Tag: CJPTA

BC Supreme Court Declines Jurisdiction in Out of Province Sexual Abuse Action


Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, addressing the jurisdiction of the BC Supreme Court to hear a claim involving alleged sexual abuse which took place out of  Province.
In this week’s case (TC v. AM) the Plaintiff sued her former father in law in the BC Supreme Court claiming he sexually abused her in Montreal.  The Defendant, at all material times, lived in Montreal and continued to reside there when the lawsuit started.  He did not respond to the lawsuit.  The Court ultimately found that no jurisdiction existed to hear this case pursuant to the Court Jurisdiction and Proceedings Transfer Act.  In doing so the Mr. Justice Harvey provided the following reasons:





[8] None of the presumptive categories under s. 10 of the CJPTA apply in these circumstances; however, the language of s. 10 clearly indicates that those categories do not limit “the right of the plaintiff to prove other circumstances that constitute a real and substantial connection between British Columbia and the facts on which a proceeding is based.”

[9] The common law threshold for a real and substantial connection is high. In Josephson v. Balfour Recreation Commission, 2010 BCSC 603, Loo J. stated:

[79] The real and substantial connection test requires that there be a significant or substantial connection: Beals v. Saldanha, [2003] 3 S.C.R. 416; and UniNet Technologies Inc. v. Communication Services Inc., 2005 BCCA 114.

[10] The jurisprudence in British Columbia suggests that the mere residence of the plaintiff in British Columbia is not sufficient to establish jurisdiction over a defendant resident outside of the province. Something more is required. This was discussed in Dembroski v. Rhainds, 2011 BCCA 185, where Hall J. referred to the decision of Bruce J. in Roed v. Scheffler, 2009 BCSC 731…

[11] This case lacks the additional element, beyond the mere residence of the plaintiff in this jurisdiction, to support a finding that there is a real and substantial connection between British Columbia and the facts on which a proceeding is based. The action concerns allegations of sexual assault in Quebec in relation to a defendant who continues to reside in Quebec. There is not a “significant connection” as required by the Supreme Court of Canada in Beals v. Saldanha, [2003] 3 S.C.R. 416.

[12] That the plaintiff suffers damages here is, as was the case in Roed, purely as a result of her residence in British Columbia. As stated by Dickson J. in Moran v. Pyle National (Canada) Ltd., [1975] 1 S.C.R. 393, and referred to in Dembroski, if the essence of a tort is injury, “a paramount factor in determining situs must be the place of the invasion of one’s right to bodily security.” That location in this case is Quebec. The motor vehicle scenarios in Roed and Dembroski are analogous for the purposes of determining territorial competence, as they concern tortious conduct in another jurisdiction. The presence of the plaintiff in British Columbia alone does not establish a real and substantial connection in relation to events that occurred in another jurisdiction where the defendant continues to reside.

[13] Accordingly, I dismiss the plaintiff’s application.





BC Court Jurisdiction and Out of Province Collisions


Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Court of Appeal demonstrating that it will be a rare circumstance where British Columbia Courts will have jurisdiction over a personal injury trial involving an out of Province collision.
In this week’s case (Dembroski v. Rhaindsthe Plaintiff was involved in a car crash in Alberta in 2007.  The Plaintiff was a British Columbia resident and was in Alberta for a short while to do some work as a farrier.    The Plaintiff was injured and unable to perform her work.  She returned to BC shortly after the car crash.  She had the majority of her treatments in BC.
The Plaintiff sued the alleged at fault motorist for compensation in British Columbia.  The Defendant brought a motion to dismiss the claim arguing that BC Courts lack jurisdiction to preside overthis case.  The Chambers judge granted the motion and dismissed the lawsuit.  The Plaintiff appealed without success.  In dismissing the case the BC Court of Appeal held that there will be very few circumstances where a BC Court will have jurisdiciton over an injury claim involving a foreign collision.  The Court provided the following reasons:
[39] A number of previous cases in this jurisdiction have held that the residence alone of a plaintiff in British Columbia does not suffice to establish jurisdiction over a defendant resident outside of the province.  These cases include Jordan v. Schatz and Williams v. TST Porter dba 6422217 Canada Inc., 2008 BCSC 1315, 87 B.C.L.R. (4th) 179.  There must be something more, but what is that “more”?  The appellant suggests that since she has suffered damages here and the appellant and several potential witnesses are here, it would be appropriate for the Supreme Court of British Columbia to take jurisdiction over the action.  The appellant points to certain language in the above cases of Moran, Jordan, Pacific International Securities Inc. and Teja supportive of the thesis that a British Columbia court should be found to possess jurisdiction simpliciter over the respondents in this case…

[42] Moran and Stanway were both product liability cases in which it was held that the tort occurred in that jurisdiction in which harm accrued to a plaintiff via contact with a defective product.  The harm in each case was caused by an item that harmed the particular plaintiff in the place where that injured party resided.  That sufficed to found jurisdiction over a defendant who did not have any physical presence in such location.

