Tag: discovery

Losing Your Case With Your Own Evidence – More on Effective Cross Examinations

One of the most powerful tools a trial lawyer has is cross-examination.  In cross examination a lawyer can pose leading questions forcing a witness to agree or disagree and in doing so the lawyer seeks to get admissions that help his client’s case or hurt his opponent’s case.
In pre-trial examinations for discovery a lawyer has the right to ‘cross-examine‘ the opposing party.  By that I mean a lawyer is permitted to control the examination with leading questions.  If done effectively damage can be done to the your opponents case.  Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, demonstrating the results of a persuasive cross examination.
In today’s case (Mann v. Rainsford) the Plaintiff was injured while viewing a neighbour’s open house.  As the Plaintiff was leaving the house she mis-stepped on a concrete slap (basically a step) along a pathway from the home to the sidewalk.  Having mis-stepped the Plaintiff fell and was injured.  She sued the home-owner claiming that this concrete slab was a hazard and that steps should have been taken to guard against this injury.
Mr. Justice Wilson of the BC Supreme Court disagreed and dismissed the Plaintiff’s lawsuit.   The Court noted that the Plaintiff’s injuries “were caused solely by her own inattention“.  The Court reached this decision largely by the Plaintiff’s own evidence which was given at examination for discovery.  The Plaintiff’s evidence clearly had a damaging impact on her case and the discovery exchange is worth reviewing for anyone learning about cross examination in personal injury lawsuits.  The damaging cross examination was as follows:

[29] The plaintiff explained the mechanics of the incident, at her examination for discovery, as follows:

92   Q  Tell me what you did when you left the house.

A   I walked out of the front door and I stepped down the first step.  And I remember I was looking at the garden.  And I tripped.  And I went to grab the handrail, but there was no handrail there and I fell forward down the step.

96   Q  You said you were looking at the garden?

A   Mm-hmm, yes.

97   Q  Which area of the garden were you looking at?

A   On the left-hand side coming out.

98   Q  So the right-hand side of the photograph, you were looking over that way?

A   Yes.

100 Q  You didn’t slip on anything, is that right?

A   No.

101 Q  And you didn’t trip on anything, did you?

A   No, there was no object there.

102 Q  You misstepped, is that right?

A   Yes.

128 Q  So you stepped off the landing onto —

A   The step, yes.

129 Q  — down the first step, and you did that fine.

A   Yes.

130 Q  So you got down onto, say, the second landing?

A   Yes.

131 Q  And then you went forward?

A   Yes.

132 Q  And then what happened?

A   I tripped on that step, as far as I can remember.

133 Q  So you were looking at the garden to the left?

A   Yes.

137 Q  Why did you fall?  Do you know why you fell?

A   It wasn’t a normal configuration of steps going down, so I missed it.

138 Q  You just went up it 30 minutes earlier.

A   That’s correct.

139 Q  So you knew that there was a step and a landing and another step and a landing from when you just went up 30 minutes earlier, right?

A   I saw it as I went up, but I wasn’t looking at the stairs as I came down, because I don’t normally have to look and check to see where the steps are when you’re going down.

140 Q  You knew that this isn’t a staircase like at your house.  You knew that when you got there and you knew that when you went to go up into the house, right?

A   I saw it when I went up.

141 Q  So you knew that there were landings in between the steps and that you would have to walk to get to the next step, right?

A   Yes.

142 Q  I’m just trying to find out what was surprising to you that it was the same on the way out as it was on the way in.

A   I guess I hadn’t recalled the configuration when I left.

144 Q  So it was the same on the way out as it was on the way in?

A   Yes.

145 Q  It was simply just that you misstepped when you left the house, isn’t that right?

A   That’s correct, yes.

When preparing for discovery or trial you need to know that the defence lawyer will try to harm your case and must be prepared for a leading cross examination.  If not, you risk causing significant and possibly preventable damage to your claim.

More on ICBC Injury Claims and the "Implied Undertaking of Confidentiality"


As I’ve previously written, when a lawsuit for damages is brought in the BC Supreme Court, the parties are required to make disclosure of certain relevant documents even if such disclosure is harmful to their interests.
In order to strike a balance between fulsome disclosure and privacy rights, the Courts have developed a law known as the “implied undertaking of confidentiality” which prohibits a party who receives this forced disclosure from making use of the documents/information outside of the lawsuit without consent of the other parties or a court order.  Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Kelowna Registry, dealing with this area of the law.
In today’s case (ICBC v. Titanich) the Defendant was involved in a motor vehicle accident and apparently injured another party named Swan.  Swan sued the Defendant.  ICBC apparently held that the Defendant was in breach of his policy of insurance and defended the lawsuit as a ‘statutory third party‘.  ICBC obtained a Court Order for disclosure of the RCMP records relating to the accident and then settled the Plaintiff’s personal injury lawsuit for some $346,000.  ICBC then sued the Defendant to recover the $346,000 on the basis that they alleged he was in breach of his insurance.
ICBC apparently relied on some of the information obtained in the RCMP files to base their decision to pursue the Defendant for repayment of the $346,000.  The Defendant brought a motion to dismiss the lawsuit arguing that ICBC “breached its implied undertaking of confidentiality in relation to the documents it obtained from the RCMP“:.
The Court ultimately dismissed the motion holding that while ICBC did indeed breach their implied undertaking, no remedy was necessary since ICBC would be granted judicial permission to use the RCMP records in the current lawsuit had they brought a motion seeking such an order.  In reaching this conclusion Mr. Justice Barrow summarized and applied the law of the “implied undertaking” as follows:

[13]        In Juman v. Doucette, [2008] 1 S.C.R. 157, 2008 SCC 8, Binnie J. addressed the scope of the implied undertaking and its underlying rationale. At para. 4, he wrote:

[4]        Thus the rule is that both documentary and oral information obtained on discovery, including information thought by one of the parties to disclose some sort of criminal conduct, is subject to the implied undertaking. It is not to be used by the other parties except for the purpose of that litigation, unless and until the scope of the undertaking is varied by a court order or other judicial order or a situation of immediate and serious danger emerges.

[Emphasis in the original]

[14]        The rationale for the rule is, in part, to promote complete and candid oral and documentary discovery which, in turn, advances the orderly and effective administration of justice. It does that by providing the litigant making discovery with some confidence that the material produced will be used only for the purpose of securing justice in that proceeding.

