VICTORIA - Following a competitive hiring process, 18 tribunal members have been selected to decide strata property and small claims cases at B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT), Canada’s first online tribunal.Once the CRT commences operations, these tribunal members will hear strata and small claims cases and reach binding decisions, enforceable as a court order. Their responsibilities will be similar to members of other independent, quasi-judicial bodies such as the Human Rights Tribunal. They are appointed for fixed terms of between two to four years, and may be reappointed up to five additional years.
These appointments are being made now to ensure that a strong contingent of well-trained tribunal members are ready to adjudicate claims when the CRT opens at the end of this year. Until then, members will receive training on administrative law, adjudication skills, the tribunal’s policies and processes, and other related topics.
This completes the first round of tribunal member appointments, with additional appointments anticipated later this year. A transparent, merit-based process was used for the recruitment and selection of the CRT members who were appointed by Cabinet, through Order-in-Council.
Available 24/7, the user-friendly CRT will be Canada’s first online tribunal and will give British Columbians the tools they need to resolve their strata and small claims disputes in a timely and affordable manner.
Shannon Salter, chair, Civil Resolution Tribunal -
“The CRT members are highly qualified legal professionals, with expertise in administrative law, as well as in one or more of the areas of law under the tribunal’s jurisdiction, including strata property, contract, debt, personal property, and personal injury matters. With the appointment of these tribunal members, we are one step closer to increasing access to justice for British Columbians with strata and small claims disputes.”
Suzanne Anton, Attorney General and Minister of Justice -
“We received over 90 applications for these positions and are encouraged by the level of interest from the legal community to be a part of this innovative online tribunal. The CRT is an important part of the B.C. government’s plan to transform and modernize our justice system to provide people with access to justice when and where they need it.”
A backgrounder follows.
Chair, Civil Resolution Tribunal
Civil Resolution Tribunal members
Maureen C. Abraham is a lawyer with Johns Southward Glazier Walton & Margetts where she practises litigation, primarily in strata property, employment law and dispute resolution. Ms. Abraham regularly appears before courts and administrative tribunals on behalf of her clients. In her community, Ms. Abraham has served on the board of the Women Rainmakers Canadian Bar Association subsection, as a director of the Craigdarroch Castle Historical Museum Society, and as a volunteer with Access Pro Bono. She was called to the bar in B.C. in 2008 and holds her bachelor of laws from the University of British Columbia (UBC).
Maureen Baird, Q.C. is a litigation lawyer practising primarily in the field of administrative law. She advises professional regulatory bodies on governance, discipline and credential matters and bylaw amendment and is frequently asked to provide training to tribunal members. Ms. Baird was called to the B.C. bar in 1984 after a clerkship with the Chief Justice of B.C. Active in her community, she serves as a legal member and chair of panels of the Mental Health Review Board and is a legal member of the Discipline Committee of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. Previously, Ms. Baird served as chair of the Administrative Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association (both nationally and the B.C. branch). She holds a bachelor of commerce and a law degree from the University of Toronto and recently obtained her certificate in mediation at the Harvard Law School. Ms. Baird is co-author of a chapter of the "Administrative Law Manual" and a frequent speaker at continuing legal education programs.
Wendy A. Baker, Q.C. has been a partner with Miller Thomson LLP since 2001. She has extensive commercial litigation experience spanning many industries and areas of practice including complex commercial disputes, strata law, agriculture, construction law, Aboriginal law, and administrative law. Active in her community, she serves as chair of the Karen Jamieson Dance Society and is the vice-chair of the Motor Dealer Customer Compensation Fund Board. Ms. Baker also sits as acting registrar for the Motor Vehicle Sales Authority. Ms. Baker holds her bachelor of laws from the University of Victoria and a bachelor of arts in English (honours) from the UBC. Wendy Baker was appointed Queen's counsel in 2009.
Kathryn A. Berge, Q.C. is experienced as an advocate, lawyer and mediator in wills and estates, family law and general civil litigation. She is an associate counsel with the Victoria firm Cook Roberts LLP, and also sits as an alternate chair of the B.C. Review Board. She is a qualified arbitrator and Mediate BC civil roster member. She served as a bencher (governor) of the Law Society of B.C. from 2006 to 2013, and is a life bencher of the organization. She has chaired Canadian Bar Association sections in wills, estates and fiduciary relations and alternative dispute resolution, as well as the National Committee on Ethics and Professional Issues. Ms. Berge has been a continuing legal education and professional legal training course instructor over many years, and a guest lecturer on legal issues and mediation at the University of Victoria and other institutions. She was awarded the Victoria Bar Association's Pamela Murray Award (2014), the Canadian Bar Association Woman Lawyer Award of Excellence (2009) and the Canadian Bar Association President's Silver Medal (1994). Her community service has included participation on the board of Beacon Hill Little League and volunteer activities for schools and community groups. Ms. Berge received her bachelor of arts and her bachelor of laws degrees from the University of Alberta, and the designation of Queen's counsel in 1996.
