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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 7-5’

No Pre Trial Examination Ordered For Witness Willing to Talk Through Counsel

March 25th, 2015

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, finding that a witness who is willing to communicate through counsel should not be compelled to attend a pre-trial examination under oath.

In today’s case (Cabezas v. HMTQ) the Plaintiff was involved in a single vehicle accident and sued the Defendants claiming negligent highway maintenance.  In the course of the lawsuit the Plaintiff attempted to speak with and the “Capilano defendants provided a summary of the evidence Mr. Colville was expected to give should the matter proceed to trial. She stated further: “to the extent that you still wish to speak to Mr. Colville, he has asked that this be arranged through us and that we be present.

The Plaintiff brought an application to compel pre trial examination under oath of this witness but this was dismissed with the Court noting that a witness willing to speak through counsel is indeed being responsive.  In reaching this conclusion Master Harper provided the following reasons:

[4]             Rule 7-5(1) provides as follows:

(1) If a person who is not a party of record to an action may have material evidence relating to a matter in question in the action, the court may:

(a) order that the person be examined on oath on the matters in question in the action, and

(b) either before or after the examination, order that the examining party pay reasonable lawyer’s costs of the person relating to the application and the examination…

[11]         Rule 7-5 sets out a protocol which must be followed before an application for an order for a pre-trial examination of a witness can be made. The applicant must establish that the proposed witness has refused or neglected on request by the applicant to give a responsive statement either orally or in writing relating to the witness’ knowledge of the matter in question or has given conflicting statements (Rule 7-5(3)(c)(i) and (ii)).

[12]         The fact that the witness has chosen to communicate through counsel does not amount to a refusal to give a responsive statement (Rintoul v. Granger, 2008 BCSC 1852 at para. 24).

[13]          Mr. Colville is agreeable to attending an interview in the presence of counsel.


Parties of Record Have Standing To Address Pre Trial Witness Examination Orders

November 19th, 2014

Reasons for judgement were released this week (Brooks v. Abbey Adelaide Holdings Inc.) considering the procedural question of whether a party of record has standing to make submissions during an opposing party’s application for an order compelling the pre-trial examination of a witness.  In short the Court held that all parties of record have standing to make submissions during these applications although the standing is limited.  In reaching this decision Master Young provided the following reasons:

[1]             THE COURT:  I have been asked to decide whether a party to an action has standing in a hearing of an application by another party to examine a witness prior to trial under Rule 7-5 of our new Supreme Court Civil Rules.

[2]             Apparently there is no authority on this point under the new Civil Rules..

[12]         I find that the party has a right to make submissions on the scope and the duration of the examination as it relates to relevance and proportionality.

[13]         So I find that they have limited standing. They do not have standing to object to a witness being questioned, because I think that infringes the common law right of property to a witness. But I do find that they do have standing to address procedural issues, proportionality issues and issues of privilege.

[14]         Having said that then, I will allow the plaintiff to make submissions of the application.


Case Plan Conference Orders Can't Trump Privilege

March 7th, 2013

Last year I highlighted a decision confirming that the Court’s powers under the new rules of court don’t allow orders to be made which will trump legitimate privilege claims.  Reasons for judgement were released earlier this month by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, confirming this principle.

In the recent case (Blackwell v. Kwok) the Defendant sought an order at a Case Planning Conference requiring the Plaintiff to disclose the specialty of the expert witness(es) the Plaintiff intends to rely on.  The Court refused to make this order finding it would trump the privilege in the Plaintiff’s counsel’s solicitor’s brief.  In dismissing the request Mr. Justice Funt provided the following reasons:

[11]         Plaintiff’s counsel referred me to the Court’s decision in Nowe v. Bowerman, 2012 BCSC 1723.  In Nowe, the defendant proposed that each party be limited to one expert each and that the plaintiff advise the defendant of the area of expertise by November 17, 2012, approximately ten months before the scheduled trial.  The Court denied the application:

[10]  The area of expertise of an intended expert witness is a matter of trial strategy.  Trial strategy is a key component of a solicitor’s brief.  It may well evolve as plaintiff’s counsel builds a case and makes decisions based upon a myriad of factors and considerations.  Intentions may change as the process unfolds over time.

[11]  In my view, unless and until the intention to rely upon a particular expert in a particular field is declared by delivery of a report in accordance with the timelines established by the Rules, in the absence of a compelling reason an early incursion into this aspect of the solicitor’s brief will not be justified.

[12]  That being said, there may well be cases in which a departure from the usual timelines can be justified.  For example, in complex cases such as those involving brain injuries as a matter of fairness it may be necessary to provide defence counsel with a longer period than would be available under the usual regime in order to schedule appointments with certain kinds of experts. …

[12]         I note that in Nowe, the plaintiff argued that it was “not the kind of case in which a long period is required in advance of an appointment being made with a certain type of expert” (para. 7).  Although possibly a longer period may be justified in some cases, I am not satisfied that a “departure from the usual timelines can be justified” in the case at bar.

