Strata Alert: Supreme Court of Canada Rules That the BC Supreme Court “Hearing Fees” Are Unconstitutional

Supreme Court of Canada Rules That the BC Supreme Court “Hearing Fees” Are Unconstitutional


Paul G. Mendes, Partner
Phone: 604-685-4894.

Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia v. British Columbia (Attorney General) 2014 SCC 59


In a major advance for access to justice in British Columbia, the Supreme Court of Canada has struck down the hearing fees imposed by court registries across the province. The fees, which can range as high as $800 per day for hearing over 10 days, were ruled unconstitutional by Canada’s highest court last week.

The BC Branch of the Canadian Bar Association and BC Trial Lawyer’s Association were interveners in this important case.  In a press release issued last week Alex Shorten, president of the BC branch of the Bar Association stated that:

“The highest court in our country has sent a strong message to all provincial governments that imposing fees on people who face financial barriers to accessing the courts is no longer acceptable… Access to our courts is a protected right, not just for those who are ‘indigent’ and could have their fees waived, and not just for those who have significant financial resources. This decision confirms the same right exists for anyone for whom the payment of court fees may impact on their ability to fund other essentials – the modest and middle-income majority, for whom access to justice has become a very real challenge.”

As a result of this ruling, the BC Government must revisit the fee schedule of the BC Supreme Court Civil Rules, with the likely result that the fees will be reinstated, but with broader discretion for judges to waive those fees in appropriate cases.  Until that happens, the court registries in BC will be unable to impose hearing fees on any new or pending cases.

The decision will have an impact on the litigation of strata law disputes where owners and strata corporations are struggling with the high cost of resolving disputes through the courts.

WHAT WE DO: Lesperance Mendes assists strata corporations, strata managers and strata lot owners to resolve disputes through negotiation, mediation, arbitration and the courts.  If you have an unresolved legal dispute at your strata that requires a strategic or creative solution, contact Paul G. Mendes at 604-685-4894 or by email at

Lesperance Mendes Lawyers
900 Howe St #550, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2M4
(604) 685-3567