General applications

GA13: Take part in a complaint as a non-party (intervene)

Last updated: January 25, 2024

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This page gives you information you need to apply to take part in a complaint as a non-party. The legal term for taking part as a non-party is “intervene”.

The parties to a human rights complaint have the right to take part in the Tribunal process.

The Office of the Human Rights Commissioner has a right to take part under s. 22.1(a) of the Human Rights Code. The Tribunal sets the terms for the Commissioner’s role.

The Tribunal may allow others to take part under s. 22.1(2) of the Human Rights Code.

Legal test to intervene

There are two tests:

  1. The person or group would be affected by an order sought under s. 37 of the Human Rights Code, or
  2. The person or group will:
    (a) help the Tribunal make its decision, and
    (b) will not harm the other parties.

The legal term for assist is “make a useful contribution to the resolution of the complaint”.

The legal term for harm is “unduly prejudice”.

Information to include when you apply

When you apply:

  • Describe the person or group who wants to intervene
  • Describe how the person or group would be affected by a remedy in the case or
  • Describe how the person or group can help the Tribunal make its decision
  • Say how the person or group wants to take part

“We want to give a 20-page written argument about [describe] after the hearing.”

“The group wants to make a 15-minute oral argument after the hearing.”

  • Usually, the Tribunal only lets a non-party make argument. If you want to give evidence or question witnesses, you must explain why.
  • Describe the effect of your role on the other parties.

“The parties may want to respond to our argument. But this will not delay or complicate the hearing.”

Helping the Tribunal

An intervenor may help the Tribunal by telling it:

  • the social or historical context of the complaint
  • other groups’ views about the complaint
  • argument about how to interpret the Human Rights Code
  • how a remedy might affect others


  • any special expertise or knowledge you have in relation to the issues in the complaint
  • any different view you would bring
  • how you can help the Tribunal to decide the complaint

Harm to the parties

Harm means making the process unfair for a party.

The complaint process belongs to the parties. The parties decide the issues. Intervenors can harm a party if they add a new issue. This could add cost and delay.

You should apply to take part as early as possible. Usually, the Tribunal won’t let a non-party delay the process.


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