Defendant Refused Costs at Trial For Failing to Consent to Small Claims Court Transfer
Reasons for judgement were released today addressing whether a Defendant who beat a formal settlement offer should be awarded costs.
In today’s case (Cue v. Breitkruez) the Plaintiff was involved in a rear-end collision. He sued the rear motorist for damages. Prior to trial the Defendant made a formal settlement offer for $1. With liability being hotly contested the Plaintiff proposed that the case be transferred to Small Claims Court. The Defendant refused to consent stating that “such a transfer would result in greater delay“.
At trial the Plaintiff’s case was dismissed with a finding that the Plaintiff was responsible for the collision. (You can click here to read my summary of the trial judgement). The Defendant then applied to be awarded double costs pursuant to Rule 9-1(5) because they beat their formal offer at trial.
Mr. Justice Smith dismissed the application noting that since Rule 14-1(10) generally restricts Plaintiff’s awarded an amount within the small claims court jurisdiction from being awarded trial costs that the Defendant should be refused costs for not agreeing to have the case heard in Provincial Court. Specifically Mr. Justice Smith noted as follows:
7] The matter remained in this court subject to an agreement to still limit the claim to what could be awarded in Provincial Court. Had my liability decision been different and the matter proceeded to an assessment of damages, Rule 14-1(10) would have been a bar to an award of any costs, other than disbursements, in favour of the plaintiff. In my view, fairness requires that the same limitation apply to the successful defendant, particularly as the defendant did not agree to the proposed transfer to Provincial Court.
 I therefore decline to award any costs to the defendant, other than disbursements. There is therefore no need to consider the offer to settle because there are no costs to double.