Costs Ordered Following "Unnecessary" Defence Case Planning Conference

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, addressing when Case Planning Conferences are unnecessary and finding that a costs order is appropriate in the face of such a CPC.
In today’s case (Stewart v. Robinson) the Plaintiff was involved in a collision and sued for damages.  The Defendant set down a CPC seeking an order requiring the Plaintiff to reveal the “the areas of expertise” of the experts the Plaintiff would rely on at trial.  The Defendant also sought a few collateral orders such updated lists of documents and timelines for discoveries.  The Court held that the first order was one the Court had no jurisdiction to make and that the further orders were unnecessary given that the Plaintiff was fulfilling their disclosure duties under the Rules of Court.
Master Bouck dismissed the Defendant’s application and in doing so found it was an uncessary hearing and ordered that costs be paid.  In reaching this result the Court provided the following reasons:
[25]         Rule 5-3 (3) requires the court to make a case plan order following a CPC. In my view, that requirement presumes that the CPC served some purpose…
[28]         The plaintiff submits that the sole purpose of the case planning conference was an attempt by the defence to ferret out information about the plaintiff’s experts even though such a purpose is contrary to well-established law. The plaintiff also cites Galvon v. Hopkins, 2011 BCSC 1835, and Amezcua v. Norlander, 2012 BCSC 719 (Master)…
[34]         Read together, the above authorities stand for these propositions:
1.  rules of civil procedure do not trump substantive law, including the principle of litigation privilege;
2.  a party is not required to reveal, in a case plan proposal or order or otherwise, the name of any expert or the area of expertise of any intended expert before the 84-day deadline for the service of expert reports; but
3.  the court may order that the service requirements under Rule 11-6 (3) be abridged such that expert reports are to be served earlier than the 84 days before trial. Such an order will only be made in exceptional cases where a compelling reason for early disclosure is demonstrated.
[35]         While a party may volunteer details of their expert evidence in advance of the 84-day deadline, a CPC is not required for that purpose. The information can simply be provided in correspondence without the necessity of judicial involvement. As the court determined in Dhugha, the omission of the name of an expert or his or her area of expertise from a case plan order does not preclude the admission of that expert evidence at trial.
[36]         Thus, the order sought in the defendant’s case plan proposal with respect to experts could not be made by the court. The order proposed by the defence at the CPC with respect to experts is not necessary.
[37]         That leads to the next question: was a CPC necessary for any other purpose? In my view, it was not.
[38]         An order requiring the parties to exchange further amended lists of documents by certain dates is not necessary. Both counsel acknowledge the duty to provide ongoing document disclosure as required by theSCCR. The suggested deadlines micromanages a case that does not require such management.
[39]         An order requiring delivery of a certain therapist’s records by a specified date is also not required. The plaintiff has volunteered to provide those records.
[40]         An order identifying the timing and length of examinations for discovery is also unnecessary. The parties have agreed to examination dates. The length of these examinations was not seriously in dispute at this conference and did not require judicial management.
[41]         In short, I find that no case plan order ought to or need be made at this time…
[46]         Having already concluded that the CPC was unnecessary, I award the plaintiff costs related to counsel’s preparation and attendance and the conference. Those costs are fixed at $750 all inclusive, not payable forthwith.
 

bc injury law, litigation privilege, Master Bouck, Rule 11, Rule 11-1, Rule 11-1(2), Rule 5, Rule 5-1, Rule 5-1(6), Rule 5-3, Rule 5-3(1). Rule 5-3(1)(k), Rule 5-3(3), Stewart v. Robinson

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ERIK
MAGRAKEN

Personal Injury Lawyer

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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