Amending Pleadings and the New Rules of Court
The first case that I’m aware of dealing with amendments of pleadings under the New Rules of Court was released earlier this week. In short the Court held that the new Rules don’t change the law with respect to the Court’s discretion in permitting amendments.
In this week’s case (BRZ Holdings Inc. v. JER Envirotech International Corp.,) the Plaintiff sued various defendants for losses caused by alleged fraudulent or negligent misrepresentation. As trial approached the Plaintiff sought significant amendments to their pleadings. The Defendant opposed these arguing the changes would cause prejudice. Mr. Justice Smith ultimately allowed most of the proposed amendments and in doing so provided the following useful reasons confirming the New Rules did not alter the law with respect to amendments of pleadings:
6] Amendments to pleadings are now governed by Rule 6-1 of the Supreme Court Civil Rules, B.C. Reg. 168/ 2009 [Rules], which is similar to the former rule 24 in that amendments at this stage of the proceedings require leave of the court. Cases decided under the former rule make clear that amendments will usually be allowed unless the opposite party can demonstrate actual, as opposed to potential, prejudice, or unless the amendments would be useless: Langret Investments S.A. v. McDonnell (1996), 21 B.C.L.R. (3d) 145 (C.A.) at paras. 34 and 43. The court’s discretion is “completely unfettered and subject only to the general rule that all such discretion is to be exercised judicially, in accordance with the evidence adduced and such guidelines as may appear from the authorities” [emphasis added]: Teal Cedar Products v. Dale Intermediaries Ltd. (1996), 19 B.C.L.R. (3d) 282 (C.A.) at para. 45. Nothing in the new Rules suggests any change in the court’s approach.