Silence Means Loser Pays
If a BC Supreme Court Judgement is silent with respect to costs following trial the default Loser Pays system kicks in as a result of Rule 14-1(9). Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, discussing this default position.
In last week’s case (Habib v. Jack) the Plaintiff’s personal injury lawsuit was dismissed following trial. The trial Judge’s reasons did not set out any costs order. The Defendant sought their costs but the Plaintiff opposed this arguing that silence on costs in the trial judgement makes the issue ‘res judicata’. Madam Justice Ross disagreed and provided the following short but useful reasons:
 The plaintiff’s res judicata argument has previously been considered and rejected by this court. In Graham v. Great West Life et al., 2004 BCSC 1544, Sinclair Prowse J. considered the argument that silence in earlier reasons for judgment regarding costs is tantamount to an order that there will not be an order for costs. After reviewing the authorities she found that if reasons are silent, by operation of Rule 57(9), there is a presumption that costs will follow the event unless either party objects to the order being framed in that manner, in which case an application for costs should be made to the court. The present Rule 14-1(9) contains the same presumption.