[15]        Given this rationale, it is worthy of note that the discovery in issue in the matter at hand did not emanate from a party to the litigation. It does not consist of either oral or documentary discovery produced by Mr. Spinks. It is, rather, information gathered by the police in a process entirely independent of this litigation. I note this not because it necessarily follows that documents produced by third parties are not subject to the implied undertaking but rather because it is a factor that may be taken into account in determining whether a remedy ought to be granted…

[17]        The next issue is whether the plaintiff has used the discovery. The “use” that the plaintiff has made of the information is limited to listing those documents in a list of documents. That constitutes “use” within the meaning of the rule (Chonn v. DCFS Canada Corp. dba Mercedez-Benz Credit Canada, 2009 BCSC 1474 at paras. 47?52).

[18]        Assuming that the undertaking extends to documents produced by third parties to earlier litigation but relating to the conduct or affairs of a party to that litigation, I am satisfied that the plaintiff breached the implied undertaking.

[19]        In Juman, Binnie J. wrote this about the range of available remedies for breach of the implied undertaking:

[29]      Breach of the undertaking may be remedied by a variety of means including a stay or dismissal of the proceeding, or striking a defence, or, in the absence of a less drastic remedy, contempt proceedings for breach of the undertaking owed to the court…

Further, it may be that the breach can be remedied by precluding the party in breach from using the evidence in question. That was the remedy applied in Edgeworth Construction Ltd. v. Thurber Consultants Ltd., 2000 BCCA 453, 78 B.C.L.R. (3d) 200.

[20]        Another possible remedy, and the one sought in Chonn is removal of counsel of record for the party in breach…Voith J. concluded that the defendant was in breach of the implied undertaking but declined to grant a remedy. In doing so, he made four points. First, he noted that the documents were relevant. Second, he observed that had the defendant applied to obtain the court’s leave to make use of the documents, leave would have been granted. Third, he noted that although counsel ought to have made an application, his error was not, in all the circumstances, serious. Finally, and largely as a result of the above, there was no prejudice to the plaintiff. As a result, he ordered that the plaintiff produce the documents and that the defendants were at liberty to use them.

[21]        The same four observations apply in the case at bar. The documents are relevant. The outcome of an application to be relieved of the implied undertaking, had it been made, is predictable. Binnie J. commented on the manner in which a court’s discretion might be exercised when faced with such an application. At para. 35, he wrote:

[35]      The case law provides some guidance to the exercise of the court’s discretion. For example, where discovery material in one action is sought to be used in another action with the same or similar parties and the same or similar issues, the prejudice to the examinee is virtually non-existent and leave will generally be granted…

The example posited is this case. Next counsel’s conduct in this case is, if anything, less serious than that in Chonn. As in Chonn, plaintiff’s counsel in the present case raised the issue of the implied undertaking in his first conversation with Mr. Titanich’s lawyer. In doing so, he noted that he was of the view that he required the consent of the plaintiff in the previous action before disclosing the documents. He did not suggest that he needed Mr. Titanich’s consent presumably because Mr. Titanich was not a party of record in the earlier action. Mr. Titanich’s counsel did not suggest otherwise. She simply asked that the documents be forwarded to her. The understanding that Mr. Spinks had from the conversation with Ms. Roy was that they would each list the documents and that all he needed to do was obtain the consent of the plaintiff in the previous action. He obtained that consent and listed the documents.

[22]        Although for the reasons indicated, I think Mr. Spinks was required to obtain the consent of Mr. Titanich, in concluding otherwise, he was not acting in a cavalier manner but was rather proceeding carefully and on the basis of an analysis that appeared to have been shared Mr. Titanich’s own lawyer.

[23]        In all of these circumstances, there is, in my judgment, no need for any remedy.

While ICBC was not penalized for breaching the implied undertaking this case serves as a reminder that lawyers must respect the limits the law imposes on the use of documents which come within their possession through the compelled disclosure of the BC Rules of Court.  Failing to heed these restrictions can result in severe consequences as outlined in today’s case including removal from the case, exclusion of evidence or even dismissal of a lawsuit or a defence

Examinations For Discovery and Your BC Injury Claim – A Video Introduction

Here is a video I’ve uploaded to YouTube discussing examinations for discovery in BC Injury lawsuits:

An Examination for Discovery is a process where the opposing side can bring you in front of a Court Reporter and get your sworn answers to questions about relevant topics. Discoveries are designed to learn about your case and to hurt your case.  It is one of the most important pre-trial steps in Injury litigation and a Plaintiff’s evidence can play a key role in whether the case settles or proceeds to trial.
In ICBC claims some of the usual topics that are covered are the circumstances of the accident, the injuries sustained, the expenses incurred, the course of recovery of the injuries, wage loss details and other the effects of the accident related injuries on lifestyle  (You can click here to read a more in depth article about what is covered at a Discovery).
I hope this introductory video and the linked articles take some of the mystery out of the process.

Privacy Rights – Personal Injury Claims and Your Computer Hard Drive


A developing area of law is electronic discovery.
In the personal injury context the BC Supreme Court Rules require relevant, non privileged documents to be disclosed to opposing counsel.  The definition of document includes “any information recorded or stored by any means of any device“.  So, if there is relevant information, be it printed, on a computer or even on a cell phone, discovery needs to be made in compliance with the Rules of Court.
In recent years electronic documents have been the subject of court applications and Insurance companies / Defendants have sometimes been successful in gaining access to a Plaintiff computer’s hard drive.  Reasons for judgement were released today by the Supreme Court of Canada discussing court orders for the seizure of computer hard drives.
Today’s case (R v. Morelli) dealt with a criminal law matter.  However the Canadian High Court’s reasons may be of some use in the personal injury context.
By way of background the Defendant was charged with a criminal code offence.  One of the reasons for the charges was evidence that was apparently obtained from the Defendant’s computer which was seized pursuant to a search warrant.
The Defendant was convicted at trial.  The Supreme Court of Canada, in a very close split decision (4-3) overturned the conviction on the basis that the search warrant never should have been ordered because there were no reasonable and probable grounds to issue it.
While this case strictly dealt with criminal search warrants and the necessary evidence to obtain one, the Canadian High Court made some very strong comments about the intrusive effects of computer searches and this reasoning very well may have persuasive value for Courts considering whether they should give insurance companies access to Plaintiffs computers.  Specifically the Supreme Court of Canada provided the following comments:

[1]   This case concerns the right of everyone in Canada, including the appellant, to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure.  And it relates, more particularly, to the search and seizure of personal computers.

[2]  It is difficult to imagine a search more intrusive, extensive, or invasive of one’s privacy than the search and seizure of a personal computer.

