BC Apology Act Keeps Roadside Admission Out of Evidence

Section 2 of BC’s Apology Act holds that an apology “does not constitute an express or implied admission of fault or liability by the person in connection with that matter,” and that it “must not be taken into account in any determination of fault or liability in connection with that matter.”  Although this law has existed for several years it has received little judicial attention.  In one of the first cases that I’m aware of addressing this section, reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, relying on this statute.
In this week’s case (Dupre v. Patterson) the parties were involved in a bike/vehicle collision.  Fault was disputed.  After the collision the cyclist apparently apologized to the motorist.  Madam Justice Adair found the motorist solely at fault for the crash and before reaching this conclusion had the following brief comments about the application of the apology act to the cyclist’s roadside statements:
[40]         Defence counsel pointed to some statements made by Ms. Dupre to Ms. Patterson after the accident, when Ms. Dupre apologized.  In view of my conclusion that Ms. Patterson’s negligence caused the accident, I will address this point only very briefly.
[41]         First, it was unclear, based on the submissions, how I was being asked to use Ms. Dupre’s statements and whether they were admissible for the purpose for which they were being tendered.  Secondly, it is clear that an apology made by or on behalf of a person in connection with any matter does not constitute an express or implied admission or acknowledgment of fault or liability:  see the Apology Act, S.B.C. 2006, c. 19, s. 2.
[42]          Ms. Dupre explained that when she spoke to Ms. Patterson after the accident, she was upset and in considerable pain from falling and injuring her shoulder, and she felt embarrassed by the attention the accident had caused.  She did not remember saying anything about having over-extended or pushed herself too far on the bike ride.  Roadside admissions at accident scenes are unreliable, since people tend to be shaken and disorganized.  This describes Ms. Dupre’s situation.  Her statements do not affect my conclusion that Ms. Patterson’s negligence caused the accident.

admissions against interest, Apology Act, bc injury law, Dupre v. Patterson, Madam Justice Adair

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ERIK
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When not writing the BC Injury Law Blog, Erik is the managing partner at MacIsaac & Company, based in Victoria, B.C. He is also involved with combative sports regulatory issues and authors the Combat Sports Law Blog.

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