Tag: formal settlement offers

Court Lacks Discretion To Deviate From Costs Agreement In Formal Settlement Offers


Authorities under the formal Rule 37B held that when a formal settlement offer dealing with costs consequences was accepted the BC Supreme Court had no discretion to make a different order with respect to costs.  The first case I’m aware of dealing with this issue under the New Rules was released today.  The Court upheld the principle developed under the former rule.
In today’s case (Sahota v. Sandulo) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2004 motor vehicle collision in Surrey, BC.  He started a lawsuit which was set for trial by Jury.  In the course of the lawsuit the Plaintiff incurred significant disbursements advancing the claim.  Fearful that the Jury trial would not go favorably the Plaintiff delivered a formal offer of settlement of $3,000 “plus court costs and disbursements“.  The Defendant accepted the formal offer.
The parties then could not agree on the costs consequences.  The Defendant brought a motion to address this issue.  Mr. Justice Armstong held that precedents developed under Rule 37B remain good law and that the Court has no discretion with respect to costs awards in these circumstances.   The Court provided the following reasons:

[28] Generally, the Court has discretion in relation to costs; however, where an offer to settle with specific terms as to costs has been accepted, to which Rule 9-1  applies, the Court does not have discretion to vary the terms of that agreement as they relate to costs.

[29] In Buttar v. Di Spirito, 2009 BCSC 72, Gerow J. held:

[11]      Both parties advanced arguments that the court has discretion under Rule 37B to make an order regarding costs. However, it is my opinion that the court has no discretion to make an order regarding costs in this matter. Mr. Buttar accepted the offer put forth by the defendants, including the offer regarding costs, without reservation. It is my view that Rule 37B does not confer discretion on the court to set aside an agreement that has been entered into between the parties regarding costs.

[33]         The rule in Buttar has been consistently applied in this Court and appears determinative of this issue.

[34]         Buttar and cases following it did not address Rule 9-1(4) as it relates to an accepted settlement that addresses costs. Rule 9-1(4) states:

(4)        The court may consider an offer to settle when exercising the court’s discretion in relation to costs.

[35]         Buttar held that the Court does not possess discretion to vary costs where a formal offer to settle, specifically addressing costs, has been accepted. If, in such circumstances, the Court is not in a position to exercise discretion in relation to costs, Rule 9-1(4) is of no application.

[36]         The rule in Buttar is applicable to the defendant’s application in this case. The plaintiff’s offer to settle, accepted by the defendant, created an agreement between the parties. This agreement is not subject to the Court’s discretion as to costs. In my view, the purpose of the rules would be frustrated if a party was free to accept an offer, clear and unambiguous on its face, and then move to invoke the Court’s discretion to add or vary terms to substantially rewrite the agreement reached by the parties.

Double Costs Ordered for Taking "Extremely Weak" Case to Trial


As recently discussed, when a party is on the losing end of a lawsuit in the BC Supreme Court they usually have to pay the winning sides costs.  If the successful party beat a pre-trial formal settlement offer the Court has the discretion of awarding double costs.  Reasons for judgement were released this week considering an application for double costs where a very modest formal offer was made prior to trial.
In today’s case (Brooks v. Gilchirst) the Plaintiff was involved in two motor vehicle incidents.  She sued for damages and both claims were heard at the same time.  ICBC disputed the allegation that a collision took place in the first incident.  Prior to trial ICBC made a $1 formal settlement offer.  The Plaintiff rejected this offer and went to trial.  Mr. Justice Sigurdson dismissed the claim finding that “no collision” took place.
ICBC applied for double costs.  The Plaintiff opposed arguing that the nominal offer should not trigger increased costs.  Mr. Justice Sidgurson agreed that while this was typically the case, in circumstances where an ‘extremely weak‘ case proceeds to trial double costs could be awarded in the face of a formal settlement offer.   In reaching this result the Court provided the following reasons:

[16]         In terms of the relationship between the terms of settlement offered and the final judgment of the court, the offer was better than the result, but the offer was only for the sum of $1 plus disbursements.  Ordinarily I would think that a nominal offer of one dollar may not attract orders for double costs but I know that in some cases even nominal offers may attract orders of double costs.  See for example MacKinlay v. MacKinlay Estate, 2008 BCSC 1570; Ludwig v. Bos, 2010 BCSC 695.

