Tag: Amending Pleadings

Can Pleadings Be Amended After Trial?


Once a Notice of Trial has been served or a Case Planning Conference is held a party can only amend their pleadings with permission of all other parties or with leave of the Court.  The Court can allow an amendment of pleadings under Rule 6-1 during (or even after) trial as was demonstrated in reasons for judgement released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry.
In this week’s case (0679372 B.C. Ltd. v. The Winking Judge Pub Ltd.) the Plaintiff’s claim proceeded to trial and was successful.  Following trial, but prior to entry of a formal order, the Plaintiff brought an applicaiton to amend it’s pleadings “to conform with the evidence at trial, and to conform with the Reasons for Judgement delivered“.
Madam Justice Smith granted the applicaiton finding this was an appropriate case to allow pleadings to be amended.  In making this finding the Court provided the following reasons:

[6] In Canadian National Railway Co. v. Imperial Oil Ltd., 2007 BCSC 1193, [2007] B.C.J. No. 1743 [C.N.R.] the following principles regarding amendments were set out at para. 18 with respect to the exercise of the Court’s discretion to permit amendments to pleadings during or at the conclusion of a trial:

(a)    the amended pleadings must not be inconsistent with the pleadings already filed on behalf of the party seeking an amendment;

(b)    the amended pleadings must not be inconsistent with the evidence tendered by that party at trial and on discovery;

(c)    the amended pleadings must be such that they would not have changed the whole course of the trial had they been requested at the outset of the trial;

(d)    the amendment must not be unfair to the opposite party; and

(e)   the amendment must be necessary for the purpose of determining the real issues raised.

[7] In my view, the plaintiff’s application for leave to amend should be granted.  It is consistent with the pleadings already filed.  It is not inconsistent with evidence tendered by the plaintiff at trial (or on discoveries, so far as I am aware).  The amended pleadings would not have changed the course of the trial.  Permitting the amendment will not be unfair to the defendants, who were well aware of the evidence and who were given the opportunity to make submissions regarding the implications of a possible express trust.  Finally, the proposed amendment is necessary to record accurately the issues raised and determined in these proceedings.

Can ICBC Deny Fault For a Crash After Previously Admitting it?


As with most areas of law, the short answer is ‘it depends‘.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, canvassing this area of law.
In today’s case (Hurn v. McLellan) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2007 motor vehicle collision.  It was a ‘t-bone‘ crash that occurred in a parking lot.  The Plaintiff started a lawsuit and ICBC admitted the issue of fault in the Pleadings on behalf of the other motorist.  As the lawsuit neared trial ICBC brought an application seeking permission to withdraw the admission of fault.  Master Bouck dismissed ICBC’s request finding it would be prejudicial to the Plaintiff’s interests.  In doing so the Court provided the following useful summary of the law:

[26] …There are similar and overlapping considerations for the court on these two types of applications. However, to adopt the submissions of plaintiff’s counsel, the “high bar” threshold to obtain leave to withdraw an admission must be met before the “low bar” threshold to obtain leave to amend a pleading will follow. Thus, the legal test to be met by the defence is with respect to the withdrawal of an admission.

[27] Rule 7-7(5) of the SCCR  provides that:

7-7(5)  A party is not entitled to withdraw

(a) an admission made in response to a notice to admit,

(b) a deemed admission under subrule (2), or

(c) an admission made in a pleading, petition or response to petition

except by consent or with leave of the court.

[28] The principles which govern an application to withdraw an admission of fact are as follows:

1.  Whether there is a triable issue which, in the interests of justice, should be determined on the merits and not disposed of by an admission of fact;

2.  In applying that test, all of the circumstances should be taken into account including whether:

(a) the admission has been made inadvertently, hastily or without knowledge;

(b) the fact admitted was not within the knowledge of the party making the admission

(c) the fact admitted is not true.

(d) the fact admitted is one of mixed fact and law

(e) the withdrawal of the admission would not prejudice a party

(f) there has been no delay in applying to withdraw the admission.

Hamilton v. Ahmed (1999), 28 C.P.C. (4th) 139 (B.C.S.C.) at para. 11, as approved in Munster & Sons Developments Ltd. v. Shaw, 2005 BCCA 564.

[29] More recently, the test has been articulated by the court in 374787 B.C. Ltd. v. Great West Management Corp., 2007 BCSC 582 at para. 27:

As a general rule, the Court must consider whether in the circumstances of the case the interests of justice justify the withdrawal of the admission. The following facts, which are not exhaustive are relevant: delay, loss of a trial date, a party is responsible for an erroneous admission, inadvertence in the making of an admission and estoppel …

[30] The question of fault for the accident is one of mixed fact and law: Bedwell v. McGill, 2008 BCCA 6 at paras. 33 to 34, foll’g Housen v. Nikolaisen, [2002] S.C.J. No. 31, [2002] 2 S.C.R. 235 at para. 27 (S.C.C.), per Iacobucci and Major JJ.

[31] However, whether the admission sought to be withdrawn is one of fact, law or mixed law and fact, the same legal test applies: Nesbitt v. Miramar Mining Corp., 2000 BCSC 187 at para. 6.

[32] It is not enough to show that triable issue exists. The applicant must show that, in all of the circumstances, the interests of justice require the withdrawal of the admission: Rafter v. Paterson(November 7, 2007), Vancouver No. B924884.

[33] Moreover, even if a trial date is not imminent and the applicant gave early notice of the proposed withdrawal of the admission, delay in bringing an application for such relief might in itself be a “concern that cannot be overcome”: Sureus v. Leroux, 2010 BCSC 1344.

Amending Pleadings and the New Rules of Court


The first case that I’m aware of dealing with amendments of pleadings under the New Rules of Court was released earlier this week.  In short the Court held that the new Rules don’t change the law with respect to the Court’s discretion in permitting amendments.
In this week’s case (BRZ Holdings Inc. v. JER Envirotech International Corp.,) the Plaintiff sued various defendants for losses caused by alleged fraudulent or negligent misrepresentation.  As trial approached the Plaintiff sought significant amendments to their pleadings.  The Defendant opposed these arguing the changes would cause prejudice.  Mr. Justice Smith ultimately allowed most of the proposed amendments and in doing so provided the following useful reasons confirming the New Rules did not alter the law with respect to amendments of pleadings:
6] Amendments to pleadings are now governed by Rule 6-1 of the Supreme Court Civil Rules, B.C. Reg. 168/ 2009 [Rules], which is similar to the former rule 24 in that amendments at this stage of the proceedings require leave of the court.  Cases decided under the former rule make clear that amendments will usually be allowed unless the opposite party can demonstrate actual, as opposed to potential, prejudice, or unless the amendments would be useless:  Langret Investments S.A. v. McDonnell (1996), 21 B.C.L.R. (3d) 145 (C.A.) at paras. 34 and 43.  The court’s discretion is “completely unfettered and subject only to the general rule that all such discretion is to be exercised judicially, in accordance with the evidence adduced and such guidelines as may appear from the authorities” [emphasis added]: Teal Cedar Products v. Dale Intermediaries Ltd. (1996), 19 B.C.L.R. (3d) 282 (C.A.) at para. 45.  Nothing in the new Rules suggests any change in the court’s approach.

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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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