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Chambers Advocacy: Legal Authorities To Be Disclosed in Notice of Application

One of the ongoing trends in civil litigation is a trend to greater pre-trial disclosure.  Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, addressing this principle finding that caselaw should be disclosed ahead of Chambers Applications to avoid “chambers by ambush“.
Last week’s case (De Corde v. De Corde) involved a motor vehicle collision.  The Defendant brought a short notice application to compel the Plaintiff to be assessed by a psychiatrist.  The application was dismissed and in doing so Master Bouck provided the following feedback about case-law disclosure for Chambers applications:

[65] The defence took exception to plaintiff’s counsel relying on authorities that were not cited in the response to the notice of application. In fact, the plaintiff makes no reference to any case law in her response. In contrast, the defendants prepared a comprehensive notice of application – including a synopsis of the legal basis for the application with reference to all of the authorities presented in oral argument.

[66] The defence position is not without merit. Both the notice of application and response under the SCCR invite a party to provide a thoughtful written synopsis of legal argument. A properly prepared notice of application or response ensures that the opposing party knows the argument to be met. Thus, there should be no longer be occasion for “chambers by ambush”.

[67] Indeed, in my view, it should be only in the rare instance that a party will surprise the other by citing in oral argument authorities not mentioned in these forms.

[68] Nonetheless, an application brought on short notice would seem to me to be one of those rare instances. Plaintiff’s counsel should not be faulted for any apparent omission in a response necessarily prepared on the eve of the application.

bc injury law, De Corde v. De Corde, Form 32, Master Bouck, Rule 8, Rule 8-1, Rule 8-1(16), Rule 8-1(4)