3]  First, police officers enter your home, take possession of your computer, and carry it off for examination in a place unknown and inaccessible to you.  There, without supervision or constraint, they scour the entire contents of your hard drive: your emails sent and received; accompanying attachments; your personal notes and correspondence; your meetings and appointments; your medical and financial records; and all other saved documents that you have downloaded, copied, scanned, or created.  The police scrutinize as well the electronic roadmap of your cybernetic peregrinations, where you have been and what you appear to have seen on the Internet — generally by design, but sometimes by accident.

[4]  That is precisely the kind of search that was authorized in this case.  And it was authorized on the strength of an Information to Obtain a Search Warrant (“ITO”) that was carelessly drafted, materially misleading, and factually incomplete.  The ITO invoked an unsupported stereotype of an ill-defined “type of offender” and imputed that stereotype to the appellant.  In addition, it presented a distorted portrait of the appellant and of his surroundings and conduct in his own home at the relevant time…

[105] As I mentioned at the outset, it is difficult to imagine a more intrusive invasion of privacy than the search of one’s home and personal computer.  Computers often contain our most intimate correspondence.  They contain the details of our financial, medical, and personal situations.  They even reveal our specific interests, likes, and propensities, recording in the browsing history and cache files the information we seek out and read, watch, or listen to on the Internet. ..

[111] The public must have confidence that invasions of privacy are justified, in advance, by a genuine showing of probable cause.  To admit the evidence in this case and similar cases in the future would undermine that confidence in the long term.

When considering whether a Defendant should be allowed access to a Plaintiff’s computer in a personal injury lawsuit I should point out that the New BC Supreme Court Civil Rules will change the scope of documents that need to be disclosed.  Specifically, the test for what documents are discoverable will be altered.

Under the current system parties must disclose documents “relating to every matter in question in the action“.  Under the new rules this test has been changed to “all documents that are or have been in a parties possession or control that could be used by any party to prove or disprove a material fact” and “all other documents to which a party intends to refer at trial“.

This new test is supposed to be narrower in scope than the current one.  Time will tell how this new test will change disclosure requirements in the prosecution of personal injury actions however, given the fact that this new test will be applied alongside principles of proportionality there very well may be narrower disclosure requirements in smaller personal injury claims and greater obligations in the prosecution of more serious claims.
I will continue to write about this area of British Columbia personal injury law as it develops in the coming months.

Document Disclosure and Litigation Privilege – A Potentially Difficult Test to Meet

Further to my previous posts on the topic of ICBC Claims and Privilege, reasons for judgement were released yesterday by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, demonstrating that a party seeking to withhold documents on the basis of ‘litigation privilege’ may face an uphill battle.
In yesterday’s case (Celli v. White) the Plaintiff was a pedestrian who was struck by a vehicle.  The Plaintiff was injured and eventually sued for damages.  In the course of the lawsuit the Defendants refused to produce a number of documents relevant to the Plaintiff’s Claim on the basis that they were protected by ‘litigation privilege‘.
The Plaintiff obtained legal advice almost immediately after the accident.  As a result of this the defence lawyers argued that “litigation was inevitable from the outset.”  On this basis the Defendant refused to produce a number of documents which were gathered by the Defendant’s insurer in the immediate aftermath of this collision.
The Plaintiff applied to Court for production of a number of the allegedly privileged documents.  The Plaintiff was largely successful and the Defendants were ordered to produce a number of documents which were gathered by the Defendants insurer in the 6 months following the collision.  In reaching this decision Master Caldwell summarized the law of litigation privilege in the context of BC Injury Claims as follows:

[8] The leading case in this subject area is Hamalainen v. Sippola (1991), 62 B.C.L.R. (2d) 254 [Hamalainen].  In that case the Court of Appeal held that two factual determinations were required in order to uphold a claim of litigation privilege:

(1)        Was litigation in reasonable prospect at the time the document was produced,

(2)        If so, what was the dominant purpose for its production?

[9] The court indicated that while the first of these requirements would not likely be overly difficult to establish, the second would be more challenging:

22.       I am not aware of any case in which the meaning of “in reasonable prospect” has been considered by this Court. Common sense suggests that it must mean something more than a mere possibility, for such possibility must necessarily exist in every claim for loss due to injury whether that claim be advanced in tort or in contract. On the other hand, a reasonable prospect clearly does not mean a certainty, which could hardly ever be established unless a writ had actually issued. In my view litigation can properly be said to be in reasonable prospect when a reasonable person, possessed of all pertinent information including that peculiar to one party or the other, would conclude it is unlikely that the claim for loss will be resolved without it. The test is not one that will be particularly difficult to meet. I am satisfied it was met in this case in connection with all of the documents in issue. The circumstances of this accident, and the nature of Mr. Hamalainen’s injuries, were such that litigation was clearly a reasonable prospect from the time the claim was first reported on December 1st, 1986.

(b)        What was the dominant purpose for which the documents were produced?

23.       A more difficult question to resolve is whether the dominant purpose of the author, or the person under whose direction each document was prepared, was “… [to use] it or its contents in order to obtain legal advice or to conduct or aid in the conduct of litigation …”.

24.       When this Court adopted the dominant purpose test, it did so in response to a similar move by the House of Lords in Waugh v. British Railways Board, [1980] A.C. 521. In that case the majority opinion is to be found in the speech of Lord Wilberforce, who agreed “in substance” with the dissenting judgment of Lord Denning M.R. in the Court below. While the Court of Appeal judgments do not appear to have been reported, some excerpts from Lord Denning’s opinion are to be found in the speech of Lord Edmund-Davies, including the following at p. 541 of the report:

If material comes into being for a dual purpose – one to find out the cause of the accident – the other to furnish information to the solicitor – it should be disclosed, because it is not then “wholly or mainly” for litigation. On this basis all the reports and inquiries into accidents – which are made shortly after the accident – should be disclosed on discovery and made available in evidence at the trial.

25.       At the heart of the issue in the British Railways Board case was the fact that there was more than one identifiable purpose for the production of the report for which privilege was claimed. The result of the decision was to reject both the substantial purpose test previously adhered to by the English Court of Appeal and the sole purpose test which by then had been adopted by the majority of the Australian High Court in Grant v. Downs.

26.       Even in cases where litigation is in reasonable prospect from the time a claim first arises, there is bound to be a preliminary period during which the parties are attempting to discover the cause of the accident on which it is based. At some point in the information gathering process the focus of such an inquiry will shift such that its dominant purpose will become that of preparing the party for whom it was conducted for the anticipated litigation. In other words, there is a continuum which begins with the incident giving rise to the claim and during which the focus of the inquiry changes. At what point the dominant purpose becomes that of furthering the course of litigation will necessarily fall to be determined by the facts peculiar to each case.

