Court Finds "After the Event" Insurance a Factor To Consider When Awarding Post Trial Costs
In what, to my knowledge, is the first BC injury case commenting on the weight a court should place on “After the Event” insurance when awarding costs post trial, reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing this.
In the recent case (Clubine v. Paniagua) the Plaintiff was injured in a crash and sued for damages. Prior to trial the Defendant offered to resolve the claim for a total of $94,848.32 plus costs and disbursements. The Plaintiff rejected this offer and proceeded to trial where he was awarded a total of $77,224.32 in damages. The Defendant asked for costs of the trial arguing their offer should have been accepted.
The Plaintiff had ATE insurance which covers some of these adverse costs consequences. The Court was asked to take this factor into account in stripping the plaintiff post-offer costs and making the Plaintiff pay the Defendant’s trial costs. In finding this was an appropriate factor to consider Madam Justice Watchuk provided the following reasons:
 On the costs application it was disclosed that the plaintiff purchased adverse cost insurance known as “After-the-Event” (“ATE”) insurance prior to trial. In submissions the plaintiff explained that the ATE insurance would cover the defendant’s disbursements and costs from the date of the offer if costs were awarded against the plaintiff, and would also pay for the plaintiff’s disbursements incurred but not awarded from the date of the offer. It will not pay for the plaintiff’s costs following the date of the offer.
 The defendant submits that the ATE insurance effectively undermines the intent of the offer to settle rule. It allows a plaintiff to avoid the punitive costs consequences of the rule, ignore reasonable offers to settle, and with impunity take their chance at trial. The winnowing function of the costs rules is obviated by ATE insurance; doubtful cases can proceed through litigation without risk of adverse costs consequences. I conclude in this case that this insurance had such an effect.
 The ATE insurance in this case strongly weighs in favour of the defendant’s costs application. ..
 The defendant made reasonable efforts to settle this matter. The plaintiff’s failure to accept the reasonable offer to settle should have costs consequences. The ATE insurance held by the plaintiff is a factor that further weighs against costs following the event in these circumstances.
 The offer was open to the eve of trial, July 22, 2016. In these circumstances the plaintiff is entitled to only his pre-trial costs of $6,500 plus disbursements. The defendant’s application is granted and she is entitled to the costs and disbursements of the trial.