Contents


BC Human Rights Tribunal

Application for an Order that Another Party Pay Costs for Improper Conduct

Information Sheet GA 12

Each party is responsible for their own costs of making or defending a complaint. Unlike the courts, the Tribunal does not have the power to order “costs” to the successful party. Rather, the purpose of the Tribunal ordering a party to pay “costs” is to deter and punish bad behaviour in the complaint process, and to promote compliance with the Tribunal’s rules and orders.

Conditions to get an order for costs

You must show:

  • The other party engaged in improper conduct during the course of the complaint; or
  • The other party contravened a rule, decision, order or direction of the Tribunal.

More information about conduct that justifies costs

The Tribunal is concerned about conduct that has a significant impact on the integrity of the Tribunal’s processes, and conduct that has a significant, unfair impact on another party. Conduct does not need to be intentional to be improper, but things done maliciously will be punished more severely.

For example, a single instance of filing a document later than required in the Rules likely is not serious enough to justify an order for costs.

Examples of conduct that may be improper:

  • Persistently being rude or sarcastic during a hearing
  • Making unfounded smears or accusations about another party or the Tribunal
  • Threatening the other parties or the Tribunal
  • Making disrespectful or inflammatory submissions
  • Destroying relevant documents
  • Conduct that results in unnecessary costs and/or delay such as:
    • The last minute withdrawal of a complaint or filing of a dismissal application
    • Failing to attend a hearing, without an excuse, after leading other parties to believe they would attend
    • Raising an issue at a hearing that should have been raised earlier in the process

How much is awarded?

Information the Tribunal may consider includes:

  • Ability to pay (an award that would deter an individual of limited means may not be enough to deter a party with significant resources)
  • Effect of the conduct on the other parties and on the proceedings
  • Actual costs incurred (in rare cases, the Tribunal will use the actual costs incurred by the wronged party as a guide to the costs award)
  • Costs awarded in cases involving similar circumstances

Apply for an order for costs

Apply using a General Application. At a hearing, you can also tell the Tribunal Member that you want to ask for costs for improper conduct, and ask the Tribunal Member if they want you to explain why orally or in writing.