5.6 BC Supreme Court Judicial Review

If you receive a dispute resolution decision that you think is unfair, but does not fit the criteria for a Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) Review Consideration, you might have to consider a Judicial Review application through BC Supreme Court. The fee to apply for a Judicial Review is $200 and the deadline is 60 days from the date of the decision.

The standard of review for Judicial Review applications is quite high, due to the fact that the RTB has exclusive jurisdiction over disputes under the Residential Tenancy Act. The BC Supreme Court considers the RTB an expert tribunal, which means that in the vast majority of cases, a judge can only intervene and set aside an RTB decision if there was a denial of procedural fairness or a patently unreasonable error:

  1. Procedural Unfairness. Section 58 of the Administrative Tribunals Act says that “questions about the application of common law rules of natural justice and procedural fairness must be decided having regard to whether, in all of the circumstances, the tribunal acted fairly.” The BC Supreme Court has found that procedural fairness consists of two rights: the right to be heard and the right to an impartial hearing.
  2. Patent Unreasonableness. Section 58 of the Administrative Tribunals Act says that a finding of fact or law or an exercise of discretion by the RTB can only be interfered with by the court if it is patently unreasonable. A discretionary decision is patently unreasonable if it:
  • is exercised arbitrarily or in bad faith;
  • is exercised for an improper purpose;
  • is based entirely or predominantly on irrelevant factors; or
  • fails to take statutory requirements into account.

If a BC Supreme Court judge finds a decision to be procedurally unfair or patently unreasonable, they will usually refer the matter back to the RTB and order that another hearing be held. This means that even if you are successful with a Judicial Review application, there is no guarantee that you will win your new dispute resolution hearing at the RTB.