Q. I have been named as a Respondent in a human rights complaint, what should I do?
A. You have 4 basic options:
Option 1. Contact the Law Centre in Victoria. The Law Centre only provides legal advice and representation to Respondents and Complainants who live in the south of Vancouver Island, Greater Victoria or the Gulf Islands . They do not provide advice over the phone. The law centre can provide you with a supervised University of Victoria Law student to assist you. (1-866-385-1221)
Option 2. You can contact a lawyer to give you legal advice. Sometimes pro bono (free) lawyers are available. If not and you do not have a lawyer you can contact the lawyer referral service which can provide you with the name of a lawyer in your area. (1-800-663-1919)
Option 3. If you live in Vancouver you can contact the University of British Columbia ("UBC") Law Student Legal Advice Program ("LSLAP") (604-822-5791) which can provide you with a law student to assist if you qualify.
Option 4. You can represent yourself. The Tribunal has guides for unrepresented parties.
Early Settlement and Responding to the Complaint
Q. What’s the first thing I need to do?
A. You should think about whether or not you want to try to settle the complaint.
In the first letter you received from the Human Rights Tribunal it should indicate if the Complainant agrees to attend at an Early Settlement Meeting ("ESM"). An ESM is an opportunity to meet quickly (in 3-4 months) and try to mediate (discuss and agree to resolve) the complaint. A B.C. Human Rights Tribunal Member will attend the mediation to assist the parties to reach settlement. The Tribunal Member will not however, act as a judge, and will not force a settlement on either party. If the parties do not agree to settle, then you will be required to file your Response to the Complaint - Form 2 (Defense).
If the Complainant and/or you indicate that you do not want to attend at the ESM, the letter from the Tribunal will indicate a date by when you need to file your Response to the Complaint. This will usually be about a month after you got the letter.
You do not have to attend at an ESM if you do not want to, and you can just go ahead and file your Response, but you should probably attempt to get some legal advice first. The Tribunal’s Rules of Practice and Procedure (Rule 18) indicates how to respond to a complaint.
I disagree with the Complaint what can I do?
Q. What if I disagree with the allegations in the Complaint?
A. You have the opportunity to provide your side of the story to the Tribunal when you file your Response to Complaint. This is your defense.
Can I get the Tribunal to dismiss the Complaint?
Q. Can I get the Tribunal to dismiss the complaint if it’s not true?
A. The Tribunal rules allow for Respondents to make an application to the Tribunal to have the complaint against them dismissed prior to a hearing. One of the times this can be done is at the same time that the Response to Complaint is filed. S. 27 of the Human Rights Code provides reasons why a complaint can be dismissed. Click here for some law on cases that have been dismissed.
What if it’s not dismissed?
Q. If I make an application to dismiss the complaint and it fails, then what?
A. The Tribunal will set up a Case Conference Call (“CCC”) with all the parties to set dates. They can arrange a date for another settlement meeting if the parties want. They will also set a date for the Hearing. During the CCC the Tribunal will confirm dates for disclosure (exchange of evidence) and witness lists if they have not already been exchanged.