27.       In that sense there is obviously no absolute rule that the decision to deny liability in such a claim must mark the point in which the conduct of litigation becomes the dominant purpose underlying the production of each and every document of the sort for which privilege was claimed in this case. But I do not read the master’s reasons as invoking any such absolute rule. He was faced with affidavit material filed by the party claiming privilege which was deficient in a number of respects. As already noted it failed to draw any distinction between the purpose underlying the production of individual documents. The risk inherent in that approach was pointed out by Mr. Justice Esson in the Shaughnessy Golf case at p. 319 of the report:

Privilege was claimed for a large number of documents. The grounds for it had to be established in respect of each one. By trying to extend to the whole list the considerations which confer privilege on most of the documents, the plaintiff has confused the issue and created the risk that, because it did not make in its evidence the distinctions that could have been made, it must be held not to have established privilege for any.

28.       Furthermore, the affidavit material concentrated on the repetitious assertion by each deponent of his belief that litigation in the case was inevitable, from which fact the dominant purpose underlying the production of all documents was apparently assumed. As already pointed out that approach to the onus facing the deponent on this question represented a mistaken view of the law.

[10] Gray J. echoed this sentiment at paragraphs 97 and 98 of Keefer Laundry Ltd. v. Pellerin Milnor Corp., 2006 BCSC 1180 as follows:

97.       The first requirement will not usually be difficult to meet.  Litigation can be said to be reasonably contemplated when a reasonable person, with the same knowledge of the situation as one or both of the parties, would find it unlikely that the dispute will be resolved without it. (Hamalainen v. Sippola, supra.)

98.       To establish “dominant purpose”, the party asserting the privilege will have to present evidence of the circumstances surrounding the creation of the communication or document in question, including evidence with respect to when it was created, who created it, who authorized it, and what use was or could be made of it. Care must be taken to limit the extent of the information that is revealed in the process of establishing “dominant purpose” to avoid accidental or implied waiver of the privilege that is being claimed.

[11] This dominant purpose test was also confirmed by Fish J. in the case of Blank v. Canada (Minister of Justice), 2006 SCC 39 at paragraphs 60 and 61:

60. I see no reason to depart from the dominant purpose test. Though it provides narrower protection than would a substantial purpose test, the dominant purpose standard appears to me consistent with the notion that the litigation privilege should be viewed as a limited exception to the principle of full disclosure and not as an equal partner of the broadly interpreted solicitor-client privilege. The dominant purpose test is more compatible with the contemporary trend favouring increased disclosure. As Royer has noted, it is hardly surprising that modern legislation and case law

[TRANSLATION] which increasingly attenuate the purely accusatory and adversarial nature of the civil trial, tend to limit the scope of this privilege [that is, the litigation privilege]. [para. 1139]

Or, as Carthy J.A. stated in Chrusz:

The modern trend is in the direction of complete discovery and there is no apparent reason to inhibit that trend so long as counsel is left with sufficient flexibility to adequately serve the litigation client. [p. 331]

61. While the solicitor-client privilege has been strengthened, reaffirmed and elevated in recent years, the litigation privilege has had, on the contrary, to weather the trend toward mutual and reciprocal disclosure which is the hallmark of the judicial process. In this context, it would be incongruous to reverse that trend and revert to a substantial purpose test.

In ordering that the Defendants produce the relevant documents the Court held that the dominant purpose of much of the defendants insurer’s early investigations was due to ‘adjusting‘ the potential claims as opposed to in response to anticipated ‘litigation‘.

Since ICBC is a monopoly insurer in British Columbia the analysis of the ‘adjusting‘ phase vs. the ‘litigation‘ stage will be triggered in most multi-party motor vehicle collisions.  The lesson to be learned is that many documents which are gathered by ICBC in the early stages which may prove harmful to a Defendant if disclosed may not be protected by privilege if they were gathered by for the dominant purpose of determining how a collision occurred.

BC Injury Claims and Document Disclosure – Can a Court Order a Plaintiff to "Consent"?

Important reasons for judgement came to my attention today dealing with discovery of documents in BC Injury Litigation.
The BC Supreme Court Rules require parties to give discovery of relevant documents in their possession or control.  Often times there are relevant documents that are not in the Plaintiff’s possession or control but the Plaintiff has the ability to easily get these documents.  (For example medical records documenting accident related injuries.)  Such records are commonly referred to as “Third Party Records”.
When a Defendant requests Third Party Records Plaintiff’s often consent, obtain the documents, and then exchange a copy of the relevant records.  When the parties don’t consent a Court Motion can be brought.
With this background in mind today’s case dealt with an important topic; when a motion for Third Party Records is brought can the Court order that the Plaintiff sign authorizations to allow the Defendant to get the records directly?  Mr. Justice Hinkson held that such a shortcut is not allowed under the Rules of Court.
In today’s case (Stead v. Brown) the Defendant “brought an application to require the plaintiff to execute consent forms for the production of the records of some ten doctors, three hospitals, two groups of physiotherapists, WorkSafeBC, the Ministry of Housing, and Service Canada“.
The Plaintiff opposed the application on the basis that the Court lacked the power to make such an order.  Mr. Justice Hinkson agreed and held that even if the requests were relevant a Court could not compel disclosure in this fashion, instead the Defendant would have to follow the procedure set out in Rule 26(11) of the BC Supreme Court Rules.
In reaching this conclusion Mr. Justice Hinkson was referred to the BC Court of Appeal decision Peel Financial Holdings Ltd. v. Western Delta Lands where the BC High Court held that “The Supreme Court judge cited no authority fo rhis power to compel a party to consent, and no authority for such a power was provided to us.  As I jhave said, a consent given pursuant to an order is a contradiciton in terms“.
Mr. Justice Hinkson went on to find that while there was another case (Lewis v. Frye) which held that a Supreme Court judge could compel a party to sign an authorization, that decision was wrong.  Specifically Mr. Justice Hinkson held as follows:
Regrettably the decision of the Court of Appeal in Peel Financial Holdings Ltd. was not considered which Hood J. and I am persuaded that the binding nature of that authority if considered would have altered the conclusion reached by him had the authority been brought to his attention.
I conclude that the plaintiff in this case cannot be ordered to execute authorizations for the release of records in the (hands) of third parties.  The mechanism that must be pursued in order to obtain the hospital and doctors’ records is pursuant to Rule 26(11) of the Rules of Court.
This decision is important because it clarifies the procedures that must be used when Defendants in Injury Lawsuits wish to obtain the records in the hands of Third Parties and the Plaintiff does not consent.  Time will tell whether the New Rules of Court which soon come into force will effect this reasoning.

