Area of Law: Real Estate Law
Answer # 422
Filing a case with Condominium Authority Ontario (CAT)Region: Ontario Answer # 422
Types of cases that can be filed with CAT
The Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) was recently created to provide a faster and less costly method to resolve problems arising in a condominium environment. At the current time however, only disputes about records can be brought to CAT.
CAT five-step dispute resolution process
Step 1. File a case
People with a dispute can file their case using the Tribunal’s online system found on the Condominium Authority Ontario website. There is a $25 Application Fee. The person submitting the application is called the Applicant, and the person they are filing their complaint against is called a respondent. The Applicant can hire a representative to file the case on their behalf. The representative must be a lawyer or paralegal licensed with the Law Society of Ontario. If the Application is complete, the Tribunal will send the Applicant a Notice of Application that provides instructions on how to deliver Notice of the case to the Respondent.
Step 2. Joining the case
At this stage, the respondent named in the Application must respond to the Application using the Tribunal’s online system. Both parties are referred to as Users.
Step 3. Negotiation
Users exchange documents and messages to try to settle the dispute. At this stage, no Tribunal staff or Member is involved.
The Tribunal will close the case at this stage if
- the Users agree to settle the dispute through a Settlement Agreement which covers all the issues in dispute; or
- when there has been no settlement offer made by any User in more than 30 days.
If the Users do not agree to settle the dispute, the Applicant can choose to pay an additional fee of $50 to move the Application to the next stage – Mediation.
Step 4. Mediation
In this stage, the Tribunal assigns a Mediator to work with the Users to find ways to settle the dispute. If the Users agree to settle the dispute, the Tribunal’s online system creates an agreement form or a Consent Order. If the Users do not settle the dispute at this stage, the Applicant can choose to pay another fee of $125 and move the Application to Stage 5 – Tribunal Decision.
Step 5. Adjudication — Tribunal decision
Users must deliver documents, information, and evidence to the other Users through the online system at the beginning of this stage. The adjudication process will be in the form of a hearing in writing. A Tribunal Member will consider the evidence and arguments provided by the Users and make a final decision. However, the Member can also schedule a telephone conference call, a video-conference, or conduct other live proceedings.
If a User wishes to use evidence from a witness, they must provide a brief summary of the evidence that their witness is expected to give, and how it will be given. This can be done using the online system, e-mail, telephone, videoconference, or any other method.
What decisions can the Tribunal order?
The Tribunal can make the following orders:
• do something, or stop doing something
• pay money to another User (a Settlement Agreement)
• pay the costs or expenses of another User; or
• pay costs to CAT
Users will receive the Tribunal’s decision in due course, which can be downloaded from the online system. Although decisions are final and binding, a User can ask that the Tribunal reopen a case if the decision was made after the User failed to respond or participate in the case, and had a good reason for this.
Users can file an appeal of the decision with Divisional Court, but only if they believe that the Member incorrectly interpreted or applied the law. They cannot file an appeal just because they disagree with the decision.
Enforcing an Order
The Tribunal does not enforce orders. If you have a Settlement Agreement or an Order from CAT, and the other User does not follow it or do what they have been ordered to do, you can enforce the Order – but only through the courts.
Enforcing an order can be done through either the Small Claims Court (for cases up-to $25,000) or at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
Special rules for condominium directors or managers
Special rules apply to condominium directors or managers who wish to file or join a case on behalf of the condominium corporation. For example, the condominium corporation must be registered with CAT. For more information regarding this, visit CAO.
Early dismissal – what cases will not be heard?
In some cases, the Tribunal can dismiss an Application before it goes through the Tribunal process. This can include:
- an Application about minor issues;
- an Application that the Tribunal has no legal power to hear or decide;
- the Applicant is using the Tribunal for an improper purpose;
- the Applicant is filing documents with the Tribunal that the Applicant knew or ought to have known had false or misleading information; or
- the Tribunal has found that the Applicant has abandoned their Application because the Applicant no longer wants to continue with the Application or is no longer actively involved in the Application.
The Condominium Authority of Ontario now charges an assessment fee to condo corporations to cover the cost of it’s dispute prevention services (condo buying guide, online self-help tools). The fee is $1 per unit, per month. Condo corporations collect the fee from unit owners as part of their monthly common expenses.
For more information about filing or joining a case at CAT, visit the Condominium Authority Ontario (CAO) website.
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