[43] As can be seen from those cases, the place where the damage occurred via contact with the item was the crucial factor that underpinned the assumption of jurisdiction.  It seems to me that it was this type of situation that Cumming J.A. had in mind when he observed in Jordan, “Clear examples of connecting factors include the residency of the defendant in the jurisdiction or the fact that the tortious act was committed or damages suffered here” (para. 23).

[44] Jordan was a personal injury case arising out of a motor vehicle accident in another province and this Court held that the residence of the plaintiff in British Columbia did not suffice to found jurisdiction.  Although the plaintiff in that case was undoubtedly considered to suffer damage from the sequelae of the accident here, the incident causative of this damage occurred in Alberta and that was the place properly clothed with jurisdiction over a tort action.  Jordan differs from Moran and Stanway because in those latter cases the harm that resulted in damage was caused by contact between the plaintiffs and harmful objects in the jurisdictions where the respective plaintiffs resided.  No such occurrence constituted the foundation of the cause of action in Jordan, hence it was held the British Columbia courts could not properly take jurisdiction…

[51] It may be that Teja, which I observe was also decided prior to the coming into force of the CJPTA, could be viewed as somewhat of an outlier, whose reasoning should not be extended, but it seems to me that its result can be supported on its rather unusual facts.  It was a case with significant connections to British Columbia, since all parties resided here at the time of the accident and the only vehicle involved was registered here.  The defendant also attorned to this jurisdiction (see s. 3(b) of the CJPTA).  In the instant case, the vehicle of the defendants was an Alberta vehicle, and neither defendant had or has any connection to British Columbia.  They are furthermore unwilling to attorn to this jurisdiction, unlike the defendant in Teja.  I consider attornment to have been crucial to the result in Teja, and therefore a significant distinguishing feature between that case and the present litigation.

[52] In my opinion, the decisions of this Court in classes of cases similar to the instant case, such as Jordan, and the recent decisions of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Roed andWilliams, are supportive of the decision of the chambers judge in the case at bar.  I am in agreement with the conclusion reached by the learned chambers judge and I would dismiss this appeal.

BC Lawsuits and Court Jurisdiction, The "Real and Substantial Connection" Test


If you want to sue somebody in British Columbia one thing that must be considered is whether the BC Supreme Court has jurisdiction to hear the case.  With few exceptions, a Defendant can’t be sued in the BC Supreme Court unless they live here, consent, or if there is a “real and substantial connection” between British Columbia and the subject of the lawsuit.  Reasons for judgement were released earlier this week applying this test.
In this week’s case (Broman v. Machida Mack Shewchuck Meagher LLP) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2004 motor vehicle collision in Alberta.  He hired a BC lawfirm to help him with his claim.  That lawfirm told him he ought to sue in Alberta.  The BC lawfirm then hired an Alberta lawfirm to assist with the lawsuit.
Ultimately the Plaintiff was displeased with the result reached.  The Plaintiff alleged that his lawyers did not sue all the entities they should have and this compromised his rights.  The Plaintiff brought a lawsuit against the various lawyers in the BC Supreme Court.  The Alberta defendants challenged the lawsuit arguing that the BC Supreme Court does not have the jurisdiction to hear the claim.   Madam Justice Kloegman agreed and ordered that the lawsuits be transferred to Alberta.  In reaching this conclusion the Court provided the following reasons explaining why the BC Supreme Court did not have a ‘real and substantial‘ connection with the facts underlying the lawsuit:

[25]        One of the stated purposes of the CJPTA is to bring Canadian jurisdictional rules into line with the principles laid down by the Supreme Court of Canada in Morguard Investments Ltd. v. De Savoye, [1990] 3 S.C.R. 1077.  In Morguard at 1108-1109, La Forest J. observed that reasonable limits must be placed on the exercise of jurisdiction against defendants served outside of a province if the courts of other provinces were to be expected to recognize each other’s judgments.  He did not define the “real and substantial connection” test, but remarked that it was not intended to be a rigid test. It should simply capture the idea that there must be some limits on the claims to jurisdiction.  He noted that the principles of order and fairness required consideration of the interest of the parties.  He concluded that the approach of permitting suit where there is a real and substantial connection with the action provided a reasonable balance between the rights of the parties,

