B.C. Attorney General David Eby talks during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, May 9, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

B.C. Attorney General David Eby talks during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, May 9, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

B.C. applying for stay in court after court rules ICBC tribunal partly unconstitutional

Attorney-General David Eby stands by the government’s plan, which aims to divert minor claims to the tribunal

British Columbia’s Attorney General says the province is applying for a partial stay in a B.C. Supreme Court ruling about jurisdiction over motor vehicle injury disputes, pending its appeal of the same decision.

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson’s judgment set back the province’s plan to divert certain injury claims away from litigation in court in a move officials said would save money for auto insurance ratepayers and the Insurance Corporation of B.C.

Hinkson found parts of the amended Civil Resolution Tribunal Act were unconstitutional and declared them no longer in effect, meaning the tribunal can neither decide whether an injury is minor, nor settle claims up to $50,000.

Attorney General David Eby says when B.C. gave the tribunal jurisdiction over such matters in April 2019, the aim was to allow injured people to use the tribunal to resolve “lower-value disputes in a timely and fair manner.”

The Trial Lawyers Association of B.C. sued the province over the changes, arguing they denied injured people their constitutional right to go to court.

Eby says the province is seeking to allow the tribunal to resolve existing disputes that occurred after April 1, 2019 and were moving through the tribunal’s process at the time of Hinkson’s March 2 judgment.

He says those claims have been on hold and the partial stay, if granted, would also allow new claimants to opt for the tribunal rather than court.

The ruling does not affect the tribunal’s upcoming jurisdiction over enhanced care benefits, reductions in ICBC rates effective May 1, or rebates being sent to ratepayers after cost savings from fewer crashes during the COVID-19 pandemic, Eby added in a statement on Thursday.

The Civil Resolution Tribunal can still decide whether a person is entitled to accident benefits under the Insurance (Vehicle) Act, as well as claims in motor vehicle accident disputes for damages up to $5,000.

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