BC Injury Law and ICBC Claims Blog

Erik MagrakenThis Blog is authored by British Columbia ICBC injury claims lawyer Erik Magraken. Erik is a partner with the British Columbia personal injury law-firm MacIsaac & Company. He restricts his practice exclusively to plaintiff-only personal injury claims with a particular emphasis on ICBC injury claims involving orthopaedic injuries and complex soft tissue injuries. Please visit often for the latest developments in matters concerning BC personal injury claims and ICBC claims

Erik Magraken does not work for and is not affiliated in any way with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). Please note that this blog is for information only and is not claim-specific legal advice.  Erik can only provide legal advice to clients. Please click here to arrange a free consultation.

Posts Tagged ‘Rule 15-1(15)(a)’

Full Rule 15 Costs Apply Where”Significant Preparation For Trial” Undertaken – TAF is Recoverable Disbrursement

July 29th, 2013

Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Nanaimo Registry addressing two important topics; the assessment of costs for fast track actions when they settle before trial and the recoverability of Trust Administration Fees as a disbursement.

In last week’s case (Christen v. McKenzie) the Plaintiff settled his ICBC claim after litigation was well underway for specified damages plus “costs payable“.  The parties couldn’t agree on these with the Plaintiff seeking full Rule 15 costs and ICBC arguing that a lesser amount should be paid because “a number of pre-trial steps involving a substantial amount of work were still required to be performed as the case settled seven -and-a-half months prior to the commencement of trial“.  Madam Justice Arnold-Bailey awarded the full cap noting that while the trial was a ways off significant trial preparation steps were undertaken and this was sufficient to trigger the Rule 15 cap. The Court provided the following reasons:

[35]         To my mind significant preparation for trial ought to be sufficient to entitle the successful party to costs for pre-trial preparation to the full amount of the cap, presently $6,500 pursuant to Rule 15-1(15). Pre-trial preparation may take various forms given the demands of the particular action. Whether the parties engage in extensive negotiations or mediation and thus achieve a settlement months or days before trial, the preparation by counsel may easily approach that required to actually conduct the trial. The focus ought to be on the amount of useful preparatory work done and not where in the pre-trial timeline the resolution was reached. Indeed, the focus of Rule 15-1 and the Civil Rules generally is to encourage early and fulsome preparation to resolve cases earlier as opposed to later if possible; and also to limit the scope of the proposed trial to what is truly at issue, thus reducing the time and costs associated with resolving the dispute.

[36]         In the present case it is clear that the matter was substantially prepared to the level necessary to achieve a significant settlement prior to trial. While there may be fast track cases where a review of the costs amount claimed for preparation is warranted, this is not one. However one dissects and analyzes what was done or not done to prepare this case for trial, a considerable amount of preparation was performed by plaintiff’s counsel to achieve the sizable settlement. Extensive and protracted negotiations, such as occurred here, ought not to be regarded as requiring significantly less preparation than preparing a case for mediation or trial. Indeed, such negotiations are to be encouraged as the most cost‑effective way of dealing with cases that would otherwise proceed to trial. The efficacy of conducting a fast track action ought not to be undermined by a costs analysis that bogs down in the picayune.

The Court also noted that a Trust Administration fee is a fair disbursement a successful litigant can claim. Madam Justice Arnold-Bailey provided the following comments addressing this:

37]         I note that the plaintiff’s claim for the trust administration fee of $10 plus $1.20 in taxes is not now disputed by the defendant McKenzie and the third party. The following authorities support it being claimed:Parrotta v. Bodnar, 2006 BCSC 787 at para. 25; Polubinski v. Twardowski, 2007 BCSC 843; and McCreight v. Currie, 2008 BCSC 1751. Therefore the plaintiff’s claim for $11.20 in relation to the trust administration fee (including tax) is successful.

"Compelling Facts and Circumstances" Required to Depart from Rule 15 Pre-Trial Settlement Cap

January 7th, 2013

Further to my previous posts on this topic, reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, confirming that when a Rule 15 matter settles pre-trial and the settlement agreement incorporates costs, these should be assessed at $6,500 unless there are compelling facts and circumstances.

