Fact Sheet - At a Glance: The Specific Claims Tribunal Act

The Specific Claims Tribunal Act received Royal Assent in June 2008 and came into effect on October 16, 2008. The legislation created an independent tribunal with the power to make binding decisions on the validity of and compensation for specific claims. The Tribunal is a key part of an overall action plan to improve and speed up the resolution of specific claims across the country.

Main Elements of the Legislation

Developed jointly with the Assembly of First Nations, the legislation established an independent adjudicative body called the Specific Claims Tribunal. Subject to the conditions set out in the Specific Claims Tribunal Act, there are four scenarios in which a First Nation may opt to file a claim with the Tribunal:

Tribunal Structure & Appointments

The independent Tribunal is made up of judges who come from the existing bench of experienced superior court judges in the provinces. These individuals are appointed in accordance with the current process for judicial appointments to tribunals, which requires the consent of the judge in question, as well as his or her Chief Justice.

Efficient Claim Submissions

As required by the legislation, a Minimum Standard for claims submissions was established and came into effect on October 16, 2008. Discussions on this Minimum Standard took place with the Assembly of First Nations in the summer of 2008. The Minimum Standard requires that claim submissions are presented in a particular form and contain certain kinds of information. In order for a claim submission to be filed with the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, it must meet the Minimum Standard.

Tighter Timelines

The Act also introduced a new accountability tool – time frames. First Nations may go to the Tribunal if Canada fails to complete its assessment of a claim and advise the First Nation whether the claim will be accepted for negotiation within three years of it being filed with the Minister, or if a final settlement has not been reached after a further three years of negotiation.

The three-year assessment period starts as soon as the claim submission is filed with the Minister. The three-year negotiation period begins on the day the Minister notifies a First Nation that their claim has been accepted for negotiations.

Accountability & Reporting

The Tribunal issues annual reports to keep the government and all Canadians up to date on its activities. It is fully accountable to Parliament for its expenditures as well as its operations.

Quick Facts on Specific Claims

Quick Facts About the Tribunal


Guidelines for Funding Claims at the Specific Claims Tribunal of Canada


    Contribution funding to support First Nation participation in the processes of the Specific Claims Tribunal of Canada (Tribunal), is provided each year by a Parliamentary allocation. There is, therefore, no guarantee that funds will be available for all requests or that all eligible expenses will be supported. Funding will be provided annually on a case by case basis. While funding for participation in proceedings of the Tribunal will not be provided through multi-year agreements, every effort will be made to accommodate First Nations who are participating at the Tribunal across two fiscal years.

    The responsibility for determining First Nation funding levels, administering funds, and monitoring Aboriginal Recipient Funding Agreements (Agreements) under this funding program rests with the Funding Services for Aboriginal Governance and Negotiations Unit (FSAGNU).

    All funding requests related to the Tribunal proceedings must be approved prior to any costs being incurred. If prior approval is not received then First Nations must be prepared to take responsibility for the costs since FSAGNU cannot fund expenditures that a First Nation incurs outside of FSAGNU guidelines.

    The provision of contribution funding for the participation in the process of the Tribunal is subject to the Specific Claims Tribunal Act, s.13(2), which states that:  "The Tribunal shall deduct from any award of costs in favour of the claimant, any amount provided to the claimant by the Crown for the purpose of bringing the claim before the Tribunal."

    These guidelines are subject to change and will evolve with the Tribunal and to meet the needs of  First Nations participating at the Tribunal.

    Contribution Funding will be provided to First Nations to enable them to carryout activities required to present their claim to the Tribunal.

    Each contribution shall be subject to a signed Agreement or an Amendment to an existing Agreement between the Minister and a respective First Nation.

    All eligible recipients receiving funding under an Agreement shall provide financial reports, progress reports and an audited financial statement as required under the terms and conditions of each Agreement.

    Efforts are being made to expedite the flow of funding to participants, however, if there will be difficulties given timing, a First Nation or its duly delegated representative is encouraged to contact the respective funding officer to remedy any delays.
  3. ELIGIBLE EXPENSES Footnote 1, Footnote 2

    All funding support will be provided based on an approved descriptive budget. All eligible expenses should be reasonable and consistent with activities required to comply with the Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Tribunal.

    Examples of eligible expenses include, but are not limited to the following:

    • Attending Tribunal proceedings such as:
      • Case Management Conference(s)
      • Pre-Hearing Conference(s)
      • Hearing(s)
      • Oral Examinations
    • Legal expenses relating to Tribunal proceedings such as:
      • Case Management Conference(s)
      • Pre-Hearing Conference(s)
      • Hearing(s)
      • Oral Examinations
      • Preparation of witnesses
      • Preparation and review of documentation
    • Expenses relating to witness and interpreters who attend Tribunal proceedings such as:
      • Case Management Conference(s)
      • Pre-Hearing Conference(s)
      • Hearing(s)
      • Oral Examinations

    Non-eligible expenses include, but are not limited to:
    • Research (e.g.: legal, historical etc) that was previously funded;

    Requests for funding must be made in the format of a descriptive budget, which contains a reasonable breakdown of anticipated expenses such as:

    • Fees, specifically the daily rate and the expected number of days for each participant (e.g.: First Nation, legal, witness, interpreter);
    • Travel expenses for each participant (e.g.: First Nation, Legal, Witness, interpreter);
    • The expected proceedings that an expense is for (e.g.: the number of case management conferences, a pre-hearing conference, the number of expected hearings, oral examinations, etc.).
    Requests must be accompanied by evidence of a claim having been referred to the Tribunal, for example, a copy of the Declaration of Claim and the acknowledgement of recipient from the Tribunal.

    Requests for funding should be sent to:

    Kevin Clement
    Negotiation Support Directorate
    Policy Development and Coordination Branch
    Treaties and Aboriginal Government
    10 Wellington Street, Room 8G1
    Gatineau QC
    K1A 0H4

    Fax (819) 953-2198
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