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Interest on Disbursements Allowed in Significant Injury Claim

Update – May 17, 2013 – the below decision was upheld on appeal this week. You can click here to read about this development
A developing area in BC relating to personal injury law is the ability of a Plaintiff to recover interest charged on disbursements.  Prosecuting personal injury claims, particularly claims with complex injuries, can be an expensive business.  Disbursements can quickly add up to tens of thousands of dollars.  These expenses are often financed through a line of credit which can accrue significant interest over time.
Although the BC Court of Appeal has yet to weigh in on this subject, it appears the law is shifting to allow interest on disbursements to be recovered in personal injury litigation in this Province.  Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, allowing such a result.
In today’s case (Chandi v. Atwell) the infant Plaintiff was severely injured in a 2004 collision.  The case settled for $900,000 plus costs and disbursements.  Following settlement ICBC took issue with many of the Plaintiff’s disbursements.  The parties had these assessed by the BC Supreme Court.  While some reductions were made the Court ultimately upheld many of the Plaintiff’s disbursements including a medico-legal assessment which alone cost almost $17,000.
The Plaintiff incurred over $25,000 in disbursement interest.  In allowing this expense the Court provided a useful summary of the law at paragraph 71 of the reasons for judgement with District Registrar Cameron coming to the following conclusion:
[73]         While the current state of the law mandates that I make some allowance for the interest expense in my view I am not bound to award full indemnity for the amount of interest charged to the Plaintiff. I am not bound by Basi v. Atwal and with the greatest of respect I decline to follow it.
[74]         In the law of costs it is still only in the relatively rare case that full indemnity is provided to the successful party. Only disbursements that are necessary and reasonable in amount are recoverable.
[75]         In my view the Registrar should endeavour, wherever possible, in assessing the amount to allow for a specific type of disbursement to strive for consistency unless the application of that principle would work a real hardship or unfairness in a particular case. To attain that consistency I will make an allowance for disbursement interest based upon Registrar’s rates with the calculation of the total amount to be akin to the calculation of interest payable on special damages pursuant to the relevant provisions of Court Order Interest Act.
For more on this topic you can click here to accessed my archived ‘interest on disbursement’ posts.  This case is also worth reviewing for the Court’s comments at paragraphs 49-53 on ‘transcription fees‘ finding that this is a disbursement of convenience, not necessity, and therefore not allowable.

Chandi v. Atwell, District Registrar Cameron, Interest on Disbursements, transcription fees