[13]         In my view, the defendants’ application should be rejected.  I see no prejudice if the normal rules for delivery of expert reports apply.  If the defendants choose to retain an expert to conduct an independent medical examination and prepare a report based on the plaintiff’s pleaded injuries, but no psychological injury is alleged at trial, an appropriate award of costs will afford the defendants the necessary relief.

[14]         Not surprisingly, I cannot state matters better than Chief Justice McEachern in Hodgkinson: “While I favour full disclosure in proper circumstances, it will be rare, if ever, that the need for disclosure will displace privilege”.

[15]         The Court declines to make the order sought.

 


BC's New Rules of Court Don't Trump Solicitor's Brief Privilege

November 13th, 2012

Earlier this year I highlighted two  judgements (here and here) discussing that the New Rules of Court don’t allow the Court to override solicitor’s privilege.  Further reasons for judgement were recently released by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, confirming this principle.

In the recent case (Nowe v. Bowerman) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2008 motor vehicle collision and sued for damages.  The Defendant set down a Case Planning Conference asking for an order that “Plaintiff’s counsel advise the defence of the areas of expertise of his proposed experts“.

Madam Justice Dickson dismissed this request finding it would infringe on solicitor’s brief privilege.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:

[10]  The area of expertise of an intended expert witness is a matter of trial strategy.  Trial strategy is a key component of a solicitor’s brief.  It may well evolve as plaintiff’s counsel builds a case and makes decisions based upon a myriad of factors and considerations.  Intentions may change as the process unfolds over time.

[11]  In my view, unless and until the intention to rely upon a particular expert in a particular field is declared by delivery of a report in accordance with the timelines established by the Rules, in the absence of a compelling reason an early incursion into this aspect of the solicitor’s brief will not be justified.

[12]  That being said, there may well be cases in which a departure from the usual timelines can be justified.  For example, in complex cases such as those involving brain injuries as a matter of fairness it may be necessary to provide defence counsel with a longer period than would be available under the usual regime in order to schedule appointments with certain kinds of experts.  In this case, however, I am unable to identify such a compelling reason.  In these circumstances, I decline to make the order sought.

To my knowledge these reasons for judgement are not publicly available but, as always, I’m happy to provide a copy to anyone who contacts me and requests one.


Court Can't "Ride Roughshod" Over Solicitor's Brief Privilege At a Case Planning Conference

December 16th, 2011

Reasons for judgement were recently brought to my attention discussing the scope of powers of the Court at Case Planning Conferences. Specifically the Court found that Rule 5-3 does not provide the power to over-ride common law principles of privilege.

In the recent case (Galvon v. Hopkins) the Plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle collision. She sued for damages. As the lawsuit progressed the Plaintiff did not provide any expert medico-legal evidence to the Defendant.

This concerned the Defendant who brought a Case Planning Conference and obtained an order requiring the Plaintiff to “notify counsel for the defendant of the name of the neurologist with whom the appointment had been made and the date of the appointment, and secondly, that the parties were to provide opposing counsel with written notice forthwith upon any appointment being set for the plaintiff with medical experts, such notice to include the name of the expert, the expertise of the expert, and the date of the appointment“.

The Plaintiff appealed arguing that the Court did not have jurisdiction to make such orders under the Rules of Court. Madam Justice Kloegman agreed and allowed the appeal. In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:

21. I agree with counsel for the plaintiff’s submission that Rule 5-3 cannot be read as to allow the Case Planning Conference Judge or Master to disregard the common law principle of privilege.

22. In my view, Master Bouck was fixated upon settlement of the litigation; always a commendable and important goal of a case planning conference, but not at the cost of ignoring the boundaries of her jurisdiction. It may well be that such information could have been exchanged at a settlement conference, which is a voluntary and without prejudice process, but it should not be mandated as part of trial preparation.

23. …She did not appear to consider that the object of the Rules to avoid trial by ambush only apply to evidence that would be used at trial, not to expert advice received through consultation.

24. By requiring the plaintiff to disclose the very fact of her attendance before a medical expert, and run the risk of an adverse inference if she did not call the expert at trial, the master was also interfering with the plaintiff’s right to elect which witnesses to call. Such interference is not sanctioned, or warranted, I might add, by our Supreme Court Rules.

25. Having concluded that our Rules do not grant the presider at a case planning conference the power to make the orders made by Master Bouck, it follows that she did not have the jurisdiciton to do so.

26. The appeal is allowed and Master Bouck’s orders will be set aside.