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Legislation Update

Administrative Tribunals Statutes Amendment Act, 2015

On December 17, 2015, the Administrative Tribunals Statutes Amendment Act, 2015, S.B.C. 2015, c. 10, was brought into force by regulation. This Act amends the existing Administrative Tribunals Act (the “ATA”), by adding sections allowing the formal “clustering” of administrative tribunals, giving tribunals the authority to compel parties to participate in early dispute resolution methods, and adding reporting requirements, among other things.

In addition to these provisions, the amendments are important to the Commission as they bring the Commission fully under the ATA. Previously, the Commission was subject to the ATA’s predecessor enactment, the Administrative Tribunals Appointment and Administration Act, and was given only a small number of the powers under the ATA. The predecessor enactment (the Administrative Tribunals Appointment and Administration Act) has been repealed by the 2015 amendments.

Bringing the Commission fully under the ATA required a significant number of amendments to the six statutes governing appeals to the Commission: the Forest Act, the Forest and Range Practices Act, the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act (the “Code”), the Private Managed Forest Land Act, the Range Act, and the Wildfire Act. However, with the exception of the time limit for filing an appeal changing from 3 weeks to 30 days1 the amendments do not change the general appeal provisions relating to what may be appealed, who may appeal, the parties to an appeal, its powers to order costs and make a final decision on the appeal, or the statutory right of appeal to court.

The general appeal process and procedures used by the Commission for many years will not change as a result of the amendments. However, the Commission now acquires many of its powers and procedures from the ATA, rather than from the Code and the Administrative Review and Appeal Procedure Regulation. The sections of the Code that governed the Commission were all repealed by the Administrative Tribunals Statutes Amendment Act, 2015, and the Regulation has been amended and pared down significantly.

As a result of the amendments, the Commission has some new powers under the ATA such as:

• the power to create rules of practice and procedure under section 11 of the ATA;
• the power to order a summary dismissal under section 31 of the ATA; and
• the authority to exclude the public from a hearing in certain circumstances, and/or to receive evidence in confidence (sections 41 and 42 of the ATA).

The Commission will be releasing its Rules of Practice and Procedure in the coming weeks, as well as an amended Procedure Manual and new Information Sheets.

Parties to appeals before the Commission are advised to refer to these new legislative provisions during the appeal process.

1. Appeals filed by the Forest Practices Board remain subject to different time limits under the Forest and Range Practices Act.
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