Jamie Bleay is a lawyer with the Access Law Group. Since being called to the bar in 1987, he has practiced extensively in the area of condominium and strata law. In his community, Mr. Bleay serves as director and past president and chair of the Canadian Condominium Institute (CCI) nationally and as director and president of CCI Vancouver. Previously, he served as president of the North Shore Marlins swim club. Mr. Bleay holds his bachelor of laws from UBC and a bachelor of arts from the University of Victoria.
Colleen Cattell, Q.C. is a mediator and arbitrator with Fitzpatrick & Company where she handles construction and business disputes, personal injury and insurance claims, among others. She is also a negotiation consultant with ENS International. Previously, Ms. Cattell was a project manager with a B.C. small claims court pilot project, adjunct professor with the UBC faculty of law and lawyer, mediator and arbitrator with McKechnie & Company. Active in her community, she serves as a member of the West Vancouver Community Foundation board of directors and has served as board member and president of the B.C. Dispute Resolution Practicum Society (now Mediate BC) and executive member and education committee co-chair, Women Lawyers Forum for the Canadian Bar Association B.C. Ms. Cattell holds her bachelor of laws and a bachelor of arts (honours) from the University of Victoria.
Bonnie S. Elster was a lawyer at Clark Wilson LLP for over 14 years, where she practised in the strata property practice group and business law department. In her community, Ms. Elster has served on numerous boards, including the Jewish Historical Society of B.C. and the West Point Grey Community Centre. Ms. Elster holds a bachelor of laws from the UBC, a master of arts from the University of Toronto, a bachelor of arts (honours) from York University, has studied fundamentals of advanced mediation at the Continuing Legal Education Society of B.C. and has completed various courses in conflict resolution through the B.C. Justice Institute Centre for Conflict Resolution.
Andrew Gay is a partner with Gudmundseth Mickelson LLP, where he has practiced for over 17 years in many areas including commercial litigation and business disputes, regulatory and licensing disputes, property disputes, fraud cases, employment law, professional negligence, constitutional litigation, personal injury, and insurance coverage disputes. Mr. Gay is an active member of his community; serving as soccer coach and assistant coach for a number of teams under the Vancouver United Football Club since 2005. He has also served as an adjunct professor, moot court judge, and student mentor for the UBC law school. Mr. Gay holds his bachelor of laws from Osgoode Hall law school, master of environmental studies from York University and his bachelor of arts in geography from UBC.
Julie K. Gibson is a barrister and solicitor and has been practising law with Harper Grey LLP since 2003. She practices in the areas of administrative law and civil litigation. Active in her community, Ms. Gibson has served as lawyer coordinator for the Britannia Clinic of the Law Students' Legal Advice Program (UBC), past treasurer for the B.C. Dispute Resolution Practicum Society Board, and as a member of the UBC Student Legal Fund Society's litigation committee. She holds her master of laws (administrative law) from York University, juris doctor from the UBC, and an honours bachelor of science (human biology and English literature double major) from the University of Toronto.
Angus M. Gunn, Q.C. is a litigation partner at the Vancouver office of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP. He practices in the area of commercial dispute resolution, with an emphasis on civil appeals and commercial arbitration and mediation. Mr. Gunn has acted as litigation counsel in various commercial and public law disputes, including hearings before all levels of court in B.C., the Federal Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court of Canada. Mr. Gunn has also served as an arbitrator and as arbitration counsel in various disputes. Active in his community, Mr. Gunn currently serves as president and chair of the Access Pro Bono Society of B.C., and has served as director of the Young Canadian Arbitration Practitioners and the Alternate Dispute Resolution Institute of Canada Inc. Mr. Gunn has also served as an adjunct professor at the UBC faculty of law, where, on three occasions, students selected him to receive the Adam S. Albright Award for Outstanding Teaching by an Adjunct Professor. After a judicial clerkship with the Court of Appeal for B.C., Mr. Gunn was admitted to the B.C. bar in 1995. He holds a master of laws from the University of Cambridge, a bachelor of laws from the University of Toronto and a bachelor of arts from the UBC.
Richard Hoops Harrison is a partner with Alexander, Holburn, Beaudin and Lang LLP where he specializes in civil litigation, with a focus on corporate restructuring and insolvency related matters, employment law and operational matters specific to financial institutions. He has appeared before all levels of court in B.C. and Alberta as well as the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (commercial list). Mr. Harrison serves as a member of the Patient Care Quality Review Boards for the Fraser Health Authority, Provincial Health Services, and Vancouver Coastal Health Authority. Mr. Harrison is also as a contributing reviewer for the Law Society of B.C.'s practice checklists manuals. He is a member of the Canadian Bar Association
Insolvency subsection and the Vancouver Insolvency Discussion Group. He holds a juris doctorate from the University of Calgary (Dean's list) and a bachelor of arts from the University of Alberta. In his community, Hoops takes an active interest in Islands Trust B.C. matters.
