Dispute Resolution for Societies


A society is often established to support an educational, charitable, sporting, environmental or other purpose. Despite its good intentions, and the requirement to operate in a manner that complies with the law, disputes can arise. Those involved in a dispute related to a society can pursue various avenues for resolution under either the Societies Act, SBC 2015, c. 18 (the “Act”) or the Civil Resolutions Tribunal Act, SBC 2015, c. 25 (the “CRTA”).

Below are some dispute resolution options under the Act:

  1. Oppression remedy: enforces fairness for individual member(s). A member of a society may apply to the Court if either the society’s activities, or its directors’ powers, are being exercised in a way that is “oppressive” or “unfairly prejudicial” to one or more of the society’s members. The Court may make any order it considers appropriate, including prohibiting the unfairly prejudicial act, removing a director, directing the society to compensate the aggrieved member, or regulating the society’s conduct.
  2. Derivative action: enforces rights on behalf of the entire society. A member, director, or another person the Court considers appropriate can apply to the Court on behalf of the society to enforce a right or duty owed to the society or to defend a legal proceeding brought against it.
  3. Compliance or restraining order: A member, director, or another person the Court considers appropriate may apply to the Court for an order directing a person to comply with the Act, its regulations, the bylaws of the society, or direct the society itself to refrain from carrying on activities that are inconsistent with its purposes.
  4. Remedying irregularities: The Court may intervene in a society’s affairs when some errors or irregularities occur in the conduct of that society’s activities or internal affairs.
  5. Relief in legal proceedings: A director of a society can apply to the Court for relief from being held liable for negligence or other default in duty.
  6. Access to records: A member or other person who feels they are entitled to access a record kept by a society can apply to the registrar to access it. If the society fails to meet its record access obligations, the registrar will order access to the record.
  7. Correction or reconstruction of records: The society, one of its members, a director or another person the Court considers appropriate may apply to correct or “reconstruct” records that have been lost or destroyed.

Alternatively, you may apply to the Civil Resolution Tribunal if your society dispute relates to the following matters:

  • Interpretation or application of the Societies Act or its regulations, or the society’s constitution or bylaws, including requests to inspect, or to receive a copy of, the society’s records
  • An action, threatened action, or decision by a society or its directors in relation to a member; or
  • A decision of the society or its directors in relation to a member.

One or more of the following remedies may be ordered under the CRTA:

  1. Require a party to do something, such as requiring the society to provide access to, or a copy of, a record;
  2. Require a party to refrain from doing something; or
  3. Require a party to pay money.

If you require further information on your options, please contact our office.