Tag: costs

More on Rule 15 and Pre Trial Costs Assessments


Last year Master Baker released reasons for judgement assessing pre-trial settlement costs of a Rule 15 lawsuit at $6,500.  Today reasons for judgement were released upholding this analysis finding no error was made in such an assessment.
In today’s case (Gill v. Widjaja) Mr. Justice Harvey provided the following reasons upholding the Master’s decision:

[47] I turn now to the matter of the tariff fees allowed by Master Baker of the $6,500 in costs.

[48] Rule 15-1(15) reads:

(15) Unless the court otherwise orders or the parties consent, and subject to Rule 14-1(10), the amount of costs, exclusive of disbursements, to which a party to a fast track action is entitled is as follows:

(a)  if the time spent on the hearing of the trial is one day or less, $8,000;

(b) if the time spent on the hearing of the trial is 2 days or less but more than one day, $9 500;

(c) if the time spent on the hearing of the trial is more than 2 days, $11 000.

[49] The Rule, as written, gives the registrar wide discretion in determining the appropriate tariff amount.  Master Baker was aware of the steps taken in the litigation and the date of settlement relative to the trial date.

[50] Having regard to the aforementioned test that I must apply, I am not of the view that an error in principle has been demonstrated nor do I find that the master was clearly wrong in his determination that the appropriate cost of tariff amount was $6,500.

[51] The express purpose of Rule 15-1 is to streamline the process both for trial and, presumably, taxation of costs.  Parsing out the details in each action where the amounts do not apply is not, in my view, the proper course.  Indeed, were it, in this action there was a settlement conference which no doubt necessitated some significant preparation, much like trial preparation, and, as well, a trial management conference.  Each of those events resulted in discussions leading to the settlement of this matter.

[52] In those circumstances I find no error in principle such as to interfere with the finding of the master.

Plaintiff Stripped of Costs for Failing to "Justify His Choice of Forum"

As previously discussed, the default position when a Plaintiff is awarded less than $25,000 following a Supreme Court trial is that they are not entitled to costs unless they show “sufficient reason” for suing in that forum.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing this and stripping a Plaintiff of costs who failed to justify his choice of forum.
In this week’s case (Quartey-Harrison v. Klusiewich) the Plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle collision and following trial was awarded just over $18,000 in damages plus costs “if no submissions (respecting costs) have been received“.
Following this the Defendant provided written submissions arguing the Plaintiff should be deprived of costs because the claim could have been advanced in Provincial Court.  The Plaintiff did not respond to this submission.  Madam Justice Baker stripped the Plaintiff of his costs finding the onus was on him to justify his choice of forum.  The Court provided the following reasons:

[6] The burden is on the plaintiff to justify his choice of forum.  The court is to consider the circumstances at the time the action was commenced.

[7] In this case, Mr. Quartey-Harrison has made no submissions on costs and has offered no evidence on the issue of “sufficient reason” for bringing the proceeding in the Supreme Court.  In the circumstances, I do not think that I should speculate.

[8] In my view, the evidence at trial made it plain and obvious that no award for past or future loss of income or the capacity to earn income, was warranted, and that the mild whiplash type injury suffered by Mr. Quartey-Harrison was unlikely to result in an award in excess of the $25,000 monetary limit in Small Claims Court.

[9] I have carefully considered the submissions made by the defendants in respect of the defendants’ settlement offer but have concluded that Mr. Quartey-Harrison’s right to recover disbursements should not be nullified by the offer.

[10] In summary, each party shall bear its own costs, but the plaintiff is entitled to recover his disbursements from the defendants.

Plaintiff Awarded $9,500 Costs Despite $4,000 Damage Assessement


Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, with the “curious result” of costs recovery at over double the amount of assessed damages.
In last week’s case (Kargbo v. Chand) the Plaintiff was involved in a motor vehicle collision.  ICBC disputed both fault and injury.  At trial the Plaintiff’s claim was accepted and modest damages of $4,000 were awarded.  The Plaintiff sought her costs.  ICBC opposed arguing the Plaintiff did not have sufficient reason to sue in Supreme Court.
Earlier this year the BC Court of Appeal made it clear that more than the value of an ICBC Claim can be considered in deciding whether there is sufficient reason to sue in the Supreme Court.  Mr. Justice Williams went on to canvass factors other than value and concluded that the Plaintiff was entitled to $9,500 in costs under Rule 15-1(15).  The Court provided the following reasons:

[9] The problem ultimately reduces to this: If the Court determines that the plaintiff had sufficient reason for commencing or proceeding in the Supreme Court, she should be entitled to recover costs in accordance with Rule 15-1(15). If the Court finds that there was not sufficient reason for bringing the proceeding in this Court, then she is not entitled to recover her costs.

