Legal News

Human Rights Tribunal Establishes Test for Deferral of Complaints

The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal has established the test for deferring complaints under Section 25 of the Human Rights Code. Section 25(2) of the Code provides the Tribunal with discretion to defer a complaint if the issues in question are capable of being appropriately dealt with in an alternative proceeding.

Prior to the recent changes to the Code and the elimination of the Human Rights Commission, the Commissioner of Investigation had exercised similar powers, although no clear policies were established as to how the discretion was to be exercised.

The Tribunal has now set out the test that will be used to determine whether the complaint should be deferred under Section 25(5), which involves consideration of the following:

  • The subject matter and nature of the other proceedings;
  • The adequacy of the remedies available in the other proceedings;
  • Concern about unnecessary duplication of proceedings; and
  • The drain such proceedings may represent on both institutional resources and the resources of the parties.;

In the case before it, the Tribunal held that it was appropriate to defer the proceedings pending the outcome of an ongoing arbitration involving the complainant. The Tribunal relied primarily on the fact that arbitration proceedings had already commenced and there was no guarantee that the Tribunal’s hearing process would provide the complainant with a more timely resolution of the dispute. Further, the Tribunal expressed concern over the needless duplication of resources which would result from a second proceeding. Finally, the Tribunal held that the arbitrator was capable of providing adequate remedies to the complainant in the event his grievance was successful.

This decision indicates the Tribunal is willing to exercise its discretion to allow arbitration proceedings to run their course prior to proceeding with adjudication of complaints based on the same issues.

David Huppie v. Fording Coal Limited, 2003 BCHRT 29, June 26, 2003

(click here for full text of the judgment)