[17]         This is a case where there had been expenditures on medical and expert reports.  I think that where it becomes clear that liability will be extremely difficult to establish a nominal offer that has the effect of allowing the plaintiff to recover disbursements and avoid liability for the other party’s disbursements may nevertheless be a substantial offer.

[18]         In considering whether the offer ought reasonably to have been accepted, I think it was quite clear that the plaintiff’s original theory that she had been sideswiped as a result of the collision involving the other two adjacent cars was not maintainable once each side had filed their expert reports.  This was not merely a case where the plaintiff had a claim that was difficult to prove at trial; this was a unique case where on the evidence available to her before trial the plaintiff should have realized that she did not have a realistic position on liability…

[23]         In the circumstances, I think that the ICBC defendants should be awarded costs with respect to the main action.  I have estimated the main action consumed 90% of the time at trial.  The defendants were clearly successful and, in my view, it is not an appropriate order for each side to bear its own costs.

[24]         In terms of whether I should award double costs, I think that, in exercising my discretion, the offer reasonably ought to have been accepted in the days prior to trial.  Although the offer was modest, the circumstances at that time were clear that her case was extremely weak, she would have avoided liability for disbursements, and in fact recovered the disbursements she had incurred.

[25]         I award double costs for the period after two days prior to trial.

Plaintiff's "Disadvantaged" Financial Circumstances Disentitle ICBC to Costs


There have been many cases dealing with “the relative financial circumstances of the parties” focussing on whether a Defendant is insured in deciding the costs consequences after trials with formal settlement offers. (The BC Court of Appeal weighed in on this issue earlier this year deciding insurance can in fact be considered).  There have not, however, been many cases dealing with the Plaintiff’s finances (or lack thereof) as a compelling circumstance.  This overdue issue was addressed earlier this week by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry.
In today’s case (Dickson v. ICBC) the Plaintiff was injured in a bicycle accident involving an unknown motorist.  He sued ICBC under s. 24 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act.  ICBC denied fault on behalf of the unknown driver.  Prior to trial ICBC offered to settle the issue of fault on a 50/50 basis.  The plaintiff rejected this offer and went to trial where Madam Justice Russell found both parties equally at fault.
Typically, when ICBC matches or beats their formal offer at trial, ICBC becomes entitled to post offer costs.  Madam Justice Russell refused to follow this usual course, however, noting that the Plaintiff’s financial circumstances put the plaintiff at a ‘serious disadvantage‘.  In awarding the Plaintiff costs to the time of the offer and depriving both parties of post offer costs Madam Justice Russell held as follows:

[13]    It is my view that the plaintiff’s position is one of serious disadvantage as a result of the accident.  I recall that he was unable to work for a long period of time as a result of his injury and was still unable to return to work by the time of the hearing.

[14]    The plaintiff is the sole support of his family and either had run out of disability benefits or was close to the end of those benefits by the time of the summary trial…

[17]    I view the financial circumstances of the plaintiff as compelling on the issue of whether double costs should be awarded.

[18]    In Osooli-Talesh v. Emami, 2008 BCSC 1749, the offer to settle matched the judgment achieved and Sigurdson, J. concluded that the court may award payment of double costs where an offer to settle matches the results at trial.  However, he went on to consider all the factors listed in Rule 37B.  He determined that the parties had divided success and should therefore bear their own costs.

[19]    I am guided by that decision and consider it apposite to the circumstances of this case.

[20]    I award costs of this case to the plaintiff to the date of the receipt of the defendants’ offer to settle and order both parties to bear their own costs thereafter.

