What's in the Cards: The Future of the CAT
Overall, people seem to be pleased with the CAT. The process is generally much quicker, easier, and cost-effective than Small Claims Court, which was the typical way of resolving record disputes before the CAT. Voluntary mediation was an option to resolve record disputes, but few used the process (despite its many advantages over court). Many would like to see the CAT’s jurisdiction expanded in the near future to take on other matters, such as proxy and ballot disputes, requisitions, and liens. Unfortunately, the current government has not provided any details about its plans for the CAT. It could expand the jurisdiction, leave it as it is, or eliminate the CAT (the third option seems unlikely). We don't know at this point. The Act and its regulations provide some guidance on what the CAT’s jurisdiction may include in the future. Section 1.36 of the Act states that condominiums, owners and mortgagees can bring an application to the CAT for resolution of a “prescribed dispute”. Using the phrase "prescribed dispute" in the Act to describe the CAT's jurisdiction gives the government greater flexibility to easily change the CAT's jurisdiction because it is much easier to change the regulations than pass further amendments to the Act. What are the "prescribed disputes"? Currently, the only matters prescribed relate to record disputes. O.Reg. 179/17 describes the CAT's jurisdiction as: Section 55 of the Act sets out the condominium's obligation to maintain records and allow examination of records by owners, mortgagees, and purchasers. Sections 13.1 to 13.12 of O.Reg 48.01 mostly relate to the examination of records by owners, mortgagees and purchasers. Fortunately, the Act provides some guidance about what will not be within the CAT's jurisdiction in the future (unless the government decides to amend the Act). Section 1.36(4) of the Act states: The above means that it is unlikely that the CAT's jurisdiction will be expanded to real property disputes (i.e. easements, encumbrances), liens and priority issues related to liens, dangerous conditions or activities (i.e. hoarding, criminal activity), amalgamations of condominiums, or terminations of the condominium. These are serious legal issues and the CAT's hearing process is not (currently) designed for the complexities involved. Most of these disputes will continue to be resolved using court (except in limited situations where the Act requires mediation/arbitration). So the question is: what areas are most likely to be included in the CAT next? There are some areas that seem to be the logical next step. The CAT could determine the validity of requisitions (especially once the new process and prescribed forms are in place). The CAT could hear applications about voting at owners meetings, such as disputes over electronic voting, proxies and ballots. The regulations could give the CAT exclusive jurisdiction over all of these types of disputes or provide exceptions for special circumstances (i.e. alleged fraud or tampering with the proxies). The CAT could make decisions on proposed changes to the common elements, assets or services provided by the condominium and whether the proposed change requires notice or approval of the owners in accordance with section 97 of the Act. The possibilities are endless.