The Law of "Common Interest Privilege" Discussed in the Context of BC Injury Lawsuits


Further to my many posts on the topic of discovery, when parties are involved in a lawsuit in the BC Supreme Court the Rules of Court require the parties to disclose certain information to the opposing side.  Generally all relevant information needs to be disclosed however there are exceptions to this and one such exception is ‘privilege‘.
Generally speaking (this is not an exhaustive list), privileged documents are documents that were created with an expectation of confidentiality between a party and his/her lawyer or documents that were created with the dominant purpose of advancing the parties interests in court.
The purpose behind the privilege exception to disclosure is to permit individuals to freely discuss their legal matters and work with their lawyers to advance their interests without the fear that these conversations/actions can come back to hurt the individuals interests later on.
The law recognizes an extension of privilege between one client and their lawyer to multiple people and that lawyer if the conversations took place in anticipation of a lawsuit and the multiple parties have a common interest.  This type of privilege is sensibly called ‘common interest privilege‘.  Reasons for judgement were released today discussing this area of law and highlighting some of the limitations of common interest privilege.
In today’s case (Peters v. Paterson) the Plaintiff was seriously injured while windsurfing when he was involved in a collision with a motorboat.  He eventually sued multiple parties including the people alleged to have been operating the boat (the “Motorboat Defendants”) and the people alleged to have rented the boat to the Motorboat Defendants (the “Renter Defendants”).
Before the lawsuit started one of the Renter Defendants apparently feared a potential lawsuit and retained the services of a lawyer.  That lawyer retained an adjuster who immediately took statements from a handful of people including the people who would later turn out to be the Motorboat Defendants.
After all the Defendants were sued by the Plaintiff the Renter Defendant who initially hired the lawyer issued a Third Party Notice against the Motorboat Defendants (a Third Party Notice is a document which alleges that if a certain defendant is found at fault and has to pay that the Third Party has to indemnify that defendant for the judgement).
The Plaintiff then asked for the statements of the Motorboat Defendants to be produced.  The Lawyer for the Renter Defendants refused citing ‘common interest privilege‘.  Ultimately an application was brought to court to force disclosure and the application succeeded.  Master Taylor of the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, held that the Third Party Notice took away any claim to common interest privilege.  The key reasons were as follows:

[13] Common interest privilege is said to be an extension of the privilege against disclosure of solicitor-client communications.  As Wigmore defines it:

The chief instance occurs when the same attorney acts for two parties having a common interest, and each party communicates with him.  Here the communications are clearly privileged from disclosure at the instance of a third person.  Yet they are not privileged in a controversy between the two original parties, inasmuch as the common interest and employment forbade concealment by either from the other.  (Wigmore’s emphasis)

[14] The defendants take the position that the statements in this case are covered by common interest privilege, which, they submit, applies to an exchange of confidential information between individuals who have a common interest in anticipated litigation.  The defendants cite Buttes Gas and Oil Co. v. Hammer (No. 3), [1980] 3 All E. R. 475 (C.A) in support of their position where Lord Denning says:

There is a privilege which may be called a “common interest” privilege.  That is a privilege in aid of anticipated litigation in which several persons have a common interest.  It often happens in litigation that a plaintiff or defendant has other persons standing alongside him – who have the self-same interest as he – and who have consulted lawyers on the self-same points as he – but these others have not been made parties to the action…All exchange counsel’s opinions.  All collect information for the purpose of litigation.  All make copies.  All await the outcome with the same anxious anticipation – because it affects each as much as it does the others.

[15] The defendants maintain that common interest privilege can apply to witness statements and in fact has been so applied in a number of Canadian cases.

[16] On the other hand, the plaintiff asserts that the case at bar is distinguishable from other cases in that there is no suggestion by the defendant or their counsel that counsel has ever worked in conjunction with the motorboat defendants to jointly advance the interests of all the defendants.  As well, the plaintiff maintains, there has not been any evidence led to indicate the motorboat defendants understood the reason for giving their statements, the uses their information would be put to, or that their statements would be kept privileged from the plaintiff.  In fact, in the instant case, two of the motorboat defendants have signed authorizations to release their statements to the plaintiff.

[17] In the recent decision in Maximum Ventures Inc. v. De Graaf, 2007 BCCA 510, Mr. Justice Mackenzie discussed the test for maintaining privilege between parties at paragraph 14:

Recent jurisprudence has generally placed an increased emphasis on the protection from disclosure of solicitor-client communications, including those shared in furtherance of a common commercial interest.  In the instant case the [solicitor’s] draft was produced within the recognized solicitor-client privileged relationship.  The common interest privilege issues arise in response to a plea of waiver of that privilege.  The common interest privileges is an extension of the privilege attached to that relationship.  The issue turns on whether the disclosures were intended to be in confidence and the third parties involved had a sufficient common interest with the client to support extension of the privilege to disclosure to them….Where legal opinions are shared by parties with mutual interests in commercial transactions, there is a sufficient interest in common to extend the common interest privilege to disclosure of opinions obtained by one of them to the others within the group, even in circumstances where no litigation is in existence or contemplated.

[18] And, at paragraph 16, Mackenzie, J.A. made the following finding:

The interests of the clients of the three solicitors were not identical but they were common to the extent that financing of the Western exploration of the Mongolian properties was beneficial to all of them.  They also shared an interest in assessing the invalidity of Maximum’s claims.

[19] The defendants maintain that even though two of the defendants have signed authorizations addressed to counsel for the defendants directing that their statements be released to counsel for the plaintiff, they cannot, in these circumstances, create a waiver over the common interest privilege by so doing.

[20] In my view, that argument begs the question for two reasons.  Firstly, were the persons from whom the statements taken to request copies of their statements, surely they would be entitled to receive copies of them as no privilege attaches to one’s own statement in the hands of a third party?  It would then be open to each of those parties to deliver a copy of their statements directly to the plaintiff.  Secondly, the defendant, Paterson, has issued third party proceedings against the four individual motorboat defendants for which he seeks judgment against the motorboat defendants, or indemnity from them in the event a judgment is rendered against Paterson.

[21] The Third Party Notice contains the following allegations:

a. The plaintiff’s windsurfer struck the port side of the motorboat;

b. The motorboat defendants represented that Arvinder Kaler would be the person operating the motorboat;

c. While Paterson does not know who was operating the boat at the time of the accident, it has been represented to Paterson that Sukhbir Brar was operating the motorboat at the time of the accident; and

d. the accident was caused solely by the negligence of the operators of the motorboat.