More on the New Rules, Formal Settlement Offers and Timelines for Acceptance


As I’ve previously written, the new formal settlement offer rule (Rule 9) reads almost identically to the former Rule 37B.   Under the former rules BC Courts were reluctant to have formal settlement offers trigger costs consequences following trial where the offer was open for acceptance for a short period of time.  Reasons for judgment were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, reaching a similar result under Rule 9.
In today’s case (Hunter v. Anderson) the Plaintiff sued for injuries as a result of a slip and fall incident.  In the course of the lawsuit the Defendant made a formal settlement offer for $25,000.  This offer was made one week before trial and was left open for acceptance for only 3 days.  The Plaintiff declined the offer and proceeded to trial.  After trial the Defendant was found 25% at fault for the fall and the Plaintiff was awarded just over $9,000 in damages.
The Defendant asked to be awarded their costs from the time of the offer onward.  Mr. Justice Cullen refused to do so finding that the offer was not alive for a reasonable period of time and split the costs the parties were entitled to.   In reaching this verdict the Court provided the following reasons:
[14] In dealing with the first issue under Rule 9-1(6), whether the offer was one that might reasonably have been accepted “the analysis is not one of hindsight, once the final result is known”.  See A.E. v. D.W.J. 2009 BCSC 505; Bailey v. Jang, 2008 BCSC 1372.  In the present case, the operative offer of the defendant was made relatively late in the day and was essentially premised on the defendant having no potential liability, but simply to offset the costs of a potential trial…

[15]         In my view, on balance, in the circumstances, despite the ultimate result, given the short duration of the offer, the fact that it was not based on an assessment of the liability of the defendant, it could not be characterized as one which ought reasonably to have been accepted.  I note that on March 9, 2010, when the offer was made, the defendant had not yet provided her fourth and final list of documents which was provided on March 10th.  As well, there was ongoing disclosure of the plaintiff’s documents.

[16]         In addition I note that in Bailey v. Jang, supra, Hinkson J. (as he then was) considered a seven day period “a reasonable time after which the plaintiff could consider (the defendant’s) offer” for purposes of awarding double costs under the old Rule 37B(6) after the expiry of that period…

Although the defendant tendered her offer on March 9th, six days before trial, it was in the context of ongoing disclosure and was left open, effectively, for only three days.  The plaintiff did not have the benefit of a great deal of time to assess the defendant’s offer.  In the context of Bailey v. Jang, Hinkson J. considered a seven day period “a reasonable period of time after which the plaintiff could consider their offer”.  I conclude a similar period is appropriate to impute in the circumstances of this case where the plaintiff was deprived of the ability to accept the defendant’s offer after only three days effectively commencing March 10th.  In light of that factor and the others I have set forth, I award the plaintiff, as indicated, the costs and disbursements up to and including the first two days of trial, and the defendants their costs and disbursements for the six days comprising the balance of the trial.

New Formal Settlement Offer Rule Treated the Same as the Old


A further decision dealing with the consequences of formal settlement offers under the New BC Supreme Court Civil Rules was released today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry.
In today’s case (Gregory v. ICBC) the Plaintiff was injured in a BC motor vehicle collision.  Prior to trial ICBC made a formal settlement offer of $164,000.  The Plaintiff rejected this offer and at trial was awarded just over $131,000.
ICBC brought an application seeking costs or double costs from the date of the offer onward.  Madam Justice Kloegman agreed that the Plaintiff ought to have accepted the formal settlement offer and accordingly deprived her of her costs and disbursements for the trial and awarded ICBC their costs and disbursements for steps taken shortly after delivery of the formal settlement offer.
In reaching this result the Court noted that Rule 9 (the New Formal Settlement offer rule) should be treated similarly to the old Rule 37B.  Specifically Madam Justice Kloegman noted that “The parties agree that it is likely that the new Supreme Court Rules apply to this application and, in any event, very little turns on whether or not the old or new Rules apply.
While ICBC was awarded post offer costs, they were not awarded double costs.  In reaching this decision the Court noted that ICBC’s financial ability to defend a lawsuit was “much greater than the (plaintiff’s) ability to prosecute” and that this factor must be taken into account in exercising judicial discretion under Rule 9.   In considering this factor Madam Justice Kloegman stated as follows “I will not order double costs to the defendant, which would be about $50,000, because the impact on the financial circumstances of the plaintiff and on the amount of her award at trial would be grievous.