[26]        When I apply the concept of order and fairness in deciding jurisdiction in the cases before me, I must side with the Albertan defendants.  They did not come to British Columbia looking to perform services for which they may be responsible to answer for in a British Columbia Court.  The plaintiff and SHB sought them out in Calgary where they practiced and where they would have expected to answer for any deficiencies in their service.  On top of that, it would be more orderly (and undoubtedly safer) for an Alberta Court, which would be more familiar with Alberta standards of practice, the legislation and law governing motor vehicle accident injury awards in Alberta, claims on the Fund, and Alberta limitation periods, to decide the issues in dispute.

[27]        S. 6 of the CJPTA has no application because the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench is a court of competent jurisdiction and is available to try these matters, without being inordinately inconvenient to Mr. Borman and SHB.  Therefore, I am transferring both of these proceedings to Alberta where they can be litigated together.  In doing so, I am well aware that Mr. Broman would ordinarily be entitled to sue his British Columbia lawyers in British Columbia.  However, as I stated earlier, at the heart of both these actions is the conduct of MM, not SHB.  There is nothing in the pleadings or the evidence before me to suggest that SHB are liable to Mr. Broman except vicariously for any negligent conduct of MM.  It would be impractical to hive off Mr. Broman’s claims against SHB from the rest of the action and I see no reason to do so.

[28]        Therefore the defendant MM shall have an order transferring the entirety of both the Vancouver and New Westminster actions to Calgary, Alberta pursuant to Part 3 of the CJPTA.  The details of the order required to ensure the effective transfer of the proceedings to Alberta can be spoken to if counsel cannot agree.

You can click here to read my other posts discussing the BC Court Jurisdiction and Proceedings Transfer Act and the Jurisdiction of the BC Supreme Court.

More on the Jurisdiction of BC Courts and Out Of Province Car Crash Cases


Further to my post yesterday discussing this topic another case was released today by the BC Supreme Court discussing the jurisdiction of the British Columbia Courts in relation to out of province motor vehicle collision tort claims.
In today’s case (Sooparayachetty v. Fox) 8 separate plaintiffs were apparently involved in an Alberta motor vehicel accident.  The Defendants were Alberta residents.  Some of the Plaintiffs were BC Residents and others were resident in the UK.  All of the Plaintiff’s brought lawsuits in both Alberta and BC with respect to their injuries.
The Defendant’s brought a motion to dismiss the claim arguing that the BC Court had no jurisdiction to preside over the lawsuit.  Master Scarth, sitting in the Vancouver Registry, agreed with the Defendants and dismissed the BC lawsuits.  In coming to this conclusion the Court reasoned as follows:

[13] The Court of Appeal has recently confirmed that the question of jurisdiction is to be determined exclusively by the substantive rules set out in the Court Jurisdiction and Proceedings Transfer Act, S.B.C. 2003, c. 28 (“CJPTA”):  Stanway v. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc., 2009 BCCA 592, at para. 12.

[14] Section 3 of the CJPTA sets out the circumstances in which a court has territorial jurisdiction as follows:

A court has territorial competence in a proceeding that is brought against a person only if:

(a)        that person is the plaintiff in another proceeding in the court to which the proceeding in question is a counterclaim,

(b)        during the course of the proceeding that person submits to the court’s jurisdiction,

(c)        there is an agreement between the plaintiff and that person to the effect that the court has jurisdiction in the proceeding,

(d)        that person is ordinarily resident in British Columbia at the time of the commencement of the proceeding, or

(e)        there is a real and substantial connection between British Columbia and the facts on which the proceeding against that person is based.

[15] Section 10 of the CJPTA sets out a list of circumstances that presumptively constitute a real and substantial connection between British Columbia and the facts on which a proceeding is based for the purposes of s. 3(e).  A plaintiff who is unable to bring herself within the statutory presumptions may nevertheless prove other circumstances which constitute a real and substantial connection.

[16] The plaintiffs rely on s. 3(e) of the CJPTA – real and substantial connection between British Columbia and the facts on which the proceeding against the defendants is based.  In this case, the presumptive circumstances in section 10 of the CJPTA do not apply.  It is therefore for the plaintiffs to establish that there is the real and substantial connection necessary to found jurisdiction…

[20] While “real and substantial connection” has not been defined, the cases provide some guidance as to what connections are insufficient to found jurisdiction.

