BC Injury Law and ICBC Claims Blog

Court Orders Part 7 Action Discovery Transcripts Disclosable in Tort Action

Reasons for judgement were released recently by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, allowing a Defendant in a tort action to gain access to a Plaintiff’s examination for discovery transcript from a related Part 7 action.

In the recent case (Gill v. Gill) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2009 collision and sued for damages.  She also sued ICBC for allegedly denying benefits owing under her own policy of insurance.  ICBC defended both actions but appointed separate lawyers to do so.  The Plaintiff was examined for discovery in both lawsuits.  Subsequent to this the Defendant in the tort action applied for a copy of the transcript from the Part 7 action discovery.  Madam Justice Adair held it was appropriate to lift the implied undertaking of confidentiality and ordered disclosure.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:

[20]         Ms. Simon is correct that the underlying causes of action in the Tort Action and the Part 7 Action are different.  In that sense, the issues are different.  She also points out, correctly, that the two actions cannot be consolidated for trial or heard together by virtue of s. 83(4) of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act, and Part 7 benefits are not to be referred to at the trial of the Tort Action.  Moreover, a determination with respect to entitlement to Part 7 benefits does not bind the court in the Tort Action.

[21]         However, there are, without any doubt, overlapping factual issues in the two actions, including:

(a)      was Ms. Gill injured in the accident and, if so, what injuries did she sustain as a result;

(b)      was Ms. Gill unable to work as a result of the injuries sustained in the accident; and

(c)      has Ms. Gill incurred expenses in relation to medical and rehabilitative treatment as a result of injuries sustained in the accident.

[22]¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Although the causes of action are different, key factual issues will be the same in both actions.¬† Ms. Gill must establish injury, causation and loss arising out of the same event, namely, the accident on April 5, 2009.¬† If, in stating that “the issues are sufficiently different and discrete,” the Master was referring to¬†factual¬†issues in each action, then, in my opinion, the Master was clearly wrong, because many factual issues in the two actions are obviously very closely related, if not identical.

[23]         Ms. Gill, as the plaintiff in both actions, can be compelled to testify in both the Tort Action and the Part 7 Action about the same factual issues, so there is no privacy issue that needs to be protected.

[24]         On the other hand, there is a compelling public interest in getting at the truth.  As Mr. Justice Hood observed in Scuzzy Creek Hydro & Power Inc. v. Tercon Contractors Ltd. (1998), 62 B.C.L.R. (3d) 366 (S.C.), 1998 CanLII 5684, at paragraph 22:

[I]t is the possibility of there being inconsistent statements which triggers the special reason for the production of the discovery transcript. ¬†The test over the years . . . has never been higher than ‚Äúlets see what the witness had to say under oath before with regard to these or related matters‚ÄĚ. ¬†What [the witness] has said may be relevant to the evidence [the witness] gives in the second action.

[25]¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Accordingly, here, the defendant has demonstrated the existence of a public interest of greater weight than the values (privacy, and the efficient conduct of litigation) the implied undertaking is designed to protect…

[31]¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†In summary, the defendant’s appeal is allowed and the defendant’s application to use the discovery transcript from the Part 7 Action in this action is granted.

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