Kamaljit K. Lehal is a lawyer practising in administrative law, immigration, personal injury, and mediation matters. Ms. Lehal received her law degree from the UBC in 1989, and she completed mediation training from Harvard Law School. Ms. Lehal was a member of the B.C. Review Board from 1998 to 2010. Active in her community, Ms. Lehal serves on the board of directors of Options Community Services Society since 1996, a non-profit organization that that supports families and community health. She is also involved in the Community Coordination for Women's Safety and has acted as supervising lawyer for the Ending Violence Association of B.C. on a Law Foundation project addressing domestic violence and immigrant women. She is also a member of the Network to End Violence in Relationships. She is a past member of the Indo-Canadian Women's Organization.
Michael Litchfield is a management consultant and lawyer, and is the managing director of Thinklab Consulting. His legal expertise is focused in the areas of corporate, commercial and property law. He is the director of the business law clinic at the University of Victoria law school. Mr. Litchfield also serves as a tribunal member with the Property Assessment Appeal Board. He is active in the community and has served on the board of directors for the Habitat for Humanity Society of Greater Vancouver and the Red Door Housing Society, and as the chair of the Okanagan Commercial and Real Estate Section of the Canadian Bar Association. Mr. Litchfield holds a bachelor of arts and a juris doctor from the UBC and has recently completed a master of laws at the University of Victoria.
Barry Long is a lawyer with extensive experience in personal injury, criminal law, and general civil litigation matters. Mr. Long also has extensive adjudicative experience, having served as an alternate chair of the B.C. Review Board since 1999. He has previously been a member of the Mental Health Review Board, and the Commercial Appeals Commission. Mr. Long serves on the board of the College of Naturopathic Physicians of B.C. and is chair of the discipline committee. He has also served as an instructor for the B.C. Council of Administrative Tribunals' foundations of administrative justice course, and a guest lecturer with the professional legal training course. Mr. Long has a bachelor of science in climatology from McGill University and a bachelor of laws from the University of Victoria.
Elaine T. McCormack is associate counsel with Alexander Holburn Beaudin and Lang LLP where she is a member of the firm's strata property, real estate, and corporate and commercial practices. Her primary area of practice is in assisting strata corporations, individual owners and management companies in the governance and dispute resolution processes of strata life. In her community, Ms. McCormack has volunteered for the Dynamo Swim Club and has served as director and secretary of the B.C. Arbitration and Mediation Institute. She was admitted to the B.C. bar in 1993 and holds her chartered arbitrator designation from the Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Canada, Inc., bachelor of laws from the UBC, and a bachelor of arts in English (minor in law and the liberal arts) from the University of Calgary.
Andrew Pendray is a vice chair of the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal. Previously, he was Crown counsel for the B.C. Ministry of Justice and Attorney General, regional manager and workers' adviser for the B.C. Ministry of Labour, Workers' Advisers Office and an associate with Murphy Battista LLP, where he practised in personal injury and general litigation matters. Active in his community, Mr. Pendray has volunteered as a minor hockey coach for the Pacific Coast Minor Hockey Association. He holds his bachelor of laws from the UBC and a bachelor of arts from the University of Victoria.
Patrick A. Williams is a partner with Clark Wilson LLP, where he has practised since 1983 with the firm's strata property and alternative dispute resolution practice groups. Currently, he serves as president of the B.C. International Commercial Arbitration Centre. Mr. Williams received his dispute resolution training through the Continuing Legal Education Society of B.C. and the B.C. Arbitration and Mediation Institute. Mr. Williams is the author of many articles regarding strata property matters. He is also a regular presenter at strata property industry events, and a guest instructor for the mediation component of the professional legal training course. He holds his bachelors of commerce and bachelor of laws from the UBC, and was called to the bar in 1975.
Cora D. Wilson is a lawyer with C.D. Wilson Law Corporation which she established in 2000. Ms. Wilson has practised in strata property law for over 20 years, and has also served as an arbitrator for strata property disputes. She is the author of a number of books and other publications on strata property matters. An active member in her community, Ms. Wilson serves as a guest lecturer on strata issues for the Condominium Homeowners' Association of B.C. and others. Previously, she served as a member of the Celebrity Lights Foundation. Ms. Wilson holds her juris doctor from the University of Windsor and a bachelor of arts (high honours) from Carleton University. She also holds a certificate from the Architectural Institute of B.C., having taken the required courses in building envelope construction.
Chair, Civil Resolution Tribunal