Just last week I posted about ‘costs’ awards in Supreme Court when an ICBC clam’s value is assessed below $25,000 (the current monetary jurisdiction of BC’s small claims court). Today, reasons for judgment were released shedding more light on this topic.
In today’s case the Plaintiff was injured in a 2005 rear-end crash. ICBC took the ‘low velocity impact’ position and argued that the Plaintiff did not suffer any compensable damages as a result of this crash. The Plaintiff disagreed and argued that he suffered injuries worth several thousand dollars.
Both the Plaintiff and ICBC agreed on at least one thing, and that is that this claim was for injuries with a financial value that was in the Small Claims Court’s jurisdiction and this was obvious even before the Plaintiff filed in Supreme Court.
As discussed in my previous post, the key analysis to Supreme Court ‘costs’ in such a case is governed by Rule 57 and whether the Plaintiff had ‘sufficient reason’ for bringing the lawsuit in Supreme Court. Clearly if the Plaintiff knew the case was worth less than $25,000 at the time he started the lawsuit he could not have had sufficient reason for suing in Supreme Court, right? Not necessarily.
Today’s case demonstrated the principle that the choice of forum is not governed by financial considerations alone. A Plaintiff can have sufficient reason for suing in Supreme Court for factors other than the value of the claim. Here the Plaintiff was awarded costs because the court found it was sufficient to sue in Supreme Court to take advantage of the Supreme Court’s pre trial discovery procedures. The court’s key reasoning can be found at paragraphs 39-43 which I reproduce below:
 The Plaintiff here emphasizes the “opportunity to take advantage of the pre-trial preparation to which [the Plaintiff] was entitled”. In this case liability was denied. Causation was denied. Contributory negligence was alleged. At trial a failure to mitigate was alleged.
 In this case the Defendant by denying liability, causation, and reimbursement for special damages, required that the Plaintiff to prove all of these things in court. The Defendant gave important evidence regarding the speed of impact, the consequences of the impact, and concern over the Plaintiff’s condition, which, I am advised, was revealed on discovery.
 In my view the position of the Defendant justified the Plaintiff pursuing this case in Supreme Court, where pre-trial discovery is available. A similar determination was made in cases such as Tucker v. Brown, 2008 BCSC 734, Faedo v. Dowell and Wacher, 2007 BCSC 1985, and Kanani v. Misiurna, 2008 BCSC 1274.
 There is the additional factor that, as in Faedo and Kanani, the Plaintiff faced an institutional defendant which, in the ordinary course, has counsel. To obtain any recovery the Plaintiff is forced to go to court, where he is facing counsel and counsel is reasonably required, but in Provincial Court there is no way of recovering the costs of counsel.
 In the circumstances, the Plaintiff is entitled to costs, pursuant to Rule 66.