New Formal Settlement Offer Rule Gets First Judicial Interpretation


The first judgement that I’m aware of dealing with the new formal settlement offer rule (Rule 9) was released today by the BC Supreme Court.
In today’s case (Demarzo v. Michaud) the Plaintiff was injured in a BC motor vehicle collision.  He went to trial and was awarded $356,000 in total damages.  (you can click here to read my post summarizing the trial judgement).  Prior to trial the Plaintiff made a formal settlement offer to resolve the claim for $150,000.
Having comfortably beat his pre-trial settlement offer the Plaintiff asked the Court to exercise its discretion and award double costs under Rule 9-1 (Rule 9 reads almost identically to the old Rule 37B.  You can access my archived posts dealing with Rule 37B by clicking here).
Prior to trial the Plaintiff obtained various independent medical reports.  The Plaintiff served these on the Defendant in compliance with the rules of Court but not as quickly as possible.  In an interesting application of the new rule Mr. Justice Brown held that double costs should not be ordered if a party failed to make “timely disclosure of documents“.  Specifically the Court held as follows in refusing to award the Plaintiff double costs:

[18]         The main purpose of Rule 9-1 is to encourage parties to settle, early if possible. But the purposes of the Rule, and modern practice, assumes timely disclosure of documents and reports that would significantly affect a party’s ability to make a rational assessment of the litigation risks they face. While it is true the Rules of Court provide parties means to discover facts and the parties can conduct their own investigations to assess litigation risks, in my view it is also incumbent on a party expecting an order for double costs to show timely disclosure of documents and reports that would have significantly affected the other party’s assessment of whether the offer ought reasonably to be accepted.

[19]         Further, while evidence at trial produced a judgment that was more than double what the plaintiff offered to settle for, I note that the plaintiff’s credibility, tested on cross-examination, and the specialist reports served in October 2009 were important factors in the damages awarded.

[20]         Considering these factors, I find an award of double costs is not in keeping with the purposes of the Rule and I decline an award.

A Lesson in Math: Winners and Losers in Personal Injury Lawsuits


When a personal injury claim goes to trial there is a winner and a loser.  Who the winner is, however, is not always apparent by reading the Court judgement.  To know who the winner really is you have to know the behind the scenes formal settlement offers.
Reasons for judgment were released today demonstrating, yet again, the steep costs Plaintiffs can face when on the losing end of a BC personal injury lawsuit.
In today’s case (Smagh v. Bumbrah) the Plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle collision.  She sued for damages.  Before trial the Defendants made a formal settlement offer for $20,000.  The Plaintiff rejected this offer and went to trial.  After 10 days of trial a BC Jury awarded $2,200.  The Defendant was awarded ‘costs’ from the date of the formal offer onward.  (You can click here to read my summary of the costs judgement).
On the face of it the Plaintiff clearly lost because she was awarded far less by the Jury than the settlement offer.  But the full extent of the loss is far greater than the difference between $20,000 and $2,200.  The Plaintiff actually ended up owing the Defendant money for this result.  How much money?  Approximately $40,000.
You can read today’s judgment in full to see the types of items a losing litigant can end up owing the winning side to a lawsuit and to see just how quickly a ‘costs’ award can add up.
Today’s case helps illustrate an important point I’ve previously stressed.  Before a case goes to trial it is important to fully consider the potential risks and rewards including the significant toll a costs award can have.  Without knowing and weighing these risks it is very difficult to make an informed choice about whether to settle or proceed to trial.

