice of Hearing have been served on the respondents.
The Appellant must also order transcripts of the oral evidence given at the Small Claims Court trial and the Judge's reasons for judgment. The Appellant must pay for a copy of the transcript for the Court and one for each party to the appeal. Transcripts cost several dollars per page. So, depending on how long the trial lasted, the transcript could be many, many pages and cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
For a detailed checklist of the steps you must take to make an appeal, please see Appendix L.
2. The Decision of the Supreme Court
On hearing an appeal, the Supreme Court may make any order that could be made by the Provincial Court, impose reasonable terms and conditions on an order, make any additional order it considers just, and award costs to any party under the Supreme Court Civil Rules. (See BC Reg 168/2009 and amendments thereto).
There is no further appeal from a Supreme Court order (SCA, s 7).
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