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Case law

The Human Rights Tribunal makes its decisions based on the facts and the law. The law is set out in the Human Rights Code and decisions that have interpreted it. These decisions are called case law.

When the Tribunal takes the same approach as an earlier case, that is called “following” the decision or case.
Cases become more important as the levels of court get higher. The levels of court are:

  • BC Human Rights Tribunal (BCHRT): The Tribunal will usually follow its own cases, but is not required to. If it is not going to follow one of its own cases, it explains why not.
  • BC Supreme Court (BCSC): The BC Supreme Court is the first level of court above the Tribunal. The Tribunal must follow cases from the BC Supreme Court.
  • BC Court of Appeal (BCCA): The BC Court of Appeal is the highest level of court in British Columbia. The Tribunal must follow cases from the BC Court of Appeal.
  • Supreme Court of Canada (SCC): The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court in Canada. All courts, including the Tribunal, must follow cases from the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Tribunal might also consider cases from other jurisdictions in Canada, for example Ontario. It is not required to follow those cases, but it may find them useful.

You can usually tell which court made a decision by the name of the decision or “legal citation”.

The citation usually looks like this:

Morgan v. Snail,

Names of the parties


Year of the decision


Name of the decision maker

BCHRT: BC Human Rights Tribunal
BCSC: BC Supreme Court
BCCA: BC Court of Appeal
SCC: Supreme Court of Canada


Decision Number


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Practice directions


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Leading cases




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