The Contractual Nature of Accepted Formal Settlement Offers
As previously discussed, when a formal settlement offer dealing with costs consequences is accepted the BC Supreme Court had no discretion to make a different order with respect to costs. Reasons for judgement were released this week confirming this principle.
In this week’s case (Tomas v. Mackie) the Defendant made a formal settlement offer $77,400. The offer included the usual term that, if accepted, the Plaintiff would be entitled to reasonable costs and disbursements up to the date of the offer and the Defendant would be entitled to their costs and disbursements from that time onward.
The Plaintiff accepted the offer 13 days after it was derived. During this period further costs were incurred. The Plaintiff argued that the Defendant should be responsible for these as the Plaintiff should have the benefit of a reasonable period of time to consider the offer. District Registrar Cameron was sympathetic to this argument but ultimately disagreed noting there is no judicial discretion to deviate from the terms of the accepted formal offer. In reaching this conclusion the Court provided the following reasons:
 Mr. Loewen submitted that the acceptance of the settlement offer constituted a binding agreement and as a result the court has no discretion to vary the terms of that agreement under Rule 9-1 or 14-1 of theSupreme Court Civil Rules.
 Mr. Loewen referred to a number of authorities in support of his argument that clearly were not before Registrar Sainty…
 Applying these authorities, it is clear that I do not have the discretion to vary the terms of the settlement agreement made by the parties and they should obtain a date from the Registry for the assessment of both the Plaintiff’s and the Defendants’ costs pursuant to Rule 14-1 of the Supreme Court Civil Rules.