A person has a validated court order from the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT). The CRT does not have authority to enforce its orders but small claims court does. In the payment hearing the debtor told the judge that he had just filed to dispute the decision made by the CRT. The judge "believed" him and adjourned the hearing to a future date. To me this seems like abuse of of process, the CRT doesn't even issue a validated order until the deadline to dispute is passed. The judge did not seem too concerned about this point, though granted they were probably not familiar with the details of the CRT. Is this allowed to happen, and if not can anything be done?

From the CRT website

You need to give the BC Provincial Court a validated copy of your CRT order. This will be sent to you after the time limit for making a Notice of Objection has expired (approximately 29 days after the date of the CRT decision). If you don’t receive a validated copy of your order after 40 days, please contact us.

The judge ordered the debtor to supply the creditor with a copy of the dispute to the decision, and financial information. What if the debtor does not supply this information, can a debtor be found in contempt of court in small claims?

2 Answers 2


Just to hit the specific point in the question beyond what @DaleM mentioned, judges have very broad discretion to continue hearings and extend deadlines that have not already expired upon the request of a party, except in a very narrow class of cases that provide otherwise.

The standard for doing so in the jurisdictions where I have practiced is "good cause" and I suspect it is similar in B.C.

Allowing a few days to figure out what is going on in the CRT matter and, in general, affording a party an opportunity to make arguments along those lines, while not immediately ruling on the merits, wouldn't be an abuse of discretion which would be the standard by which a decision to continue a hearing would be reviewed on appeal (except that it is really a higher standard to review it, because it is a non-appealable, non-final interlocutory order that could only be immediately reviewed for extraordinary causes).

Hearings get continued all the time, when the requests are made before the hearing is held or during the hearing, at this level of the court system. The reasons can be as mundane as "my car broke down", "my babysitting arrangements fell through", "I'm actively working on getting a lawyer to help me," and "a winter storm interfered with my ability to prepare for the hearing because the power went out at my home/office most of yesterday."

Courts also not infrequently will continue a hearing sua sponte (i.e. without any party requesting it) because some emergency matter has come up on the judge's schedule (e.g. in the counties where I practice, domestic violence restraining orders have priority over almost everything and any available judge can be interrupted in the middle of another hearing for half an hour or so to deal with one), or in the judge's personal life (I once had a hearing where the judge started to collapse on the bench in the middle of a three day trial that had to be continued for five months after he was rushed to the hospital and then recovered.)

Another fairly common reason to continue a hearing, that happens maybe one hearing out of five or six in my world, is that it takes longer than anticipated for some reason for the parties to present their evidence and make arguments and the allocated time for the hearing runs out, due to no real fault of the parties, so additional time is squeezed in a week or two later.

For example, one of the courthouses where I practice frequently is next to a fire station and in the event of a major fire, the commotion as fire trucks rush out to respond to the fire can make it impossible to hear what is going on for as much as fifteen or twenty minutes, which can disrupt the schedule in a short hearing.

In contrast, if you miss a hearing or deadline entirely, your excuses have to be vastly more impressive (e.g. "I was hit by a bus on the way to court and was taken to the hospital.", something that I've had come up in cases I was involved in, although not personally, knock on wood, three or four times).

In general, there are lots of ways to slow down a judicial proceeding, and there are few effective ways to make it go faster or insist that it stays strictly on schedule.


The CRT is a tribunal; its decisions are subject to judicial review

It goes like this.

The CRT is part of the administrative arm of government. The decisions that it makes are, like any other decision of the administration, subject to judicial review by the courts.

The CRT will have followed a legally mandated process to arrive at its decision on the merits. The judicial review is usually limited to the process, not the merits. That is, the court will establish if the CRT made its decision in the right way, not that it made the right decision - the CRT is allowed to be “wrong” providing they got the wrong answer in the right way.

I’m not familiar with the CRT process but no doubt it involves serving people with information and allowing them to make their case etc. A court will review that this was all done correctly - this is known as “procedural fairness” or “natural justice”. The court will also be concerned with if the CRT has jurisdiction - for example, the CRT does not have jurisdiction over maritime issues, if they nevertheless dealt with such a claim the decision would be void.

For example, if a response was required to be lodged by 5pm on the 15th, and the respondent had evidence that they did this but the paperwork got lost (it happens) and wasn’t considered then the CRT will have made an invalid decision, the court will declare it void and, depending on the underlying legislation, they may refer it back to the CRT, consider the matter themselves or that may be the end of the matter (i.e. you lose).

On the other hand, if the process has been correct and the tribunal has jurisdiction, the court will not re-examine the evidence to see if the decision was “right” apart from a review to determine that there was at least some evidence for the decision reached.


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