Processing of Applications - General

    Introduction

The purpose of this Practice Guideline is to outline the Board's internal processing of applications, with particular emphasis on "case management" initiatives.  The Guideline applies to all applications which are not otherwise covered by a specific procedure (e.g., expedited unfair labour practice complaints and Part 5 applications).  However, a hallmark of effective case management must be flexibility.  The extent to which the procedures outlined below apply to a particular application will depend greatly on the nature of the case.

 Objectives

The objectives of proper "case management" include:  avoiding undue delay in the processing of applications; ensuring the Board's resources are optimally utilized; encouraging the parties to deal directly with each other and obtain a better understanding of their respective positions; expediting the presentation of evidence and argument at hearings; and encouraging the settlement of disputes.  Board Rule 17A outlines in detail the options available at pre-hearing conferences in order to facilitate effective case management.

 Procedure

1.            All applications received by the Board will initially be entered in the Registry.  The Board's filing hours are 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Monday to Friday, excluding statutory holidays.  Applications, submissions or other documents received by the Board after 4:00 p.m. will be treated as if received at 8:00 a.m. the next business day, unless special arrangements have been made in advance.  The Registrar will determine whether an application should be processed on an expedited basis (e.g., where a specific time frame is directed by the Labour Relations Code or the Rules or the matter is urgent) or should be sent out for submissions.  Where submissions are to be requested, the file will be assigned to the appropriate Case Administrator by geographic area.

             The Labour Relations Board accepts applications (filled in application form attached to an e-mail) or submissions via e-mail. Place the appropriate word "Application" or "Submission" in the subject line of the e-mail, along with any relevant case numbers (if known for submissions) so it can easily be identified. Once the e-mail is received at the Labour Relations Board an auto-reply will automatically be sent back to the user acknowledging receipt of the correspondence.  If you don't receive the auto-reply acknowledgement within a few minutes you must follow up with a phone call to the Labour Relations Board Receptionist at 604 660-1300. Explain the situation and you will be connected with the Registry Mail Clerk for follow up. Correspondence will be accepted at  registrar@lrb.bc.ca.   

 2.           The Case Administrator will retain primary responsibility for co-ordination of the submission process.  In addition to the requirements of specific applications contained in either the Code or the Rules, all applications and replies shall comply with Rules 2(2) and 4(2) in particular.  This means that all parties shall:

               (a)      state whether a hearing before the board is requested;

               (b)      if a hearing is requested, provide reasons for the request together with an  estimate of the time required and the proposed location of the hearing; and

               (c)      contain a statement as to the urgency of the matter and the reasons for any stated urgency.

 3.          Those who are unable to meet a deadline for filing an application may call the Board's Registrar, Deputy Registrar or Case Administrators ahead of time for filing.  Extension requests for the filing of a Section 99 or 141 application should be directed to the Registrar; those concerning submissions should be directed to the appropriate Case Administrator.  Where possible, consent of the other parties should be obtained, although the practice of the Board is to grant short extensions (up to three working days for Section 99 or 141 applications, and up to five working days for submissions) without requiring that such consent be obtained.  Longer extensions may be granted where agreed to by the parties, if acceptable to the Board (additional extensions beyond three working days are rarely granted for Section 141 applications).  If a longer extension is required and agreement of the other parties cannot be obtained, the party requesting an extension should apply to the Registrar in writing, setting out the reasons an extension is required.

 4.           Parties should be aware that a request for an extension does not operate as a stay; if the Board has not yet made a determination on the request for an extension, the original deadline continues to apply.

  5.           A party who obtains an extension should inform the other parties immediately -- in the case of a Section 99 or 141 application, by letter to the Board copied to the other parties.  The party should also confirm the extension in its application or submissions.

  6.          After the application has been received and the time for filing any replies with the Board has passed, the file will be sent to the Adjudication Division for assignment to a Panel, usually headed by a Vice-Chair.

  7.         Either before or after a hearing has been scheduled, the Vice-Chair will consider an appropriate "case management" strategy for the file.  This will typically involve a conference with the parties (either in person or by telephone) prior to the hearing.  Board Rule 17A enumerates some of the options available, including:

               (a)      directing the pre-hearing disclosure of documents by a party or by any other person who may be called as a witness in the proceeding;

              (b)      directing a party to provide further facts or details of the position it is taking in the proceeding;

              (c)      developing an agreed statement of facts, obtaining admissions which might facilitate the hearing, or preparing a sworn statement of the evidence which will be elicited from a witness in the proceeding;

               (d)      directing that an investigation be conducted and a report be prepared respecting any aspect of the proceeding;

               (e)      directing that a written submission be filed respecting a report prepared in the proceeding, or respecting any aspect of the proceeding;

               (f)       attempting to simplify the matters in dispute between the parties, including achieving the resolution of some or all of those matters;

                (g)      directing the parties to attend a settlement conference;

               (h)      discussing the conduct of the hearing, including the order in which the parties will proceed, the number and identity of witnesses, and the estimated length of time required; and

                (i)       directing any other pre-hearing step or initiative which is designed to aid in the disposition of the proceeding in accordance with Rule 1(2).

                Appropriate time lines for any case management steps (e.g., exchange of documents) should be established and monitored by the Vice-Chair.  In complex cases, more than one meeting or telephone conference may be required.  A brief conference shortly before the hearing may serve to avoid unnecessary adjournments.

  8.          An investigatory report from an Industrial Relations Officer will only be requested where the Vice-Chair determines that it is necessary or will assist the adjudication process.  The request will be made in writing and it will often be appropriate for the Vice-Chair to give specific direction as to the subject matter(s) of a report.  All reports will be requested through the Registry and will be provided to the parties (except for investigations regarding membership evidence or other matters which are required to be kept confidential).  By agreement, a report may be considered evidence in the proceedings in order to expedite the process, and parties may be requested to file submissions in respect of the Officer's report.

  9.         Settlement initiatives will be undertaken where an assessment is made that some or all of the differences between the parties can be resolved.  Board Rule 17B stipulates conditions for settlement conferences, including the provision that all parties to a proceeding shall be notified of the time, date and place for a settlement conference and a representative of a party with authority to settle may be required to be present.  The Vice-Chair or Panel assigned to the file may elect to involve the assistance of:

                (a)      a Special Investigating Officer (in the normal course);

                (b)      an Industrial Relations Officer;

                (c)      a Mediator;

                (d)      one or more Members;

                (e)      another Vice-Chair;

or any combination of the above.  Settlement discussions are "without prejudice" to the formal adjudication of applications.  Accordingly, without specific agreement of the parties, a member of the Panel assigned to hear the application will not be involved in settlement efforts.

                                                                                     Effective; 02/22/94        
                                                                                        Revised; 01/22/13        


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