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Conflict is all around us. From time to time, everyone gets into a dispute with someone else. It might be with a neighbour, a work colleague, a property manager, or a service provider. One thing is for sure, we all face conflict in our lives.
For some of us, it is important to win a dispute at all costs, and we risk damaging important relationships. Others avoid conflict altogether. But unresolved conflict tends to grow, and what may have started as a small problem can become a huge crisis.
Some disputes are settled in court through a civil lawsuit. Disagreements where the amount in dispute is between $5,001 and $35,000 go to Small Claims Court. Disputes over $35,000 go to the Supreme Court of BC.
Certain types of disputes are resolved by government boards, commissions, or agencies — known as tribunals. Instead of going to court, some complaints and disputes are handled by administrative tribunals (learn more: Tribunals vs Courts). Tribunals deal with administrative law issues that may include things like the minimum wage, employment insurance, safety standards, the rates we pay for telephone service, or the rules about how doctors, lawyers or accountants must practice.
By the time a dispute gets to a court or a tribunal, people have often spent a lot of time, energy, and money on a situation that will not necessarily end up the way they had hoped. The court system is adversarial – which means that one side wins and one side loses. Rather than settling disputes, they may lead to on-going conflict.
In the end, finding a compromise and working things out will probably make things a lot easier for you, and the outcome may be more satisfactory too.
Whenever possible, it is better to resolve a disagreement early, before it escalates into a legal dispute. Working things out through a negotiated solution helps relationships. Plus, it can save both sides a lot of time, money and stress.
The information and animated videos in this section will help you work towards early resolution of your disagreement. A good place to start is to understand what your options are for resolving a dispute without going to court or a tribunal. See Choosing a Dispute Resolution Option. You may also want to learn more about what’s behind most disputes, which is explained in Understanding Disputes.
On the other hand, if you are already willing to try to talk with the other person involved in the dispute, see Preparing for a Tough Talk and Negotiating a Solution. These will provide you with tips for how to make the discussion go smoother.
If you are still unable to resolve your dispute after reading the resources in this section, you will need to consider other channels – like going to court or taking your case to a tribunal. See Lawsuits to learn more about your court options. See the AdminLawBC Directory of Tribunals & Agencies to find the right tribunal for your issue.
IMPORTANT: This page provides legal information, not legal advice. If you need legal advice consult a lawyer.
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