[22] In the circumstances, two things are apparent.  One, that the allegations made in the Third Party Notice are likely the result of information gleaned from the motorboat defendants, and, two, the defendant, Paterson, alleges the accident was caused solely by the negligence of the motorboat defendants, which creates the question: where is the commonality of interest between the renter defendants and the motorboat defendants such that a privilege continues to exist over the statements taken from the motorboat defendants?

[23] In my view, by the very nature of the Third Party Notice and the allegations made in it, there has been a severing of the commonality of interest of the defendants.  In the result, therefore, there is no common interest privilege which can be maintained, and, accordingly, the statements taken from the four motorboat defendants are no longer privileged and must be turned over to the plaintiff.

BC Court of Appeal Discusses In Trust Claims and Document Disclosure Requirements


Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Court of Appeal discussing two important legal principles in the context of personal injury claims, “In Trust” Claims and Document Disclosure requirements.
By way of brief background, in today’s case (Dykeman v. Porohowski) the Plaintiff was injured in two motor vehicle accidents.  Her matter went to trial and a Jury awarded $44,000 in total damages.  The Plaintiff was seeking substantially greater damages and she appealed alleging the trial judge made multiple errors.
The BCCA granted the appeal and ordered a new trial.  In doing so the Court made some useful comments about the above areas of law.
1.  In Trust Claims
Generally speaking when a person is injured through the fault of another and has limits they can be compensated for hiring others to help them with their limits.  If the help is provided free of charge by family members a claim can still be made and this is called an ‘in trust’ claim.
In today’s case the trial judge refused to put the “in trust” claim to the jury reasoning that injuries were not “grievous” enough for an in trust claim.   The Court of Appeal agreed that this was incorrect and that “grievousness” is not required to advance an in-trust claim.  The Court provided the following useful summary of the law:

[28] Since Kroeker, it has been settled law in this province that “housekeeping and other spousal services have economic value for which a claim by an injured party will lie even where those services are replaced gratuitously from within the family.”  In Kroeker, such recovery was allowed under the heading of ‘loss of future ability to perform household tasks’, but obviously, damages for loss of such ability prior to trial may also be properly claimed and recovered: see, e.g., McTavish v. MacGillivray, 2000 BCCA 164 at paras, 43, 51-7, perHuddart J.A.; West v. Cotton (1995) 10 B.C.L.R. (3d) 73 (C.A.) at para. 25; and Campbell v. Banman 2009 BCCA 484.  The reasoning in Kroeker has been extended beyond “spousal” services to services rendered by other members of a family: see Boren v. Vancouver Resource Society, Dufault, McTavish v. MacGillivray; Bystedt v. Hay, all supra.  Such awards are colloquially referred to as “in trust” even though it is the plaintiff who recovers them, and British Columbia courts do not generally impose trust terms in their orders, regarding the loss as that of the plaintiff: see Feng v. Graham (1988) 25 B.C.L.R. (2d) 116 (C.A.) at 9-10; McTavish, supra.

[29] The majority in Kroeker was alive to the possibility that awards for gratuitous services by family members of plaintiffs could “unleash a flood of excessive claims” (supra, at para. 29) and for that reason, urged courts to be cautious in making such awards.  In the words of Gibbs, J.A.:

… as the law has developed it would not be appropriate to deny to plaintiffs in this province a common law remedy available to plaintiffs in other provinces and in other common law jurisdictions. It will be the duty of trial judges and this Court to restrain awards for this type of claim to an amount of compensation commensurate with the loss. With respect to other heads of loss which are predicated upon the uncertain happening of future events measures have been devised to prevent the awards from being excessive. It would be reasonable to expect that a similar regime of reasonableness will develop in respect of the kind of claim at issue in this case.  [At para. 19; emphasis added.]

I do not read Kroeker or Ellis, however, as establishing a threshold of “grievousness” in terms of the injuries which may necessitate such services.  A plaintiff who has a broken arm, for example – presumably not a “grievous” injury – and who is obliged to seek assistance in performing various household tasks should not be foreclosed from recovery on this basis.  This was recognized in Ellis in the quotation reproduced above.  Thus I disagree with the trial judge’s reference to grievous injury as a threshold that the plaintiff was required to surmount if her claim was to go to the jury.  Instead, claims for gratuitous services must be carefully scrutinized, both with respect to the nature of the services – were they simply part of the usual ‘give and take’ between family members, or did they go ‘above and beyond’ that level? – and with respect to causation – were the services necessitated by the plaintiff’s injuries or would they have been provided in any event?  Finally, if these questions – which I would have thought are appropriate for determination by a jury – are answered affirmatively, the amount of compensation must be commensurate with the plaintiff’s loss.  The assessment of such loss has been the subject of several considered judgments in this province, most notably McTavish and Bystedt, both supra.

[30] The trial judge’s second reason for not putting the claim to the jury in this case was that the services which were the subject of the in-trust claim were not personal or household services but were related to the business operated by the plaintiff’s family.  As mentioned above, counsel evidently agreed that the plaintiff’s parents’ claim for ‘business losses’ had not properly been made.  It is not correct to say, however, that the plaintiff herself could not claim for assistance provided by family members in a family enterprise (see Johnson v. Miller, supra) or that there was no evidence of personal or household services having been provided by Ms. Dykeman’s parents to her.  The mother testified that she was “supposed to spend” a third of her time on the farm – in accordance with the partnership agreement in evidence – and had planned on going back to practice on a part-time basis.  Instead, she found herself spending at least 10 to 12 hours per week assisting in the business and babysitting her grandchildren when her daughter had medical appointments or migraine headaches.  At the time of trial, she testified, she was caring for her grandchildren “pretty well every day” plus assisting in the equestrian business.  The plaintiff’s migraines had become less frequent, but the medication she took for them essentially ‘knocked her out’ for 12-14 hours – during which Ms. Dykeman’s mother slept in the same room with her granddaughter.  The thrust of her evidence was that at least until her grandchildren were in school, she would not be able to return to practice even on a part-time basis.  Mr. Dykeman’s services, on the other hand, related almost entirely to “physical work” in the Freedom Fields Farm operation.

[31] In all the circumstances, it seems to me that there was evidence of household and other assistance provided by Ms. Dykeman’s parents that could have been the basis of an award and that the trial judge erred in effectively granting a ‘no evidence’ motion in respect thereof.  I would allow the appeal on this ground.

2. Document Disclosure Obligations

The second area highlighted in this case relates to document disclosure.  In pre-trial investigation the Defendants gathered a number of Internet postings apparently written by the Plaintiff.  They listed these documents as ‘privileged‘ and did not reveal them until shortly before trial.  In describing the privileged documents they labelled them as a “diskette containing an index to the Plaintiff’s web postings“.

