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"What's This Lawsuit All About?" Examination For Discovery Caselaw Update

In my ongoing efforts to archive BC caselaw addressing examinations for discovery, reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC supreme Court, Prince George Registry, discussing the scope of permissible questions.

In this week’s case (Manojlovic v. Currie) the parties were involved in litigation with respect to a purchase and sale agreement relating to lakeshore property.   In the course of the lawsuit the Defendant was examined for discovery during which time he was asked to “tell me in your own words what this lawsuit is all about“.

The Defendant objected arguing this question was inappropriate.  Mr. Justice Tindale disagreed and concluded this question was fair game.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:

13] The tone of the examination for discovery was set by Mr. Hall, counsel for the defendants William Richard Currie and Patsy Arlene Currie, at the beginning of the examination.  Mr. Dungate asked the defendant William Richard Currie the following:

9 Q      One of the things I want to accomplish today, Dr. Currie, is I’d like to better understand this lawsuit from your perspective and your wife’s, so perhaps you can tell me in your own words what the lawsuit is about.

Mr. Hall:           Stop. That’s not the process, Mr. Dungate. You ask questions; he answers them.

10 Q    Mr. Dungate: This is my examination for discovery. I’m asking the questions. I just asked Dr. Currie to explain to me what the lawsuit is about. So, what’s the lawsuit about, Dr. Currie?

[14] The plaintiff wishes to ask questions relating to the pleadings in these proceedings. These types of questions were objected to during the examination for discovery. However, Mr. Wright, who was Mr. Hall’s agent for this application, is not opposed to these types of questions but rather argues that they should not relate to questions of law, or questions that had already been asked and answered at examination for discovery.

[15] In my view, the questions asked by Mr. Dungate relating to the pleadings were appropriate. I also agree with Mr. Wright that these types of questions should not relate to questions of law…

[21] An examination for discovery is similar to cross-examination at trial. The plaintiff, in this case, should have been given a wide latitude to explore the relevant issues in the time allotted by the Rules. The Plaintiff was not able to do this on many of the issues that he was trying to explore.

[22] I order that the defendant William Richard Currie shall attend and submit to a further examination for discovery which will have a maximum duration of four hours. This examination for discovery shall be set in consultation with counsel for the plaintiff and counsel for the defendant William Richard Currie.

[23] I order that the plaintiff will be at liberty to ask questions relating to the “pleadings” and the letter marked as “Exhibit 29” at the examination for discovery held on March 9, 2012.

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