[10] In Reimann v. Aziz, 2007 BCCA 448, the Court of Appeal clarified that the issue has to be analyzed as at the point in time that the plaintiff initiated the action; there is no ongoing obligation to assess the quantum of claim.

[11] I have been provided with a number of decisions where judges of this Court have assessed the circumstances of cases to decide whether or not an order for costs is warranted. Obviously, the plaintiff bears the onus of establishing that there was sufficient reason for filing in the Supreme Court. It is not simply a matter of assessing the anticipated value of the claim. A number of factors have been identified in the cases as being relevant to the issue. These include the following (the list is not intended to be exhaustive):

1.         the legal or factual complexity of the case;

2.         the need for discovery of documents and examinations for discovery;

3.         the need for a judgment enforceable outside of British Columbia;

4.         a bona fide preference for a jury trial;

5.         access to the summary trial procedure available in Supreme Court; and

6.         the need for the plaintiff to have legal counsel, in light of the defendant’s denial of liability, dispute as to causation, injury or loss and allegations of contributory negligence, pre-existing conditions, previous causes and a failure to mitigate.

[12] In the present case, liability was denied and in the circumstances could reasonably have been expected to represent a challenge to prove. As well, the issue of damages had the real potential of being a problem. The plaintiff had a history of prior accidents and had been hospitalized shortly after the accident in question for matters not related to the accident. She was also injured in another more serious accident some several months after the accident at bar. It was the sort of case that a self-represented plaintiff would find daunting no doubt.

[13] Taking those considerations into account, it is my view that this plaintiff had sufficient reason for bringing her proceeding in the Supreme Court.

[14] As a parenthetical observation, it is true that a party such as this plaintiff could elect to pursue the claim in the Provincial Court with legal counsel, although the prospect of incurring the expense to do so without any right to recover court costs is a legitimate factor to consider. As well, where the plaintiff elects to bring suit in the Supreme Court, she runs the real risk of an adverse costs outcome if the action is unsuccessful.

[15] In the circumstances, it is my view that the plaintiff should be entitled to costs in accordance with the Rules of Court. I recognize that might appear to produce a curious result in that the award of costs is substantially greater than the damages that she recovered. However, if the matter is considered fairly and objectively and the relevant rule applied, that result follows.

[16] There is no question that the policy which underpins Rule 14-1(1) is to encourage parties with claims of modest value to bring their action in the Provincial Court, and to provide for a penalty against one who does not. That is consistent with the concept of proportionality which is a foundational consideration of the Court’s Rules.

[17] The clear default position will be that, with respect to claims where the award is less than $25,000, the plaintiff will not be entitled to an award of costs. Nevertheless, there will be situations where there is sufficient reason to bring the action in the Supreme Court. It will be for the Court to examine the circumstances of each particular case to determine whether or not there is sufficient reason.

For more cases addressing sufficient reasons to sue in Supreme Court you can click here to access my archived posts on this topic.

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:
[9] 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.

More on ICBC's Subrogated Costs Rights (Or Lack Thereof)

Earlier this year the BC Supreme Court released reasons for judgement finding that when a Defendant succeeds in a lawsuit and is awarded costs the order is for their benefit not their insurer.  In short the Court held that ICBC has no subrogated right to costs awards under section 84(1) of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, taking an opposite view of this issue.
In this week’s case (Habib v. Jack) the Plaintiff was injured while riding on a bus.  She sued the bus driver and bus company but had her claim dismissed at trial.  The Defendant was awarded costs with Madam Justice Ross giving ICBC the benefit of this costs award.  The Court provided the following brief reasons:
In the result, the defendants will have their costs. Under s. 84(1) of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 231, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (“ICBC”) is subrogated to its insured and is entitled to recover the costs to which the insured would be entitled. Accordingly, ICBC is entitled to recover the costs awarded to the defendants.
Given the contradictory recent court findings on this issue I suspect the BC Court of Appeal will be asked to weigh in on the topic of insurers subrogated rights to costs following the successful defence of a lawsuit.