Formal Settlement Offers and Strict Compliance with Rule 37B


Reasons for judgement were released today considering whether strict compliance with Rule 37B is required for a Court to award a successful party Double Costs after beating a formal settlement offer at trial.
In today’s case (Eigeard v. Muench) the Plaintiff sued for personal injuries.  Prior to trial the Plaintiff made a written settlement offer to resolve the claim for $107,500.  The claim went to trial and the Plaintiff enjoyed success with a Jury awarding more than settlement offer.
The Plaintiff then asked the Court to award Double Costs under Rule 37B.  The Defendant objected arguing that the formal offer did not strictly comply with Rue 37B(1)(c)(iii) which requires formal offers to contain the following sentence:
“The ….[name of party making the offer]…. reserves the right to bring this offer to the attention of the court for consideration in relation to costs after the court has rendered judgment on all other issues in this proceeding.”
The Plaintiff argued that the Court still had the discretion to award double costs because “the defendant’s insurers are sophisticated and understood the content of the offer and there is no confusion.” and that “this was a legitimate attempt by the plaintiff to resolve the action.
Madam Justice Hyslop disagreed and concluded that the Court did not have the discretion to award double costs in these circumstances.  The Court went onto summarize the applicable law as follows:
[16] In Roach, the exact words of Rule 37B(1)(c)(iii) were not contained in the offer to settle pursuant to Rule 37B. Despite this, the trial judge ordered double costs. This was one of the grounds of appeal.

[17]         The offer to settle was in the form of a letter directed to counsel. The letter set out an offer of settlement and then stated:

We reserve the right to bring this letter to the attention of the judge as a matter of costs in accordance with Rules 37 and 37A. [para. 32]

[18]         Madam Justice Prowse, writing for the Court, stated:

[35] It is not disputed that the terms of Ms. Roach’s offer substantially complied with the requirements of an offer under Rule 37B(1)(c): it was made in writing; it was delivered to Mr. Dutra (through his counsel); and it contained a sentence in terms similar to those set forth in subrule (1)(c)(iii). Nor is there any suggestion that Mr. Dutra was misled by the offer in any way, or that he believed that he could disregard the offer with impunity with respect to costs because it did not track subrule (1)(c)(iii) word-for-word. Rather, Mr. Dutra takes what appears to be the highly technical point that if an offer does not contain the exact wording set out in subrule (1)(c)(iii), it does not come within the definition of an “offer to settle” within the meaning of Rule 37B(1) and, therefore, cannot attract an award of double costs.

[19]         Madam Justice Prowse considered both a strict and relaxed interpretation of Rule 37B(1). In doing so, she reviewed the history of Rule 37 and the enactment of Rule 37B.

[20]         She concluded that the enactment of Rule 37B was a move away from strict compliance as was the situation of Rule 37. In considering the offer, Madam Justice Prowse stated at para. 52:

That said, I am also of the view that the wording of the offer must be substantially compliant with the wording of subrule 1(c)(iii) such that no reasonable person could be misled as to the intent of the offer or the fact that it was an offer within the meaning of Rule 37B. In other words, the offer must be in writing, the wording must make it clear what party is making the offer and to whom it is made, and it must include the fact that the party making the offer is reserving the right to bring the offer to the attention of the court in relation to costs after judgment on all other issues in the proceeding.

[21]         The court in Roach upheld the trial judge’s finding that the offer meant the requirements of Rule 37B. At para. 54, Madam Justice Prowse endorsed the trial judge’s admonition that:

…counsel would be well advised to ensure that the language of their offers complies precisely with subrule 1(c)(iii) (and, in future, Rule 9-1) to avoid any possibility of their offers being found deficient. In this case, the offer was made just days after the new rule came into effect. It may be that the same measure of flexibility will not be accorded to offers in the future which are non-compliant. That is especially so if it proves that flexibility in the application of the Rule undermines its purpose of encouraging settlement of disputes in a fair, timely and cost-efficient manner, in accordance with the object and spirit of the Rules as a whole.

