On July 15, 2019, sections of Bill 22, Civil Resolution Tribunal Amendment Act, British Columbia, 2018, c.17 came into force and amended the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act, SBC 2012, c.25 (the “CRTA“) and the Societies Act, SBC 2015, c.18 (the “Societies Act“). The amendments provide the Civil Resolution Tribunal (the “CRT“) with jurisdiction to resolve disputes over certain claims under the Societies Act.
Societies should be aware of these amendments because members may apply to the CRT in order to challenge a society’s interpretation or application of the Societies Act as well as certain actions, threatened actions or decisions of a society. Also, citizens may apply to the CRT in order to challenge a society’s decision or interpretation of provisions respecting access to records or financial statements.
1.0 Societies and Members of Societies
The effect of the new amendments to the CRTA and the Societies Act is to provide a dispute resolution system to societies and members of societies for certain disputes arising under the Societies Act. Societies or members of societies may request that the CRT consider and resolve a claim under the Societies Act. The claims by societies and members of societies that are within the jurisdiction of the CRT are as follows:
- the interpretation or application of the Societies Act or a regulation, constitution or bylaw under that Act, including a request to inspect, or to receive a copy of, a record of a society;
- an action or threatened action by a society or its directors in relation to a member; and
- a decision of a society or its directors in relation to a member.
This general list of claims within the jurisdiction of the CRT is limited by exclusions enumerated in section 130 of the CRTA. There are several exclusions under section 130 of the CRTA.
These exclusions include, but are not limited to the following matters:
- a matter relating to the termination of membership in the society;
- a matter relating to the liquidation, dissolution or restoration of a society, except matters relating to the duties of a liquidator;
- corporate reorganizations; and
Other limits to the jurisdiction of the CRT are those that may be dealt with by the Supreme Court under certain provisions of the Societies Act. This includes claims relating to management, powers of a court respecting general meetings, remedies and special societies under Parts 5, 8 and 12 and section 80 of the Societies Act.
2.0 Claims by Others
Sections 24, 27 and 28 of the Societies Act permit people other than members and directors of a society to inspect records, receive copies of documents and to inspect financial statements and copies of the same.
People other than societies and members of societies, including citizens, may ask that the CRT hear a dispute related to inspection of records and financial statements or receiving copies of the same under sections 24, 27 and 28 of the Societies Act. A person who requests that the CRT hear a dispute in relation to sections 24, 27 or 28, may do so whether or not they have applied to the Registrar for an order under section 107 of the Societies Act.
3.0 Orders which can be made by the CRT
The orders that the CRT may make when resolving a claim under the Societies Act are as follows:
- an order requiring a party to do something, including requiring the society to provide access to, or a copy of, a record of the society;
- an order requiring a party to refrain from doing something; and
- an order requiring a party to pay money.
If the claim before the CRT concerns either an action or threatened action by the society or its directors in relation to a member; or a decision of the society or its directors in relation to a member, then the CRT may make an order directed at the society or its directors, if the order is necessary to prevent or remedy an unfairly prejudicial action or decision.
The CRT cannot make an order requiring the sale or disposition of real property or an order in a class of orders prescribed by regulation.
These new amendments and newly created jurisdiction of the CRT with respect to societies should be kept in mind by societies and by other organizations in their dealings with societies.