More on Costs and the Flexibility of the New Rules of Court


(Update June 5, 2013- the underlying trial verdict was upheld in reasons for judgement released today by the BC Court of Appeal)
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As previously discussed, one of the best changes in the New Rules of Court is the ability for trial judges to have discretion in assessing costs consequences where one party bests their formal settlement offer at trial.
Generally where a Plaintiff fails to beat a Defence formal settlement offer they can be punished with a significant costs award.  Fortunately Rule 9-1 does not force a Court to this result and instead leaves some discretion in the process.   This discretion was demonstrated in reasons for judgement released last week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry.
In last week’s case (Gatzke v, Sidhu) ICBC, on the Defendant’s behalf, made a formal settlement offer of $50,000.  The Plaintiff proceeded to trial and after a split finding of liability was assessed damages at “an amount to someting less than $10,000“.
ICBC brought a motion to be awarded post offer costs.  Mr. Justice Saunders refused to make this order instead simply ordering that the Plaintiff be deprived of her post offer costs and that the Plaintiff pay the disbursements associated with bringing the Defendant’s IME doctor to trial.  In reaching this result the Court provided the following reasons:

[14] …. Ordinarily, where a plaintiff obtains judgment for less than the amount offered in settlement, the legislative purpose of the Rule would be fulfilled by awarding the defendant its costs from the date the offer was made.  However, where there is a very significant gap between the judgment amount and the offer, it may be the case that a defendant is in a better position for having gone to trial, even taking its counsel’s fees into account.  This appears to have quite possibly been the case in the present circumstances.  The damages assessed, net of the plaintiff’s contributory negligence, are a small fraction of the offer.

[15]Defendants should not be discouraged from making generous settlement offers.  But where the end result is dramatically different than the offer resulting in a net savings to the defendant, a defendant found to be partially at fault can reasonably expect to bear some of the cost of obtaining that result.

[16]The plaintiff apparently has very limited financial means.  This factor, however, will be given the most weight where it is the subject accident, or other issue between the parties, which is responsible for the plaintiff’s circumstances.  That is not the case here.

[17]The defendants, on the other hand, were presumably being defended by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia.  An insured defendant’s greater financial ability to defend is a factor which was described by the B.C. Court of Appeal in Smith v. Tedford, 2010 BCCA 302, as being a matter “of no small importance to considering whether and to what extend the financial circumstances of the parties, relative to each other, bear on an award of costs”.

[18]This appears to have been a case where both parties undertook a course of action based on an overestimation of the risk to the defendants.  There is no compelling case, in the circumstances, for awarding the defendants the entirety of their post-offer costs.  Given the plaintiff’s financial circumstances and the very modest damages, the purpose of the Rule will be met by awarding the plaintiff 30% of her costs to the date of the offer, and awarding the defendants only the disbursements incurred in association with the attendance at trial of their expert witness, Dr. Sovio.  Dr. Sovio’s attendance at trial was only required for cross-examination at the plaintiff’s request, and it is appropriate that this cost be borne by the plaintiff.  That amount is to be set off against the plaintiff’s award of damages.

No "Principled Basis" To Award ICBC Costs Following Trial in Place of Defendant


As previously discussed, the BC Supreme Court has a “loser pays” system.  In short this means that the losing party generally has to pay the winning sides costs.  Since most personal injury lawsuits are defended by ICBC (or other insurance companies) do they get the benefit of a costs award when they are on the winning side of a lawsuit or do the costs get paid to the insured Defendant?  Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing this interesting issue.
In last week’s case (Wong v. Lee) the Plaintiff sued for damages following a motor vehicle collision.  The lawsuit was dismissed with Jury finding that the Defendant was not responsible for the crash.  Ultimately the Plaintiff was ordred to pay the Defendant costs.  ICBC argued the costs award should be in their favour (presumably to make it easier to exercise their collections rights under the Insurance (Vehicle) Act).  Madam Justice Dardi refused to make this order finding that there is no ‘principled basis’  to do so.  The Court provided the following reasons:
[35] The defendants contend that any costs awarded to them ought to be paid directly to ICBC, who is not a party to this proceeding. The defendants acknowledge that there does not appear to be any authority directly on point.


[36] The paramount principle to be derived from the authorities is that any discretionary exceptions to the usual costs rules must be made judicially: Bailey v. Victory (1995) 4 B.C.L.R. (3d) 388, 57 B.C.A.C. 23 (C.A.) at para. 13.