In the recent case (Ostadsaraie v. Shokri) the Plaintiff settled his claim 55 days prior to the scheduled trial and also prior to his Trial Management Conference.   The Plaintiff sought $6,500 in costs and Registrar Cameron agreed this amount was appropriate   After canvassing the relevant authorities the Court provided the following reasons:

[8]             In this case, Ms Neathway had done a substantial amount of preparation and delivered a settlement offer that resulted in a settlement of the case some 55 days before trial. There was a housekeeping matter left to be done, a trial management conference – but given the settlement, it did not occur.

[9]             Ms Neathway had delivered all of her expert reports and had prepared and completed all of the discovery in readiness for trial. She was frank to say that she would have needed to interview again one or more of the witnesses that would be called at trial and of course complete the final preparations for her client to give his evidence at trial. Nonetheless, a substantial amount of the preparation had in fact been completed by the time the settlement was made and in the circumstances it is appropriate to award the plaintiff the full amount of the cap…

Costs Update: More on Rule 15 and Pre Trial Settlement Costs

July 18th, 2012

Last year reasons for judgement were released discussing the lump sum costs available to parties under Rule 15.  Reasons for judgement were recently published by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, finding that the quantum pre trial Rule 15 settlement costs should remain a matter of discretion.

In the recent case (Benz v. Coxe) the parties settled a personal injury claim for an undisclosed quantum plus costs.  The parties could not agree to the amount of costs and the issue was put before the Court.  Ultimately Registrar Sainty held $6,5000 was an appropriate quantum of costs on the facts of the case (settled in the mature phase of litigation) but held that no hard and fast rule should exist making this amount appropriate across the board.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:

[15] I appreciate the submissions of counsel. I have found those of Mr. Jeffrey to be more persuasive than those of Mr. Cope. I am going to continue to support my decision in Cathcart No.1 for a variety of reasons.

[16] Firstly, I think it is important to note, as Harvey J. confirmed in Gill v. Widjaja, supra, that Rule 15-1(15) gives the Registrar wide discretion in determining the appropriate tariff amount. If I were to accede to Mr. Cope’s submission — that in every case you get the cap unless there are special circumstances — I believe that, would be taking away from the discretion given to the Registrar to make these types of decisions.

[17] Secondly, I think Mr. Cope’s approach, rather than taking away from confusion, makes matters more confusing. I do not think one can draw a line in the sand and decide, for example, that where there has been discovery and there are no other special circumstances, you get the cap. However, If there has been no discovery and there are no other special circumstances (yet to be decided and which must be argued), you will probably get some proportion of the cap. One might still end up in the same position. Because whether you call it special circumstances, parsing out, or rough and ready, the parties will still end up assessing costs before a registrar who would then decide where the case was, in terms of preparedness, and who would also have to decide if there are (or are not) special circumstances such that the cap or something less might be awarded.

[18] I agree with Mr. Jeffrey, who submitted that the fairest approach in these types of circumstances is to consider all of the circumstances of the action. I also agree that the fact Harvey J. says one should not get bogged down in the details does not take away from the rough and ready approach, which is actually more fair, I think, to all the parties, because to make discoveries, say, the arbitrary line in the sand could result in some injustices. For example, there may be those odd circumstances where no discoveries have been conducted and were set for a week or two before trial for some reason or other. In those circumstances, using Mr. Cope’s “line in the sand”, a plaintiff might have to apply to a registrar to find special circumstance so that they might get the full cap amount (or something approximating it) if the case settled before the discoveries had been conducted but still, essentially, on the eve of trial.

[19] On the basis of all of the above, I stand by my decision in Cathcart No.1.

More on Rule 15 and Pre Trial Costs Assessments

February 23rd, 2012

Last year Master Baker released reasons for judgement assessing pre-trial settlement costs of a Rule 15 lawsuit at $6,500.  Today reasons for judgement were released upholding this analysis finding no error was made in such an assessment.

In today’s case (Gill v. Widjaja) Mr. Justice Harvey provided the following reasons upholding the Master’s decision:

[47] I turn now to the matter of the tariff fees allowed by Master Baker of the $6,500 in costs.

[48] Rule 15-1(15) reads:

(15) Unless the court otherwise orders or the parties consent, and subject to Rule 14-1(10), the amount of costs, exclusive of disbursements, to which a party to a fast track action is entitled is as follows:

(a)  if the time spent on the hearing of the trial is one day or less, $8,000;

(b) if the time spent on the hearing of the trial is 2 days or less but more than one day, $9 500;

(c) if the time spent on the hearing of the trial is more than 2 days, $11 000.

