How adjudication works

The stages of an adjudication case

There are 2 stages for any dispute resolved through adjudication.

For detailed information about these stages, see the Dispute Adjudication Rules.

Air travel complaints: On September 30, 2023, the CTA launched a new resolution process for air travel complaints. Air travel cases that are already in adjudication will continue to use the adjudication process. All air travel complaints that are not in adjudication, including active complaints that have already been submitted, will use the new air travel complaint process, which does not include the option for adjudication. Read more about the new air travel complaint resolution process.

Before a case begins

After an application is filed, it will be reviewed to make sure it is complete. If there’s information missing, the applicant will be given 20 business days to complete their application. The application must be complete before the dispute proceeding can formally begin.

In some cases, Agency staff may suggest other dispute services, like facilitation or mediation, as an alternative to adjudication.

Stage 1: Pleadings

Pleadings start when notification is sent to the parties that the application is accepted as complete.

This is the evidence and information gathering stage of the dispute proceeding. The parties are given the opportunity to provide the Agency with information in support of their positions on the issues raised in the application.

One or more Members will be assigned to the case – they’re referred to as the Panel. Members are Governor-in-Council appointees who act like judges. At the end of the process, the Panel will make a decision that’s final and binding, just like a decision from a court.

Most cases are resolved through written submissions. There's no need to appear in person before the Panel. 

During this stage, parties can also ask written questions to another party, request that a party produce documents, or make requests related to the process.

In some cases, the Agency may decide to hear the whole or part of a case by way of oral hearing. Find out more in the Procedures and Principles With Respect to Oral Hearings.

A typical pleadings process

1. Application 2. Answer to application 3. Reply to answer

Filed by an applicant.

E.g. Jane files a complaint about XYZ Air Carrier. The Agency reviews the application to see if it’s complete.

For more information, refer to section 18.

Filed by a respondent within 15 business days.

E.g. After determining that the application is complete, the Agency notifies the Jane and XYZ Air Carrier that the pleadings process has started. XYZ Air Carrier has 15 days to submit an answer to Jane's arguments.

For more information, refer to section 19.

Filed by an applicant within 5 business days.

E.g. After receiving XYZ Air Carrier's answer, Jane has 5 days to reply. Once the reply is filed, the pleadings process is usually closed.

For more information, refer to section 20.

If others are interested in a current case, they can file a position statement or a request to intervene. The Agency will consider the input from position statements and and interventions in its decision-making process. An applicant or respondent that is adverse in interest to the intervener may file a response to the intervention.


Stage 2: Deliberations

Deliberations start once the pleadings process has ended and pleadings are closed.

The Panel will consider the arguments of the parties, the evidence that’s been filed, as well as the legislation, regulations and legal principles that apply to the matter. If the Panel needs more information, pleadings can be reopened.

At the end of the process, the Agency Panel will issue a written decision that will contain:

  • a summary of the pleadings, including the arguments of the parties as well as the evidence and other information filed by the parties with their pleadings, and
  • an analysis of the case, along with the Panel’s conclusion, the reasons for its conclusion and any corrective action the Panel decides is appropriate.

The Panel will strive to issue a decision within 85 business days after a complete application is received.

Service standards for adjudication

Performance measure Standard (Business days) Target

Disputes resolved

85 (after the application is accepted as complete)

On average

Complex disputes resolved

65 (after close of pleadings)


After a decision is issued


When the Agency has made a decision and has ordered a party to do something, like put into effect a particular policy that will address an issue raised in the application, the Agency ensures compliance with its order. For example, Agency staff will follow up with the transportation service provider to ensure that the policy is implemented and meets any conditions imposed by the Agency in the final decision. 

Should staff be unable to achieve compliance, an Agency Panel may be assigned to handle this issue directly with the respondent. Alternatively, other enforcement options may be used including enforcing the Agency decision or order as an order of the court and, in some instances, the application of an administrative monetary penalty by a Designated Enforcement Officer.


If the applicant or respondent disagrees with the Agency's decision, an appeal can be filed. 

Learn more about how to file an appeal.

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