Rule 15 Caselaw Update – Costs For Trials Exceeding Three Days

Adding to this site’s archived caselaw dealing with BC Supreme Court’s Fast Track Rule, reasons for judgement were released addressing the appropriate costs for a Fast Track trial which exceeds 3 days.
Rule 15-1(15)(c) fixes costs for fast track trials which exceed two days at $11,000 “unless the court otherwise orders”.   In the recent case (Coutakis v. Lean) the Court held that the circumstances were appropriate to depart from this default amount.
In the Coutakis case the Plaintiff suffered C6/7 disk herniation.   His claim proceeded via fast track trial and ultimately took more than three days to conclude.  The Plaintiff argued that the $11,000 costs cap should be set aside to account for the lengthier than anticipated trial.  Mr. Justice Saunders agreed finding that the pronged hearing was due in part to the Defendant leading “irrelevant” and “ineffectual” evidence.  In assessing costs at $14,000 the court provided the following reasons:
[10]         Under subrule 15-1(15), the court is given a wide discretion to order an amount of costs other than the fixed amounts set out therein.  In my view, this is a case which clearly calls for the exercise of that discretion, in favour of the plaintiff.  That the hearing of the evidence took three days, rather than two, was largely as a result of the defence’s cross-examination of four of the plaintiff’s treating physicians, and the defence’s tendering as opinion evidence of the consultation report of a neurosurgeon.  Hearing the evidence of all of these physicians took more than three hours, and, as I stated in my judgment, all of it was ineffectual.  Further time was spent hearing irrelevant evidence from the defendant.
[11]         I find that the plaintiff is entitled to costs for each of the four days spent hearing evidence and argument, and for the fifth day which was scheduled but on which the trial did not proceed.
[12]         The plaintiff seeks a further allocation for additional preparation associated with the trial being continued eight months after it commenced.  Having reviewed the evidence before the court on the third day of trial, I do not think that the additional preparation would likely have been significant, and in any event any further cost incurred by the plaintiff is addressed by having awarded the plaintiff full costs for the aborted day of trial.
[13]         Using the amounts prescribed in the subrule as reference points, I award the plaintiff base costs of $14,000, plus disbursements.
 

Coutakis v. Lean, Mr. Justice Saunders, Rule 15, Rule 15-1, Rule 15-1(15), Rule 15-1(15)(c)

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ERIK
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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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