[21] It is clear that the fact that a plaintiff is resident in British Columbia is insufficient:  Roed v. Scheffler et al, 2009 BCSC 731, at para. 35, citing Jordan v. Schatz, 2000 BCCA 409, and Williams v. TST Porter (c.o.b. 6422217 Canada Inc.) 2008 BCSC 1315.

[22] The fact that a plaintiff continues to suffer damages in British Columbia is insufficient to establish a real and substantial connection on its own: Roed, supra, at para. 43…

[26] Since the hearing of this application, our Court of Appeal has rejected the approach set out in Muscutt: see Stanway, supra, paras. 71 to 73.  Smith J.A., writing for the court, held that:

In my view, any reliance on the Muscutt factors as a guide to determining the question of jurisdiction came to an end in British Columbia with the coming into force of the CJPTA.

[27] Accordingly, the test remains real and substantial connection which appears to require a straightforward determination of whether, on the facts, a real and substantial connection has been established.

[28] Applying Roed, the first connection upon which the plaintiff relies to found jurisdiction – damages suffered within British Columbia – is too tenuous.  The question therefore becomes whether the fact that, since the Alberta accident, the plaintiff has been injured in a second accident which occurred in British Columbia can provide the basis for a finding of jurisdiction.  These circumstances were not addressed in Roed.

[29] The parties appear to agree that a global assessment of Ms. Sooparayachetty’s injuries will be required.  I take this to mean that they accept that, in order to assess damages for which the Alberta defendants may be liable, the court will be required to assess “global damages” as of the date of trial in respect of both accidents.  Circumstances relating to the second accident will therefore be considered in the assessment of damages for the first.

[30] Section 3(e) of the CJPTA provides that the court has territorial competence if there is a real and substantial connection between British Columbia and the facts on which the proceeding against the defendants is based.  While facts relating to the second accident may have to be canvassed in order to assess Ms. Sooparyachetty’s damages arising from the first accident, the two claims remain separate.  In my view, the circumstances relating to the second accident are not facts upon which the proceedings against these defendants are based, and therefore cannot provide the real and substantial connection required by s. 3(e).  The need to call evidence relating to the second accident in the trial of the first, while an appropriate consideration on the question of forum conveniens (see, for example, Stewart v. Stewart, [1995] 6 W.W.R. 402; 5 B.C.L.R. (3d) 350 (S.C.)), does not confer jurisdiction on this court in relation to the first accident, and Ms. Sooparaychetty’s action arising from it.

[31] The other plaintiffs did not press their argument in relation to territorial competence over their actions.

[32] I find that, the plaintiffs having failed to establish that there is a real and substantial connection between British Columbia and the facts on which these proceedings are based, the court does not have territorial competence in these proceedings.

[33] Where the court determines that it lacks territorial competence, s. 6 of the CJPTA gives the court a residual discretion to hear the proceeding if it considers that:

(b) the commencement of the proceeding in a court outside British Columbia cannot reasonably be required.

[34] In Lailey et al v. International Student Volunteers, Inc., 2008 BCSC 1344, at para. 47, Grauer J. interpreted s. 6 with reference to the Uniform Law Conference comment on the identical section in the uniform act:

Residual discretion permits the court to act as a “forum of last resort” where there is no other forum in which the Plaintiff could reasonably seek relief.

[35] It is clear that here, as in Lailey, British Columbia does not stand out as a forum of last resort.  There are no limitation concerns as the plaintiffs have commenced actions in Alberta as well.

[36] I do not propose to address the issue of forum conveniens given my finding regarding territorial competence, and the fact that the notice of motion did not seek relief of that nature.

[37] The plaintiffs having failed to plead, or adduce in affidavit form, facts sufficient to establish jurisdiction, the application by the defendants is allowed and the plaintiffs’ actions are stayed pursuant to Rule 14(6).

One of the reasons why Plaintiffs try to bring their lawsuits in BC versus Alberta is the fact that British Columbia has greater rights in place for those injured at the hands of others.  However, cases such as this one demonstrate that it is no easy task to establish jurisdiciton of BC Courts to hear cases inovlving foreign motor vehicle collisions.

Contact

If you would like further information or require assistance, please get in touch.

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.

“Work hard, be kind and enjoy the ride!”
Erik’s Philosophy

Disclaimer