Fast Track Proceedings Mandatory Either by Length of Trial "OR" Quantum

For the past year there has been some debate amongst BC lawyers about the circumstances triggering Rule 15.  Useful reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, clarifying this debate.  In short the Court confirmed that where otherwise applicable, the fast track rule 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.
In today’s case (Hemani v. Hillard) the Plaintiff claimed damages for personal injury.  She sued pursuant to Rule 15.   She was seeking damages below $100,000 but the trial was expected to take 5 days.  The Defendant argued that in these circumstances fast track rule does not apply.  Master Bouck disagreed and provided the following helpful reasons:

[6] The plaintiff acknowledges that her claim is valued at $100,000 or less exclusive of interest and costs.

[7] The defendant submits that where the plaintiff estimates the trial will take more than three days, an action can no longer be continued in fast track….

[10] In contrast, the plaintiff points to the use of the word “or” (as opposed to “and”) under Rule 15-1(1) (a) through (d). The use of this disjunctive suggests that fast track can apply to a variety of scenarios. A party is not restricted to completing the action within three days; that is merely one criteria for conducting an action in fast track.

[11] The plaintiff further observes that under Rule 15-1(3), the court may award damages to a plaintiff for an amount in excess of $100,000 even though the action was commenced in fast track under the monetary criteria.

[12] The plaintiff accepts the risk that she may not recover costs for the additional two days of trial.

[13] While there may be no judicial consideration of this issue, there is a helpful analysis of Rule 15-1 in McLachlin & Taylor, British Columbia Practice (Third Edition), at pp. 15-1 to 15-3.

[14] The learned author states:

One could say that the 3-day trial limit is a condition subsequent to the continuing application of Rule 15-1, but the rules cited do not go that far. Put in other terms, it cannot be said that condition (c) is a true condition subsequent to the operation of Rule 15-1. Rather, if in the event it is not satisfied, that can result (depending on the stage of the proceeding when this is found to be the case) in the loss of a trial date or a denial of costs for the fourth and subsequent days of trial, but the action continues to be a fast track action until and unless the court, on its own motion or on the application of a party, so orders under Rule 15-1 (6).

[15] I agree with this analysis.

[16] There is no application before me to remove the action from fast track on any other grounds.

[17] Accordingly, as a matter of statutory interpretation, the plaintiff’s position on the issue is correct.

bc injury law, Hemani v. Hillard, Master Bouck, Rule 15, Rule 15-1, Rule 15-1(1), Rule 15-1(1)(a), Rule 15-1(1)(b)

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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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