[37] The defendants primarily anchor their submissions on s. 84(1) of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 231 [formerly s. 26 of the Insurance (Motor Vehicle) Act]. Section 84(1) of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act provides as follows:

84  (1) On making a payment of benefits or insurance money or assuming liability for payment of benefits or insurance money, an insurer

(a) is subrogated to and is deemed to be the assignee of all rights of recovery against any other person liable in respect of the loss, damage, bodily injury or death of a person to whom, on whose behalf or in respect of whom the payment of benefits or insurance money is made or to be made, and

(b) may bring action in the name of the insured or in its own name to enforce the rights referred to in paragraph (a).

[38] On a plain reading of s. 84(1) of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act, the provisions pertain to the statutory subrogation issues between the insured and the insurer, which issues were not before me in this litigation. It is axiomatic that this subsection is not determinative of the dispute between the plaintiff and the defendants in this case. An award of costs to ICBC, who is not a party to this proceeding, would constitute a departure from the usual rule that the defendants who were the successful parties in this litigation be awarded costs. In my view, these statutory provisions do not establish a basis for an order displacing the usual rule…

[44] While the Court of Appeal in Perez v. Galambos, 2008 BCCA 382, recognized the jurisdiction to make a costs award in relation to a non-party, the Court observed that such an award is unusual and exceptional, and should only be made in “special circumstances” (at para. 17). The Court stated that a non-party who is funding litigation can be liable for costs as the real litigant if they have put forward an insolvent party as a “man of straw” to avoid liability for costs or if the non-party has promoted the litigation improperly so as to be liable for the tort of maintenance. The Court in Perez declined to order that the insurer who defended the action pay the costs of the successful plaintiff. Since the facts in this case are clearly distinguishable from those in Perez, that case does not assist the defendants. Moreover, I also note that neither counsel brought it to the Court’s attention that this decision was reversed by the Supreme Court of Canada and the issue of costs was left to the parties to resolve or, in the alternative, remanded back to the Court of Appeal for further consideration. It does not appear that there has been any further consideration by the Court of Appeal.

[45] In their submissions the defendants also cite Qureshi (Guardian ad litem of) v. Nickerson (1991), 77 D.L.R. (4th) 1, 53 B.C.L.R. (2d) 379 (C.A.). However, in my view there is no principle to be derived from Qureshi that supports the defendants’ submission that ICBC should be entitled to an award of costs in this case. In that case, the plaintiff argued that the defendant had not incurred any costs in his successful defence of a medical malpractice claim because those costs had been paid on his behalf by the Canadian Medical Protective Association. The Court of Appeal found that there was no contract of indemnification and no right of subrogation between the defendant and the Canadian Medical Protective Association. The Court concluded that in the absence of a right of subrogation, and having not incurred any liability for fees and disbursements in defending the claim, the defendant was not entitled to a costs award against the plaintiff.

[46] In summary on this issue, I am not persuaded that in the circumstances of this case, there is any principled basis upon which this Court should order that the plaintiff pay costs to the non-party ICBC.


Rule 15-1 and Pre Trial Settlement Costs


Useful reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Chilliwack Registry, addressing costs consequences when fast track cases settle prior to the first day of trial.  In short the Court held that the rules operate to fix lump sum costs of $6,500 in these circumstances.
In today’s case (Gill v. Widjaja) the Plaintiff was injured in a collision.  The Plaintiff sued pursuant to Rule 15.  ICBC made a formal settlement offer of $34,800 plus assessable costs and disbursements.  Following this the parties could not agree on some of the disbursement items.  The matter was ultimately put before the Court and in adjudicating the dispute Master Baker confirmed that costs under Rule 15 are set via lump sum.  Specifically the Court provided the following useful reasons:


[16] Tariff amount and Rule 15-1. The real question is: how much should the fee mandated by Rule 15-1, when the matter is settled without trial, be further affected by preparation or lack thereof?  Counsel agree that the starting sum is $8,000.00 and that, since no trial proceeded, there should be a reduction of one day’s costs ($1,500.00). After that they disagree. Mr. Cope says there should be the equivalent of one-half day’s trial cost added back in for trial preparation. Ms. Tonge says $2,000.00 should be further deducted. Certainly, the Rule permits departure from the indicated amount, as it is prefaced with “Unless the court otherwise orders…”.

