Court Directs Early UMP Payment Noting "The Application of Law Should Not Be Blind to Practical Solutions"

Reasons for judgement were released by the BC Supreme Court, Kelowna Registry, creating a practical solution to a real world problem, getting a judgement paid in the face of ongoing claims which may exceed a Defendant’s coverage.
In this week’s case (Clark v. Bullock) the Plaintiff along with other individuals were injured in a serious collision.  The Plaintiff’c claim proceeded to trial and damages of $550,000 were assessed.  The Defendant’s had $5,000,000 of liability coverage however, there were ongoing claims involving injured infants and there was “a real and legitimate concern that there may not be sufficient coverage” to pay all the claims.
The Plaintiff had Underinsured Motorist Protection however a practical difficulty arose in that those funds could not be forced to be paid until it can be proven the Defendant’s were underinsured.  In this case that could have taken many years as the infants claims were not yet ready to be quantified.  This left the 67 year old plaintiff facing a real possibility that he could not receive payment on his judgement for a number of years.  The Court, with the consent of the parties, fashioned a sensible solution and ordered that the money be paid via the UMP policy even though it technically was not accessible at this time.  Mr. Justice Betton provided the following sensible reasons:
 
[23]         In this particular case, ICBC determined that it would waive the entitlement that it has by virtue of the legislation to require that Mr. Clark exhaust all of his remedies, including awaiting the payment of his pro rata entitlement to the $5,000,000 coverage under the Bullock policy; that is, ICBC would waive its entitlement to insist on all of those steps being taken before accessing the underinsured motorist protection coverage.
[24]         The condition it attaches is that it requires a declaration from court that would protect it against the potential for having to pay out more than the amount of the Bullock policy.
[25]         With that concession or that position being adopted by ICBC, these parties come before me with a request for a declaration. That declaration essentially allows ICBC to access the underinsured motorist protection coverage available to Mr. Clark to pay the amount that Justice Barrow has determined Mr. Clark is entitled to with adjustments as agreed to by the parties….
[30]         In my view, the interpretation of the statutes and the application of the law should not be blind to practical solutions when parties, fully cognizant of their rights and entitlement, present such a proposal. The court should make efforts to facilitate that, so long as it is not running afoul of legislation or established legal precedent, and does not prejudice parties who would have an interest in the pool of funds that they would have available to them.
[31]         I am satisfied in these circumstances that, indeed, this arrangement is in the interests of both Mr. Clark and the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, the applicants before me, and it does not prejudice or adversely affect the rights of the other entities, all of whom have been served with notice of this application and have chosen not to participate.
[32]         The only other entity which is not a party that may, in a general sense, have an interest in this type of situation would be the Public Guardian and Trustee who, through its statutory obligation, has an interest in protecting infants in this type of context.
[33]         I should say as well that all of those other parties are represented by counsel. No interested party in this matter is self-represented or unrepresented.
[34]         I have chosen and determined not to require that there be any notice to the Public Guardian and Trustee, or that it be served with this application, because I am satisfied that the declaration which I will be making does not adversely affect the infants who are plaintiffs in separate proceedings arising out of this collision. They will still have full access to their proportionate shares of the insurance policy limits of the Bullocks.
[35]         Accordingly, I will make the declaration.

bc injury law, Clark v. Bullock, ICBC Underinsured Motorist Protection, Mr. Justice Betton

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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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