Madam Justice Hyslop then dismissed the application for double costs with the following reasons:

[25]         The offer does not meet the criteria set out in Roach. Rules 37(22) and (37) address the consequence of accepting an offer. There is nothing in the offer of the plaintiff to suggest that the plaintiff intends to bring the offer to the trial judge’s attention as it relates to costs.

[26]         The court’s discretion under Rule 37B comes into play after the court determines whether the offer complies with Rule 37B(1)(c) and as interpreted by Roach.

[27]         I dismiss the plaintiff’s application for double costs. The defendant shall have costs of this application pursuant to scale B to be set off against the costs otherwise awarded to the plaintiff.

In my continued efforts to get us all prepared for the New BC Supreme Court Civil Rules I will again point out that Rule 37B will be replaced with Rule 9 under the New Rules. The new rule uses language that is almost identical to Rule 37B so this case will likely retain its value as a precedent moving forward.

Defendant Awarded Double Costs for Successfully Defeating Claim Where "Walk Away" Offer was Made


Rule 37B, the BC Supreme Court Rule dealing with formal settlement offers, continues to be shaped by the Courts.  One factor that is not yet firmly established is what effect a “walk away” offer made by a Defendant has after a Plaintiff’s claim is dismissed at trial.
When a party sues for damages in the BC Supreme Court and later decides that their lawsuit is likely going to lose at trial they can discontinue.  If this is done the Defendant is able to seek their costs at the time of discontinuance unless they waive this right.  A common strategy of Defendants when they are confident they will win at trial is to make a formal “walk away” offer where they waive their right to costs if the Plaintiff discontinues.  If the Plaintiff does not take the offer and goes on to lose at trial the Defendant may be entitled to ‘double costs’ which could easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court dealing with a walk away offer.
In this week’s case (Riley v. Riley) the parties were involved in a lawsuit involving the transfer of real-estate between family members.  (although this was not a personal injury case there is no reason why the Court’s reasoning cannot be used in the injury claims context).  Prior to trial the Defendant made a formal offer under Rule 37B for the Plaintiff to walk away from the lawsuit on a ‘no costs‘ basis.  The Plaintiff refused the offer, went to trial where her case was dismissed.  The Defendant then asked the Court to award ‘double costs‘ and Mr. Justice Greyell agreed to do so.  In concluding that this was a fair result the Court provided the following reasons:

[20] In MacKinlay v. MacKinlay Estate, 2008 BCSC 1570, Savage J. also considered the effect of Rule 37B when a nominal offer was made.  The issue was whether double costs should be awarded where the successful defendant had made a nominal offer to settle.  He held, at paras. 34-35:

[34]      While a nominal offer might be described as strategic, it was a strategy aimed at persuading the Plaintiffs to discontinue the proceeding, an outcome that is favourable as compared to the outcome the Plaintiffs obtained at trial.  Such an offer is one of the few tools in the arsenal of a defendant of relatively modest means which might exert pressure on a plaintiff pursuing an unmeritorious claim.

[35]      In this regard, albeit in the context of the former Rule, the Court of Appeal in Kurylo v. Rai 2006 BCCA 176, 53 B.C.L.R. (4th) 214, at ¶ 7 said:

…. When a defendant assesses his position in litigation of any kind he may consider that the plaintiff has no case and if the case goes to trial, will fail.  But the defendant may also be willing to make some minor offer which would carry with it the costs in the hope that the action will go away and that he will not, thereafter, incur large legal bills to establish his legal position that the plaintiff has no case.

[21] I see no logical distinction between a nominal offer and an offer such as that made by the defendant in this case.  The principle is the same.  One party is provided with an offer to settle and if not successful at trial in advancing its position relative to the offer it may be held accountable for costs of pursuing the matter to trial.