[49] The Rule, as written, gives the registrar wide discretion in determining the appropriate tariff amount.  Master Baker was aware of the steps taken in the litigation and the date of settlement relative to the trial date.

[50] Having regard to the aforementioned test that I must apply, I am not of the view that an error in principle has been demonstrated nor do I find that the master was clearly wrong in his determination that the appropriate cost of tariff amount was $6,500.

[51] The express purpose of Rule 15-1 is to streamline the process both for trial and, presumably, taxation of costs.  Parsing out the details in each action where the amounts do not apply is not, in my view, the proper course.  Indeed, were it, in this action there was a settlement conference which no doubt necessitated some significant preparation, much like trial preparation, and, as well, a trial management conference.  Each of those events resulted in discussions leading to the settlement of this matter.

[52] In those circumstances I find no error in principle such as to interfere with the finding of the master.

Rule 15-1 and Pre Trial Settlement Costs

July 18th, 2011

Useful reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Chilliwack Registry, addressing costs consequences when fast track cases settle prior to the first day of trial.  In short the Court held that the rules operate to fix lump sum costs of $6,500 in these circumstances.

In today’s case (Gill v. Widjaja) the Plaintiff was injured in a collision.  The Plaintiff sued pursuant to Rule 15.  ICBC made a formal settlement offer of $34,800 plus assessable costs and disbursements.  Following this the parties could not agree on some of the disbursement items.  The matter was ultimately put before the Court and in adjudicating the dispute Master Baker confirmed that costs under Rule 15 are set via lump sum.  Specifically the Court provided the following useful reasons:

[16] Tariff amount and Rule 15-1. The real question is: how much should the fee mandated by Rule 15-1, when the matter is settled without trial, be further affected by preparation or lack thereof?  Counsel agree that the starting sum is $8,000.00 and that, since no trial proceeded, there should be a reduction of one day’s costs ($1,500.00). After that they disagree. Mr. Cope says there should be the equivalent of one-half day’s trial cost added back in for trial preparation. Ms. Tonge says $2,000.00 should be further deducted. Certainly, the Rule permits departure from the indicated amount, as it is prefaced with “Unless the court otherwise orders…”.

[17] I start with the assumption that, once the portion attributed to the first day of trial is deducted, the balance is allocated to preparation. It would take compelling facts and circumstances to depart from that simple principle. And that simple principle should be applied when one recalls that the costs provisions of Rule 15-1 are intended to be summary in nature and to avoid assessments such as this. Counsel referred me to other authorities considering and, in effect, parsing pre-trial proceedings, but those cases seem to apply to situations where Rule 37 or 37B offers were made and either accepted or refused. In those cases, of course, it became important to mark the point in the proceedings when the offer was made and to then invoke the Rules’ effects on costs for the proceedings thereafter. In such a case it would require that some assessment be made of the degree of preparation done at the point of the offer. This is not that case.

[18] Mr. Cope argued that Ms. Gill was due some allowance for preparation, yet the tariff items in his bill included Item 17 “All process and correspondence associated with retaining and consulting all experts…” and Item 18 “All process and correspondence associated with contacting, interviewing and issuing subpoenas to all witnesses”. While the items do not apply per se, as Rule 15-1(15)’s omnibus cap does instead, Mr. Cope obviously considered all of that to include most, if not all, of the usual allowable stages of preparation. His draft in the form presented is a tacit admission of that. Moreover, as Ms. Tonge pointed out, there is no evidence of any unusual preparation having occurred before the offer was made and accepted.

[19] Similarly, there is no basis to take the reverse view and conclude that, given the matter settled seven weeks before trial, that no, or substantially no, preparation would have taken place. Quite the contrary: it is clear that Mr. Cope took the usual steps to obtain and organize the evidence he would need to that point and that those preparations were sufficient that he and Ms. Gill were prepared to settle.

[20] In the end there is no basis for any intervention by me, either to deduct or add in, respecting preparation costs. The only deduction from the fast track capped cost will be $1,500.00 representing the first day of trial.

[21] In sum, then, the fee portion of Ms. Gill’s bill of costs is fixed at $6,500.00