Get a final decision
The decision from the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT) cannot be appealed. The decision is sent to all parties and WorkSafeBC.
WorkSafeBC implements final WCAT decisions. Contact the WorkSafeBC claim officer or department with any questions about this step.
Making the decision
A decision takes about six months from the date that WorkSafeBC shares the claim file. It may take longer if the appeal is complicated or if parties ask for more time.
The vice chair or panel assigned writes their decision after considering:
- Evidence, testimony or documents shared by all parties
- The contents of the WorkSafeBC claim file
- Law, policies, rules, practices and procedures that apply
- Court cases and other WCAT decisions that involve similar issues
In a compensation appeal, if evidence supporting different sides of an issue is evenly weighted, the decision will be made in favour of the worker.
The decision will include:
- A summary of the issues and relevant arguments (submissions)
- Reasons for the decision based on relevant facts or findings from the evidence, the vice chair’s weighing of the evidence, and the application of law and policy to that evidence
Possible decision outcomes
The previous decision or order is changed by WCAT. A decision or order may be varied “in part” when there’s more than one issue and the appellant is successful on some, but not all of the appealed issues.
The appeal is closed or dismissed without a full hearing because:
- The appeal was late and a time extension request was denied
- The appeal was not within WCAT jurisdiction
- The appellant withdrew the appeal or didn’t respond to communication from WCAT
- The appeal is frivolous, vexatious or an abuse of process
- The appeal was made in bad faith or for an improper purpose
- The appellant failed to comply with a WCAT order
- The appeal is certain to fail
- The issue in the appeal has been properly dealt with in another proceeding
Get a decision corrected or clarified, or report a missed issue
For example, this often occurs in the context of requests for appeal expense reimbursement.
Within 90 days of the decision date, send a letter or email to the Tribunal Counsel Office at WCAT to:
- Report an error or omission that needs to be corrected – for example, an error in calculation or spelling
- Get a decision clarified if it’s hard to understand – the vice chair will decide whether clarification is necessary
- Ask for a decision on an issue that was missed in the appeal – the vice chair can finish their decision by writing an addendum
Apply for a reconsideration of a decision
Any of the parties involved in an appeal can apply for reconsideration. There is no time limit to apply.
A decision may be reconsidered for the following reasons (or grounds):
Evidence is “new” if becomes available after an appeal has been decided and it didn’t exist before, or you didn’t know about it and were not able to find it with reasonable efforts.
Show that every effort was made to get evidence submitted in time. For example, a doctor’s report is likely not considered new evidence if it could have been obtained during the normal timeline of the appeal.
Submit new evidence that’s substantial and relevant – information that has weight and supports a different conclusion. For example, information from a newly available medical test might be considered new evidence, but an opinion from a doctor or specialist that confirms evidence already on file is not.
This means WCAT:
- Decided a matter outside WCAT’s jurisdiction in that appeal – for example, making a decision about a residential tenancy matter
- Failed to decide a matter that it was required to decide – for example, failing or refusing to decide an issue that was raised by the appellant and was included in the decision being appealed
- Was procedurally unfair during the decision-making process (not the decision outcome) – for example, refusing to allow a party to make a submission during an appeal
To apply, send the application form or a letter with your grounds for reconsideration to the Tribunal Counsel Office at WCAT.
Be sure to include new evidence or proof of situations where WCAT did not use procedures that were fair.
If you had more than one appeal joined together, apply for reconsideration on new evidence grounds separately for each appeal. If new evidence is relevant to more than one of the joined appeals, apply for reconsideration of all of them at the same time. Apply for reconsideration on jurisdictional defect or fairness grounds jointly.
If the WCAT Tribunal Counsel Office determines that there are potential reasons for a reconsideration, all parties are notified or invited to participate. All parties can then make written submissions which are forwarded to a panel for decision. In most cases, this is the same panel who decided the original appeal.
If the panel decides that grounds for reconsideration have been established, it will allow your application in a written decision. You will be given the opportunity to make submissions on the merits of the appeal. The panel will then rehear all or part of the appeal and issue a new decision.
In some cases, parties are asked to make submissions that address both aspects of the reconsideration process at the same time. In this situation, WCAT may issue a single decision addressing both issues if the grounds for reconsideration have been met.
Get a judge to review a decision
Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal decisions and decision-making process can be reviewed by the Supreme Court of British Columbia. This is called a judicial review.
