Disjunctive Nature of Rule 15 Confirmed by BC Supreme Court


Earlier this year Master Bouck found that Rule 15 applies to cases worth below $100,000 regardless of length of trial and conversely to cases worth more than $100,000 where the length of trial is three days or less.  This reasoning was confirmed in reasons for judgement released this week by Mr. Justice Grist.
In this week’s case (Sandhu v. Roy) the Plaintiff was injured in two separate motor vehicle collisions.  He sued for damages and both actions were set for hearing, by consent, at the same time.  ICBC unilaterally put the cases into Rule 15 and set a trial for three days.  The Plaintiff applied to remove the case from Rule 15 arguing the case did not meet with its requirements given the value of the claims and the length of trial necessary.
ICBC argued that liability was “not seriously in dispute” and the trial can be completed in three days.  Mr. Justice Grist found with liability denied in the pleadings the case was not suitable for fast track litigation and ordered the matter removed from Rule 15 (unless ICBC formally admitted liability within 14 days).  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons confirming the Disjunctive nature of the fast track Rule:

[12] The defendants’ point that the prerequisites for a Fast Track Notice are listed disjunctively is sound. In Hemani, Master Bouck recognized the disjunctive list of criteria in Rule 15-1(1), as allowing for a case requiring more than three days to be set on Fast Track, and held that an action will not be removed from Fast Track on an application under 15-1(6) for that reason alone. Rule 15-1, however, presents something of a conundrum on the question of removal of an action from Fast Track as a result of an estimated trial length beyond three days. If the action proceeds to a Trial Management Conference, Rule 15-1(14) applies:

If trial will require more than 3 days

(14)      If, as a result of the trial management conference in a fast track action, the trial management conference judge considers that the trial will likely require more than 3 days, the trial management conference judge

(a)        may adjourn the trial to a date to be fixed as if the action were not subject to this rule.

[13] In a case like this one, where only three days are set aside for trial and the circumstances indicate that significantly more days are required, should the matter proceed to a Trial Management Conference, the court would in most cases be forced to require a second trial date be set, and may often be called on to remove the action from the strictures of the Rule…

[16] I find merit in plaintiff’s application and would accede to the adjournment of the trial and removal of the action from the Fast Track Program. I consider, however, that the orders may not ultimately be necessary if liability for the two collisions were to be admitted. Defence counsel should be given the opportunity to re-assess his position once the effect of this decision is known. Accordingly, I will stipulate that the two orders will become effective should the liability issues not be settled within 14 days of these Reasons.

bc injury law, Mr. Justice Grist, Rule 15, Rule 15-1, Rule 15-1(1), Rule 15-1(1)(a), Rule 15-1(1)(b), Rule 15-1(14), Rule 15-1(6), Sandhu v. Roy

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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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