The Plaintiff objected to these documents being used in cross examination but the trial judge allowed the cross examination.  On appeal the BCCA found that this was an error finding that the documetns were not properly described and this may have pejudieced the Plaintiff.  Specifically the BCCA said as follows:

[41] Applying these observations to the case at bar, can it be said that the descriptions reproduced above were such as to enable the plaintiff and her counsel, or a judge in chambers, to assess the validity of the claim of privilege?  In my opinion, none of the items was sufficiently described for this purpose.  Item 77, an index to the plaintiff’s “web postings”, could contain any number of “writings” posted on any number of websites, relevant or irrelevant to the case.  With respect to item 78, one does not know who wrote the “articles” regarding the plaintiff’s equestrian business or the date of such articles; with respect to item 79, there is no description of the “pictures printed out from the Internet regarding horse riding”, where they are from or what connection, if any, the plaintiff had with them; and with respect to item 80, there is again no description of the “articles”, who wrote them or when.  Counsel told the court below that the postings had all been written by the plaintiff, but even that was not apparent from the disclosure document.  Thus I disagree with the trial judge’s ruling that the postings had been adequately “listed” for purposes of R. 26.  (For a discussion of ‘e-discovery’ generally, see The Sedona Conference Working Group 7, The Sedona Canada Principle: Addressing Electronic Discovery (2008).)  If the defence had been more forthcoming, counsel for Ms. Dykeman might well have challenged the claim of privilege asserted by Mr. Harris – via the Form 93 filed by Mr. Gibb.

[42] Assuming, then, that the defence failed to make proper discovery of the Internet documents, the next question is whether it can be said the trial judge nevertheless properly exercised his discretion under the opening words of R. 26(14) to permit Ms. Dykeman to be cross-examined on some of those documents.  In Stone v. Ellerman, the majority stated that the factors relevant to the exercise of such discretion include the question of prejudice to the party being cross-examined, whether there was a reasonable explanation for the other party’s failure to disclose, whether excluding the document would prevent the determination of the issue on its merits, and whether in the circumstances of the case, the ends of justice require that the document be admitted.  In this case, counsel did not provide any “explanation” for the non-descriptiveness of Mr. Gibb’s list and argued only that disclosure hadbeen sufficient.  The trial judge therefore had no explanation to consider, even if he had been of the view that the listing was deficient.

[43] It is difficult to square the trial judge’s ruling on this second question with his prior ruling that the documents had been properly disclosed or ‘listed’.  If the latter was correct, there was no need to ‘balance’ the interests of justice in avoiding trial by ambush against the interests of justice in assessing Ms. Dykeman’s credibility by cross-examining her on the Internet postings.  Given that her lawyer had only half an hour to discuss the 124 pages with her, it cannot be said with any certainty that she was not prejudiced by what transpired.  At the end of the day, I am not confident that the apparent exercise of the trial judge’s discretion was fair to the plaintiff or rested on a correct understanding of the Rule.  I would therefore allow the appeal on this basis as well.

This case contains some other interesting comments which are worth reviewing, particularly with defence statements to the jury regarding adverse inference.  I urge all personal injury lawyers in BC to read this case in full as it thoroughly canvasses many areas that routinely arise in injury prosecution in this Province.

ICBC Injury Claims and Your Driving History

When you are involved in a suit for damages in an ICBC injury claim can you access the opposing parties driving history?  Reasons for judgement were recently brought to my attention making just such an order.
In the recent case (Rothenbusch v. Van Boeyen) the Plaintiff claimed damages against the Defendant.  Liability (fault for the car crash) was at issue.  During the examination for discovery the Plaintiff’s lawyer asked the Defendant how many speeding tickets he had.  He could not recall exactly and indicated “one or two“.   The lawyer then asked for him to produce his driving history and he refused.
In the application for production of the Defendant’s driving history Master Caldwell of the BC Supreme Court held that “(the Defendant) was unable to provide an actual firm answer (as to how many speeding tickets he had)…The defence says that the driving pattern is not particularly relevant, unlike defence requests for previous medical records and that type of thing.  She indicates that this is a highly invasive application with respect to the privacy of the Defendant, and that unlike a plaintiff who opens their life up to investigation when they commence an action, the same cannot be said of the defence.  I am not really satisfied that that is necessarily the case, particularly in a situation where liability is at issue as it is here.  I am satisfied based on the questions asked and answered  and the form of the answers contained in the discovery transcript, that this record as sought may be producible.”
Despite ordering production of this record the Court went on to note that the same may not be admissible at trial.  Specifically Master Caldwell held that “Whether or not (the driving record) is relevant and passes the test of admissibility of trial will be up to the trial judge…I will order that the Defendant provide a copy of his driving record for a period of three years prior to the …accident”.

The Disclosure Conflict: Civil vs. Criminal Law

When a person at fault for a car crash is sued by the innocent victims and at the same time faces criminal charges as a result of the accident competing needs for records disclosure arise.
In the course of the criminal defence trial Canadian law requires disclosure of the facts the prosecution has gathered against the accused.  This information can be very useful to the Plaintiff in the civil suit against the at-fault motorist.  Is the Plaintiff advancing a Civil Injury Claim entitled to this disclosure or does the law limit this disclosure until the criminal trial concludes?
Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Court of Appeal addressing disclosure rights when there are competing criminal and civil interests.
In today’s case (Wong v. Antunes) the Plaintiff’s son was struck and killed by a motor vehicle in 2005.  A civil lawsuit was started against the alleged driver Mr. Antunes.  At the same time the alleged driver was charged with ‘criminal negligence causing death’.
In the course of the criminal prosecution the Defendant was provided disclosure by Crown Counsel as required by Canadian law.   He refused to provide these documents to the Plaintiff in the civil lawsuit.  The Plaintiff brought a motion for production and largely succeeded.
The Attorney General for BC, the creator of the records, appealed this order. In allowing the appeal and in modifying the terms under which a civil litigant is entitled to disclosure of records produced in the prosecution of a criminal offence, the BC Court of Appeal held as follows:

[18] The case at bar is complicated, first, by Mr. Antunes’ refusal to even list the VPD documents as being in his possession and, second, by the Crown’s concern that some of the documents or information may jeopardize the on-going criminal proceedings.

[19] The chambers judge was alive to the problems associated with disclosure of the VPD documents.  It appears that he intended to adopt the approach to disclosure approved by the Ontario Court of Appeal in D.P. v. Wagg (2004), 239 D.L.R. (4th) 501, 71 O.R. (3d) 229, 184 C.C.C. (3d) 321 [“Wagg” cited to D.L.R.].

