Bylaw Dispute Adjudication System
What is bylaw dispute adjudication?
The Bylaw Dispute Adjudication system allows the District of North Cowichan to manage bylaw disputes locally rather than through the Provincial Court system. Bylaw Offence Notices can be disputed out of court with an adjudicator appointed by the Provincial Attorney General’s Office.
Why is adjudication used?
- Simplifies the dispute process
- More convenient for disputants because attendance at an adjudication hearing is not mandatory
- Removes bylaw violations from the Provincial court system
- Reduces ticket dispute time
- Reduces need to employ lawyers or enforcement officers to take a case to court
- More cost effective and efficient system; and
- Helps ensure bylaw compliance
How does bylaw dispute adjudication work?
Step One: Pay or Dispute a Bylaw Offence
After receiving a Bylaw Offence Notice (BON), you have the option to either pay the BON or dispute it. You have 14 calendar days upon receipt of the BON to dispute it. If a dispute is not filed with the District of North Cowichan within 14 calendar days, you will not be able to dispute it later.
If you pay the BON within 14 calendar days of receipt, the fine (if authorized under Bylaw Offence Notice Enforcement Bylaw) will be reduced by 50%. BONs that have not been disputed and remain unpaid after 28 days will be subject to a $20 late penalty surcharge.
To dispute a BON, fill out the information on the rear of the BON and deliver it in person, by email or fax within 14 calendar days to:
- District of North Cowichan – Bylaw Services, 7030 Trans-Canada Highway, Duncan, BC V9L 6A1
- Fax: 250.746.3133
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Step Two: Bylaw Offence Notice Dispute Process
If disputed, the BON will then be assigned to a Screening Officer who will contact you to review the details of your dispute. The Screening Officer will either confirm or cancel the BON based on the BON screening policy. If the Screening Officer determines that the BON will be upheld, the disputant will be offered the choice of:
- Paying the full amount of the fine (not eligible for discounted amount).
- Entering into a compliance agreement, which establishes terms and conditions for compliance, including time periods for payment of penalties and plans to cease or remedy the bylaw contraventions that gave rise to the BON. As a term of the compliance agreement, the Screening Officer may authorize a reduction of the prescribed penalty by 35%.
- Requesting a bylaw dispute adjudication hearing.
Step Three: Adjudication Hearing
If you request an adjudication hearing, you will be contacted by a dispute coordinator to set the date, time and location of the hearing. You can choose your preferred method of participation: in person, by phone/video, or in writing.
Prior to the hearing, an evidence package will be sent to you which will include the evidence being presented at the hearing.
At the hearing, an independent adjudicator will determine if the bylaw offence occurred or not.
- If the adjudicator determines the offence occurred, you will be required to pay the full fine amount, plus a $25 adjudication fee.
- If the adjudicator determines the offence did not occur, the BON will be cancelled.
Bylaw dispute adjudications are open to the public. If a disputant fails to appear or present their case, the adjudicator must order the penalty set out in the BON is immediately due and payable to the District of North Cowichan. The decision of the adjudicator is final.
The adjudicator cannot reduce the fine amount and the dispute can only be cancelled by paying the indicated fine amount. A paid BON cannot be taken to adjudication.