General applications

GA5: Add a respondent to a complaint

Last updated: January 24, 2024

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Why add a respondent

A respondent is someone you say is responsible for the discrimination. The Tribunal can only give a remedy against a respondent.

A complainant can apply to add another person or organization as a respondent.

A respondent can also apply to add a respondent if the complainant agrees or doesn’t object. The Tribunal won’t add a respondent if the complainant objects. The complainant can withdraw the complaint against that respondent. So, it makes no sense to add them as a respondent.

Legal test to add a respondent

You must show three things:

  1. The person’s conduct could be discrimination under the Human Rights Code
  2. You are applying to add the person within the 1-year time limit in the Human Rights Code or the Tribunal should allow you to add them late
  3. Adding the person will help get to a “just and timely resolution” of the complaint

1. Possible discrimination

Describe this person’s conduct. Explain how it harmed the complainant. Set out the facts that show a connection between the harm and the ground(s) of discrimination.

For more information about discrimination, see My human rights and duties under the BC Human Rights Code.

2. 1-year time limit

There is a 1-year time limit in the Human Rights Code.

You apply within the time limit if the conduct was in the last year.

You apply within the time limit if the conduct is similar and some of it was in the last year. The legal term is a “continuing contravention”.

If you apply late, you must show two things:

First, there is a good reason to add the respondent. The legal term is that it must be in the “public interest”.
Reasons include:

  • why you are adding them late
  • why adding them would benefit the public

Second, the delay does not cause real harm to anyone. The legal term is no “substantial prejudice”.
The delay means the time after the 1-year time limit.
Real harm includes things like:

  • the respondent lost evidence

Set out any harm. Explain how the new respondent can still defend against the allegation.

Or say, “I know of no harm to the new respondent.”

For more information, see Time limit for filing a human rights complaint.

3. Just and timely resolution

You must show that adding the respondent will help get to a “just and timely resolution” of the complaint.

The Tribunal will consider the effect on the process and the outcome.

  • How will it affect the time to solve the complaint?
  • How much would it cost the other side?
  • Would it affect a participant’s ability to present their side?
  • Would it affect a participant’s chance to have a say about something important? For example, something that could affect the outcome of the complaint.

In the application, explain:

  • How will adding the new respondent affect the other participants?
  • How much will it delay things? Is there a hearing set?
  • How will the process still be fair and timely?


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