[20] Wagg bears some resemblance to the case before us.  It too concerned the right of a plaintiff to disclosure and production of documents in the possession of the defendant that the defendant obtained as a result of the disclosure process in criminal proceedings brought against the defendant.  In particular, the plaintiff was interested in obtaining statements given by the defendant to the police which the trial judge in the criminal proceedings had ruled as inadmissible because the statements were held to be obtained in violation of his Charter rights.

[21] The Ontario Court of Appeal ultimately endorsed the screening process formulated in the Divisional Court, holding, at para. 48-49:

Like the Divisional Court, I can see no practical way of protecting the interests discussed by that court and by the House of Lords in Taylor without giving the bodies responsible for creating the disclosure, the Crown and the police, notice that production is sought.  Further, where the Crown or police resist production the court must be the final arbiter.

I do not think that the various interests will be protected because of the implied undertaking rule in Rule 30.1.  The fact that civil counsel obtaining production is bound not to use the information for a collateral purpose may be little comfort for persons who once again find their privacy invaded, this time in civil rather than criminal proceedings.  Further, the Stinchcombe obligation on the police and Crown is very broad.  Subject to privilege the Crown must disclose all relevant information.  If there is a reasonable possibility that the withholding of information will impair the right of the accused to make full answer and defence, the information must be disclosed.  Crown counsel are urged in Stinchcombe at p. 339 to err on the side of inclusion and refuse to disclose only that which is clearly irrelevant.  The courts ought not to apply the discovery rules in civil cases in a way that could have an unintended chilling effect on Crown counsel’s disclosure obligations.

[22] The screening mechanism devised by the Divisional Court was summarized (and endorsed) by the Court of Appeal as follows, at para. 17:

· the party in possession or control of the Crown brief must disclose its existence in the party’s affidavit of documents and describe in general terms the nature of its contents;

· the party should object to produce the documents in the Crown brief until the appropriate state authorities have been notified, namely the Attorney General and the relevant police service, and either those agencies and the parties have consented to production, or on notice to the Attorney General and the police service and the parties, the Superior Court of Justice has determined whether any or all of the contents should be produced;

· the judge hearing the motion for production will consider whether some of the documents are subject to privilege or public interest immunity and generally whether “there is a prevailing social value and public interest in non-disclosure in the particular case that overrides the public interest in promoting the administration of justice though full access of litigants to relevant information” (para. 51).

[23] The Attorney General identifies a number of practical problems created by the impugned order.  The Stinchcombe package is assembled by the Crown, not the VPD.  The order, as it currently reads, requires the VPD to produce documents, despite the fact that it will not know whether these documents were part of the Stinchcombe package.  More importantly, the Attorney General maintains it is cumbersome in that it contemplates all documents being produced, subject to the police or Crown specifying why a particular document is not required to be produced.  Further, the order contemplates that the Crown must assert public interest immunity on a document by document basis.  The difficulty posed by effectively ordering disclosure of theStinchcombe package is that it fails to recognize that the disclosure under Stinchcombe serves a different purpose than disclosure in the civil context, and that to meld the two is an unfortunate development in the law.  Further, by failing to incorporate the public interest immunity claimed by the Crown in the order, it creates opportunities for unforeseen negative consequences.

[24] The preferable alternative, according to the Attorney General, is for the making of a desk order which recognizes the public interest in maintaining the confidentiality of police — Crown communications as a class, and leaving the parties with liberty to apply as to whether particular documents, or the whole class, should be disclosed in a particular case.

[25] In my opinion, the mischief identified by the Attorney General in the application of the impugned order, namely unfortunate unforeseen consequences that may impair the criminal proceedings, can be rectified by the form of order suggested by the Attorney General, which reads as follows:

ON THE APPLICATION of the [party], without a hearing and by consent;

THIS COURT ORDERS THAT:

1.         the [Chief Constable of municipal police force] [Officer in Charge or the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of the location Detachment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police], or his delegate (“the Police”) be authorized and directed to, within 35 days of receipt of a copy of this Order, find all documents as defined in the Supreme Court Rules, including all handwritten notes of all investigating officers, in the possession or control of the Police relating to [incident] (“the Incident”) and in particular file number [file number];

2.         the Police shall examine the said documents when found, and determine which documents or portions of documents may not be produced because they are:

(a)  any correspondence or communications between the Police and Crown Counsel, or between the Police and solicitors advising them, for the purpose of giving or receiving legal advice;

(b)  documents which it would be contrary to the public interest to produce, and in particular documents which if disclosed:

(i)  could reveal correspondence or communications between the Police and Crown Counsel other than those referred to in subparagraph (a);

(ii)  could prejudice the conduct of a criminal prosecution which is anticipated or has been commenced but not finally concluded, where the dominant purpose for the creation of the documents is that prosecution (not including reports, photographs, videotapes or other records of or relating to the Incident created by or for the Police on their attendance at the scene of the Incident or as a contemporaneous record of such attendance);

(iii)  could harm an ongoing statutory investigation or ongoing internal Police investigation;

(iv)  could reveal the identity of a confidential human source or compromises the safety or security of the source;

(v)  could reveal sensitive police investigation techniques; or

(vi)  could harm international relations, national defence or security or federal provincial relations;

(c)  protected from production by the Youth Criminal Justice Act (Canada), or by any other applicable statute;

3.         the Police shall copy the documents which satisfy the criteria for production referred to in paragraph 2 or such portions of the documents as satisfy the criteria for production referred to in paragraph 2;

4.         the Police shall make the copies available to the solicitor for the Applicant for inspection or collection at [address];

5.         the solicitor for the Applicant shall forthwith enter this Order and deliver a copy to the Police and the solicitors for the parties herein;

6.         any reasonable costs incurred by the Police for the retrieval, production, inspection, copying and delivery of the said documents shall be paid forthwith by the solicitor for the party requesting such retrieval, production, inspection and delivery of the said records;

7.         within seven days after receipt by the solicitor for the Applicant of the said documents from the Police pursuant to this Order, such solicitor shall provide each of the solicitors for the parties herein with a copy thereof and the solicitors for the parties herein shall be at liberty to examine the copies of the documents received by the solicitor for the Applicant from the Police;

8.         any party, the Police and the Attorney General of British Columbia, shall have liberty to apply to the Court to determine which, if any, documents are required to be produced pursuant to this order.

[26] In my opinion, the form of order suggested by the Attorney General balances the plaintiff’s need to obtain information in the police file with the Crown’s need to preserve the integrity of the criminal prosecution.  Further, it permits, in the appropriate case, full debate on the various privilege issues that may arise.

IV.        DISPOSITION

[27] It follows that I would allow the appeal and direct that an order in the form referred to above be entered.

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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.

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