Double Costs Awarded Following Liability Only Trial
Adding to this site’s archived posts of costs consequences following trials with formal settlement offers, reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, addressing this topic following a ‘liability only’ trial.
In this week’s case (Cyr v. Blaine) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2009 collision. The parties agreed that, subject to proving fault, the value of the claim was $60,000. The parties could not agree on fault both arguing the other was to blame. Prior to trial the Plaintiff delivered a formal settlement offer of $50,000.
At trial the Defendant was found fully at fault entitling the Plaintiff to the agreed damages of $60,000. Mr. Justice Saunders found that it was appropriate to award the Plaintiff post offer double costs in these circumstances. In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:
 The defendants say that it was reasonable for them to try the case on the basis of their theory that the plaintiff had a duty to look to her left as she passed by the front of the vehicle that had stopped for her in the intersection. But even if the plaintiff had been under an obligation to anticipate that there might be another vehicle in the same lane as the stopped vehicle, attempting to pass that stopped vehicle on the left, the defendants had no evidence that, by the time she would have been able to see the defendants’ vehicle, she would have been able to bring her own vehicle to a stop in time to avoid the collision, given the defendants’ speed.
 The defendant Mr. Blaine passed a stopped vehicle, on its left, when he was in the same lane as that vehicle. As I found, it ought to have been apparent to Mr. Blaine from the opening in the divider separating eastbound and westbound traffic that he was passing through an intersection, and that cars travelling in his direction had stopped to let a vehicle or vehicles through the intersection. By the time the subject offer was delivered, it ought to have been apparent to the defendants that they would be found wholly or at least substantially liable for the accident.
 Given that damages had been agreed at $60,000, the plaintiff’s $50,000 offer represented a discount of roughly 17%, or, to put it another way, roughly a 50% chance of a finding of one-third contributory negligence on the plaintiff’s part. It was an offer that reasonably ought to have been accepted upon delivery.
 The plaintiff, I find, is entitled to double costs of all steps taken after the offer was delivered.