[17] I start with the assumption that, once the portion attributed to the first day of trial is deducted, the balance is allocated to preparation. It would take compelling facts and circumstances to depart from that simple principle. And that simple principle should be applied when one recalls that the costs provisions of Rule 15-1 are intended to be summary in nature and to avoid assessments such as this. Counsel referred me to other authorities considering and, in effect, parsing pre-trial proceedings, but those cases seem to apply to situations where Rule 37 or 37B offers were made and either accepted or refused. In those cases, of course, it became important to mark the point in the proceedings when the offer was made and to then invoke the Rules’ effects on costs for the proceedings thereafter. In such a case it would require that some assessment be made of the degree of preparation done at the point of the offer. This is not that case.

[18] Mr. Cope argued that Ms. Gill was due some allowance for preparation, yet the tariff items in his bill included Item 17 “All process and correspondence associated with retaining and consulting all experts…” and Item 18 “All process and correspondence associated with contacting, interviewing and issuing subpoenas to all witnesses”. While the items do not apply per se, as Rule 15-1(15)’s omnibus cap does instead, Mr. Cope obviously considered all of that to include most, if not all, of the usual allowable stages of preparation. His draft in the form presented is a tacit admission of that. Moreover, as Ms. Tonge pointed out, there is no evidence of any unusual preparation having occurred before the offer was made and accepted.

[19] Similarly, there is no basis to take the reverse view and conclude that, given the matter settled seven weeks before trial, that no, or substantially no, preparation would have taken place. Quite the contrary: it is clear that Mr. Cope took the usual steps to obtain and organize the evidence he would need to that point and that those preparations were sufficient that he and Ms. Gill were prepared to settle.

[20] In the end there is no basis for any intervention by me, either to deduct or add in, respecting preparation costs. The only deduction from the fast track capped cost will be $1,500.00 representing the first day of trial.

[21] In sum, then, the fee portion of Ms. Gill’s bill of costs is fixed at $6,500.00


Access to Discovery and Summary Trial "Sufficient Reason" to Sue in Supreme Court


As previously discussed, a litigant who receives less than $25,000 in damages following a Supreme Court trial is dis-entitled to costs unless they have ‘sufficient reason’ to sue in the Supreme Court.  Reasons for judgement were released today canvassing this area of law.
In today’s case (Mehta v. Douglas) the Plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle collision.  He sued and following trial was awarded just over $18,000 in damages.  ICBC argued the Plaintiff should not be awarded costs because he did not have sufficient reason to sue in the Supreme Court.  Mr. Justice Harris disagreed and found that access to examinations for discovery and summary trials were were sufficient for commencing the lawsuit in the Supreme Court.  In awarding the Plaintiff costs the Court provided the following reasons:

[9] I accept the submissions of the plaintiff. In my view, the plaintiff required counsel to present her case. It would be unjust to deny her costs that would permit her partially to defray the expense of retaining counsel. Although it would have been difficult to predict at the outset whether this matter would prove to be suitable for summary determination, the availability of examinations for discovery and the possibility of summary trial are both factors that in the circumstances of this case are sufficient to justify starting the action in this court. The availability of these procedures and their potential to promote a proportionate and efficient use of resources is something that would be known at the outset. In my view, it would be unjust to deprive the plaintiff of costs in circumstances where knowing of those procedures she has subsequently used them efficiently.

[10] Although the plaintiff did not initially plead the injuries that ultimately formed the primary basis of the summary trial, I accept that it is appropriate to be cautious in assessing what could reasonably be predicted as the quantum for a damages claim when the action is started, particularly in the case of an infant. While on the facts that were known concerning the minor nature of the plaintiff’s soft tissue injuries and the speed with which they had resolved, it would have been unlikely that the award would exceed the small claims jurisdiction, but the exact value of the claim nevertheless could not be predicted accurately. Given the uncertainties facing the plaintiff at the time she started the action, it was not unreasonable to start it in this court.

[11] Taking all of these factors into account, I am of the view that the plaintiff had sufficient reason to start this action in this court and accordingly she is entitled to her costs in accordance with Schedule B.