Anyone impacted by a WCAT decision can file a petition for a judicial review. They must file their petition within 60 days of the decision date. Sometimes the court will grant an extension of time, but there is no guarantee that it will. The judge will consider the amount of time that has passed and the reason for missing the deadline when deciding whether to grant an extension.
A judicial review is not an appeal. A judge considers very limited factors in deciding whether to review a WCAT decision. The judge may allow a review if:
- The WCAT decision contained a “patently unreasonable” error of fact or law (e.g. the decision was not rational; it was made without considering critical evidence or without explaining why certain evidence was accepted and not other evidence)
- WCAT exercised discretionary power in a “patently unreasonable” way – making a choice between multiple possibilities, rather than making a finding of fact or law
- WCAT made a true jurisdictional error
It is not enough that a different vice chair might have decided the appeal differently.
In your petition, state the legal error in the WCAT decision. Refer to the specific law and policy that supports the evidence.
Consider applying for reconsideration with WCAT at the same time. If you have new evidence, WCAT might object to your judicial review if you don’t also request a reconsideration. There’s no need to delay filing a petition for judicial review if you’re also going to apply for reconsideration. It’s important to get the judicial review process started on time.
Find out how to serve documents to other parties: Supreme Court of British Columbia Guidebooks > Starting a Proceeding by Petition (PDF, 774KB). If the petition is not served to all parties, the court may delay your hearing or dismiss the petition.
Courier documents to WCAT or drop them off with the receptionist.
- The WorkSafeBC file
- All WCAT correspondence
- Any written submissions from the parties to the appeal
- The recording of the oral hearing
- WCAT procedural decisions granting extensions of time, adjournments, etc.
- The WCAT final decision
Consult with WCAT and the other respondents to choose a date that works for everyone. Judicial review hearings take at least one day, often longer.
By 4 pm one full day before the hearing date:
- File the petition record in court, along with extra copies of some of the documents
- Prepare an index of the petition record and serve it on all respondents, including WCAT
Find a complete list of what must be included in the petition record and what you must file: Supreme Court of British Columbia Guidebooks > Starting a Proceeding by Petition (PDF, 774KB).
On the day of the hearing, you may have to wait for your petition to be heard by the judge. The court clerk will provide instructions about what to do.
In front of the judge, the petitioner (the person who requested the judicial review) speaks first. Address the judge as My Lord or My Lady. Address opposing parties as Mr. or Ms. Explain your case and answer any questions the judge may ask.
WCAT will participate by showing how the record supports the decision that is the subject of judicial review or address issues of jurisdiction. If WorkSafeBC was served or if the court allows them to participate, they may address issues that affect their interests, such as challenges to the lawfulness of a WorkSafeBC policy. If there are other respondents participating, they will also have an opportunity to argue why the petition should not be granted. For example, they may argue that the WCAT decision is correct.
The petitioner usually has an opportunity to reply. It’s a final chance to disagree with anything new that was said which you did not have a chance to address yet. Follow the judge’s directions if you have questions about your right to reply.
The judge may make a decision at the end of the hearing or give the parties a written decision later.
If you are successful, prepare an order that accurately describes the decision of the court. Each party needs to review the order and sign it. Send the signed copy to the judge for approval. If your application is not successful, WCAT or another respondent will prepare the order. You can appeal the decision to the BC Court of Appeal within 30 days.
Get more information: Contact the Supreme Court of British Columbia registry.
Respond to a petition
A response tells the petitioner and other parties how you intend to respond to the petition. It outlines the factual and legal reasons for your response along with a list of documents that you will use. File and serve two copies of a response to the petitioner and one copy to every other party within 21 days from the date you are served with the filed petition (if you live and were served within Canada). Include any affidavit(s) you are relying on with your response.
Consult a lawyer or get legal advice
Justice Access Centre: Supreme Court Self-Help and Information Services
Find a lawyer: Canadian Bar Association
Free legal help: Community Legal Assistance Society | Access Pro Bono | Law Students’ Legal Advice Program
Get more information
Supreme Court of British Columbia Guidebooks > Defending a Proceeding Started by Petition (PDF, 589KB)
Judicial Review Package – Supreme Court of British Columbia (PDF, 332KB)
BC Judicial Review Self-Help Guide – Community Legal Assistance Society
Judicial Review Procedure Act
Ask for help
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