It Ain't Over Till It's Over: Fresh Evidence After Judgement


As I’ve previoulsy discussed, a trial in the BC Supreme Court isn’t over until a formal Court Order is entered.  In limited circumstances a trial can be re-opened after the close of a case.  This can apply even after a Court gives judgement in a lawsuit as was demonstrated in reasons for judgement released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry.
In today’s case (Graham v. Galaxie Signs Ltd.) The Plaintiff was an employee of the Defendant.  He claimed he was unlawfully dismissed from his employment and sued for damages.  His lawsuit appeared to succeed and in April, 2010 the BC Supreme Court gave judgement ordering that the Defendant pay the Plaintiff just over $44,000.
Prior to entering a Court order, the Defendant obtained further evidence and alleged that this new evidence “suggests that the plaintiff was less then forthcoming both at discovery and at trial about efforts he made to earn income during the relevant period of notice“.  The Defendant asked the Court to re-open the trial and to permit further evidence to be led.  Mr. Justice Groves agreed to take this unusual step and went further and ordered that the Plaintiff submit to another exaximation for discovery prior to having the trial resume.  In reaching this decision the Court provided the following useful reasons:

[6]             In Zhu v. Li, 2007 BCSC 1467, 2007 CarswellBC 2367 [Zhu], leave to appeal to British Columbia Court of Appeal dismissed, 2008 BCCA 239, 2008 CarswellBC 1153, this court stated at para. 20 that the following principles apply to an application to re-open a trial to adduce fresh evidence:

1.               Prior to the entry of the formal order, a trial judge has a wide discretion to re-open the trial to hear new evidence.

2.               This discretion should be exercised sparingly and with the greatest care so as to prevent fraud and abuse of the court’s process.

3.               The onus is on the applicant to show first that a miscarriage of justice would probably occur if the trial is not re-opened and second that the new evidence would probably change the result.

4.               The credibility of the proposed fresh evidence is a relevant consideration in deciding whether its admission would probably change the result.

5.               Although the question of whether the evidence could have been presented at trial by the exercise of due diligence is not necessarily determinative, it may be an important consideration in deciding whether a miscarriage of justice would probably occur if the trial is not re-opened.

[7]             In regards to the test set out in the Zhu case, it is of note here that the formal order has not yet been entered.

[8]             Additionally, the evidence appears credible.  There are before me emails as well as numerous documents that appear to be authored by the plaintiff during the notice period and related to the construction of the Cap-It sign.  All of these documents suggest that the plaintiff was working on the Cap-It sign.  Additionally, the affidavit of the plaintiff does not dispute the documentary evidence provided in the affidavit of John LeComte but states in his defence that he did not receive remuneration for the work that the documents confirm he did.

[9]             I find that the proposed fresh evidence is credible and tends to show that a miscarriage of justice would probably occur if the trial is not re-opened to deal with the issues raised by this evidence.

[10]         As suggested by Zhu, the defendant is obligated to exercise due diligence prior to trial to ensure that all issues are before the court and that all defences are raised so as to avoid unnecessary re-openings of trial.  With that said, I find that this defendant was diligent in their actions prior to trial in trying to uncover possible avenues of mitigation of this plaintiff.  In fact, the defendant has been so diligent that it has, in the past, received criticism from the court for some of their “diligence”.  That, coupled with what appears to be a prima facie denial at trial and at discovery by this plaintiff of work that the documents support he did, leads me to conclude that this defendant has exercised due diligence prior to and at trial in attempting to get all evidence in the area of mitigation before the court.

[11]         I direct that the trial of this matter be re-opened.  I further direct that the plaintiff be required to attend a further examination for discovery on the issue of mitigation during the relevant notice period as it relates to his relationships with Cap-It and Dickson’s Signs Ltd.  Additionally I direct that the defendant be permitted to call additional witnesses at trial on the issue of mitigation during the notice period as it relates to Cap-It and Dickson’s Signs Ltd.

bc injury law, calling a witness after closing your case, calling new evidence after judgement, Graham v. Galaxie Signs Ltd., Mr. Justice Groves, re-opening a case after judgement

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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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