Kyla Lee is a criminal lawyer practicing out of Vancouver well versed in issues relating to BC driving law and issues of fairness with administrative hearings. Kyla, in a regular column she pens at VancouverisAwesome, had some scathing observations about the realities of BC’s Civil Rights Tribunal being fed ICBC injury claims and the inherent unfairness that British Columbians will face under this soon to be mandatory scheme.
I urge anyone interested in the subject to read the column in full. The highlights include the following observation:
But the really disturbing part about this that no one has been paying much attention to is how the ability to prescribe by regulation flows together. Not only can regulations enacted by the BC Government increase the amount of the Civil Resolution Tribunal’s jurisdiction but the definition of minor injury can also be amended by regulation.
What this means is that if Government does not like the fact that too many claims are being paid out for a particular type of injury, say, a broken leg, it can call a broken leg a “minor injury” by enacting a quick regulation and suddenly those who have suffered a broken leg are left without a remedy in court. Instead, they are at the mercy of the Civil Resolution Tribunal.
And there are more troubling changes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal legislation that should have the public gravely concerned. The enabling statute has been amended to state explicitly that the tribunal is an expert tribunal in any area where the legislation states they have specialized expertise.
Care to hazard a guess about one area in which a tribunal that has heretofore not dealt with motor vehicle accident claims has specialized expertise? If you guessed motor vehicle accident claims, you are picking up on this disturbing trend.
The specialized expertise designation is of particular importance when considering the ability to appeal decisions of the tribunal. These appeals are known as judicial review.
Under the rules of administrative law, a tribunal with specialized expertise is supposed to be afforded substantial degrees of deference. This means that judges cannot overrule their decisions unless there is a clear error or a clearly unreasonable finding. Moreover, the court is required to defer to the tribunal’s own interpretation of the law in areas where it has specialized expertise. So if the tribunal says that “depression and anxiety” are “psychological conditions” that constitute minor injuries, a court cannot interfere with that finding unless it is unreasonable, even if there are other reasonable interpretations that say otherwise.
Now who is in charge of this ‘specialized tribunal‘? BC’s Attorney General, the same person in charge of ICBC’s so-called ‘dumpster fire‘. It does not take an overly critical lens to see concern when the person in charge of ICBC is also in charge of appointing ‘specialists’ subject to limited judicial oversight to adjudicate British Columbians ICBC disputes.