The Administrative Tribunals Act (the “Act”) received Royal Assent on May 20, 2004. The Act is the second and last major component of legislative reforms that the Government of British Columbia has initiated to modernize BC’s administrative justice system. The majority of the Act(Sections 1 through 176 and 179 to 190) will come into force by regulation. The remainder of the Act is in force on Royal Assent.
The Act incorporates the provisions of the earlier Administrative Tribunals Appointment and Administration Act, SBC 2003 c. 47, which was the first component of the legislative reforms. The Act provides one comprehensive statute addressing administrative tribunal appointments, administration, powers and procedures. It essentially codifies the common law and introduces consistent standards and practices for 24 enumerated provincial administrative tribunals, including the Labour Relations Board, the Human Rights Tribunal, the Employment Standards Tribunal and the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal.
The Act is groundbreaking insofar as it:
- provides an express legislated process for resolving most constitutional questions through the courts; and
- dictates the appropriate standards of judicial review for all decisions made by the enumerated tribunals.
The first ten sections of the Act are derived from the now repealed Administrative Tribunals Appointment and Administration Act. They outline the responsibilities and terms of appointment for tribunal chairs and members. Sections 11 through 61 address issues such as:
- notice requirements
- public access to rules
- details concerning orders, decisions and tribunal proceedings
- the service of documents
- time limits for decisions
- fees, costs and appeals
These sections are either adopted by reference or through direct amendments in each tribunal’s enabling legislation. Not all sections apply to each tribunal, and there are some variations in language reflected in provisions enacted directly in a tribunal’s home statute. Sections 62 through 191 are consequential amendments to the enabling statutes for the 24 affected tribunals.