The High Risk of Personal Injury Trials: The Costs and Disbursements Swing


As previously discussed, personal injury trials can be risky and expensive.  The British Columbia Supreme Court has a so-called ‘loser pays’ system which generally makes the losing side pay the winning side’s costs and disbursements (the hard expenses associated with running a trial such as court filing and expert witness fees).  Last month the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, released reasons for judgement demonstrating this reality.
In this recent case (Sartori v. Gates) the Plaintiff was injured in 2005 when a truck owned by his friend accidentally struck him.  The Plaintiff sued for damages.  As the lawsuit progressed ICBC made a formal settlement offer of $230,000 plus costs and disbursements.
The Plaintiff presented his own formal offer of $600,000 plus costs and disbursements.   These offers were rejected and the claim proceeded to trial.  Ultimately a jury found the Plaintiff 33.3% at fault for the collision but accepted that he was injured and awarded damages.
When all the dust settled, the Plaintiff was awarded $234,000.  ICBC argued that since the final result was “within a knife’s edge” of their offer that the Plaintiff should be stripped of his post offer costs and disbursements.  This was a significant development because the Plaintiff spent over $120,000 in disbursements while advancing his claim.
Ultimately Mr. Justice Wilson found that this result would not be fair.  However, the Court disallowed disbursements associated with one of the Plaintiff’s expert witnesses and further reduced the disbursements the Plaintiff was entitled to by 1/3 to take into account the jury’s finding of fault and section 3 of the Negligence Act.  Some quick math reveals this results in about $40,000 of the real costs of advancing the claim not being recovered by the Plaintiff.  This large swing highlights the need to consider potential costs consequences when deciding whether to settle an ICBC claim or to proceed to trial.
This recent case is also noteworthy for a few other reasons.  ICBC argued that the usual rule of a winner receiving costs should not be followed given how close the settlement offer was to the jury verdict.   Mr. Justice Wilson rejected this argument providing the following useful reasons:

[42] The governing principle on the first issue, is R. 14-1(9).  The material words of that subrule, on this application, are:

… costs of a proceeding must be awarded to the successful party unless the court otherwise orders.

[43] The onus is on the defendant to persuade me why I should otherwise order….

[55] The plaintiff reminds me that the discretion conferred by the cost rules must be exercised judicially.  The parameters of that judicial duty were referred to in Stiles v. B.C. (Workers’ Compensation Board), and iterated consistently thereafter.  The court said:

… The discretion must be exercised judicially, i.e. not arbitrarily or capriciously.  And, as I have said, it must be exercised consistently with the Rules of Court.  But it would be a sorry result if like cases were not decided in like ways with respect to costs.  So, by judicial comity, principles have developed which guide the exercise of the discretion of a judge with respect to costs.  Those principles should be consistently applied; if a judge declines to apply them, without a reason for doing so, he may be considered to have acted arbitrarily or capriciously and not judicially.

[56] The Rules of Court mentioned in that extract are those cited above.  The “principles … developed …” or “purposes”, were referred to in Giles v. Westminster Savings and Credit Union:

The purposes for which costs rules exist must be kept in mind in determining whether appellate intervention is warranted.  In addition to indemnifying a successful litigant, those purposes have been described as follows by this Court:

•     “[D]eterring frivolous actions or defences”:  Houweling Nurseries Ltd. v. Fisons Western Corp. (1988), 37 B.C.L.R. (2d) 2 at 25 (C.A.), leave ref’d, [1988] S.C.C.A. No. 200, [1988] 1 S.C.R. ix;

•     “[T]o encourage conduct that reduces the duration and expense of litigation and to discourage conduct that has the opposite effect”:  Skidmore v. Blackmore (1995), 2 B.C.L.R. (3d) 201 at para. 28 (C.A.);

•     “[E]ncouraging litigants to settle whenever possible, thus freeing up judicial resources for other cases”:  Bedwell v. McGill, 2008 BCCA 526, 86 B.C.L.R. (4th) 343 at para. 33;

•     “[T]o have a winnowing function in the litigation process” by “requir[ing] litigants to make a careful assessment of the strength or lack thereof of their cases at the commencement and throughout the course of the litigation”, and by “discourag[ing] the continuance of doubtful cases or defences”:  Catalyst Paper Corporation v. Companhia de Navegaçao Norsul, 2009 BCCA 16, 88 B.C.L.R. (4th) 17 at para. 16.

[57] Giles is also authority for the proposition that the “usual rule” is that costs follow the event…

Here, this plaintiff did succeed.  The defendant’s argument is that he did not succeed to the extent of his aspirations.  Therefore, goes the argument, the defendant should have the costs of establishing that failure.

[81] In my opinion, that proposition is not a phenomenon contemplated by R. 14?1(14) or Forrest v. Gaidner.

[82] My conclusion on the first issue is that the defendant has not persuaded me that this is a case on which I should otherwise order.  The plaintiff is entitled to his costs, subject to the disallowance of one day of trial and disbursements associated with Dr. Hunt’s involvement.

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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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