[22] The second factor referred to in Rule 37B(6) clearly favours the defendant.  The judgment upheld the position she outlined in the offer to settle.  Had the plaintiff accepted it he would have saved not only his legal costs but also the legal costs he must pay to the defendant as the successful party.

[23] There are no other relevant circumstances which bear on my determination of double costs.  The caution expressed by Hall J.A. in Catalyst Paper Corporation v. Companhia de Navegaçäo Norsul, 2009 BCCA 16, 86 B.C.L.R. (4th) 17, is applicable in this case.  Based on the considerations in the above paragraphs, I conclude the plaintiff shall pay double costs to the defendant.  Those double costs shall commence seven days from the date the offer was made.

As mentioned at the start of this article, the formal offer Rule is still being shaped and the result of a ‘walk away’ offer is still not certain.  To read a case where the Court refused to award double costs where a walk away offer was made you can click here.
In my continued efforts to get us all prepared for the New BC Supreme Court Civil Rules I will again point out that Rule 37B will be replaced with Rule 9 under the New Rules. The new rule uses language that is almost identical to Rule 37B so the issue of the effect of ‘walk away’ offers will continue to be judicially shaped moving forward.

Defendant Awarded Trial Costs for Beating Formal Settlement Offer in ICBC Claim

While Rule 37B is still being shaped in its application one pattern that is relatively well established is that if a Plaintiff is awarded less at trial than ICBC’s formal settlement offer the Plaintiff will likely be deprived of their trial costs and be ordered to pay a portion of the Defendant’s costs.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Courtenay Registry, demonstrating such a result.
In this week’s case (Berry v. LaBelle) the Plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle collision.  He sued for damages.  The month before trial ICBC made a formal settlement offer to resolve the claim for $46,000.  This offer was rejected.  At trial the Plaintiff was awarded $30,000 in total damages by the BC Supreme Court (you can click here to read my article summarizing the trial judgement).
ICBC brought a motion under Rule 37B to be awarded double costs for all steps taken in the lawsuit after the formal offer was delivered.  Madam Justice Baker refused to award double costs, however the Court did deprive the Plaintiff of costs following the formal offer and ordered that the Plaintiff pay the Defendant’s costs from the week after the offer was made through to trial.
The Court recognized that such an order would significantly reduce the amount of damages the Plaintiff would receive.  Madam Justice Baker provided the following reasons justifying this result:
[13] Counsel for the defendant submits, and I agree, that the plaintiff did set his sights very high at trial.  In oral submissions at the end of trial, counsel for the plaintiff argued that the appropriate award for non-pecuniary damages was between $150,000 to $200,000; that the plaintiff should receive an award of $45,000 to $60,000 for past loss of income; and that the court should award $400,000 for loss of the capacity to earn income in future.  The submissions about income loss were particularly ambitious given that the plaintiff provided no documentary evidence whatsoever about income earned by the plaintiff before or after the accident…

[15]        I consider that the offer made by the defendant was one that ought reasonably to have been accepted, although the plaintiff would, in my view, have reasonably needed some time to consider his position and seek his counsel’s advice.

[16]        As stated earlier, the plaintiff ought to have anticipated significant difficulty in maintaining a loss of income claim without the ability, or willingness, to provide documentary evidence about his earnings before or after the accident.

[17]        By the date of the defendant’s offer, the plaintiff had available to him the medical opinion evidence on which he relied at trial.  Given that the medical evidence ruled out neurological injury; plaintiff’s counsel would have had plenty of precedents available to assist in assessing the likely range of quantum of non-pecuniary damages…

[19]        Certainly the effect of the costs order the defendant is seeking would be to deprive the plaintiff of the greater part of the compensation to which I concluded he is entitled by reason of the defendant’s negligence and the plaintiff’s injury…

[21] In all of the circumstances, I am satisfied that it would be inequitable to make an award of double costs in favour of the defendant.  The defendant having elected to proceed under Rule 66, I am satisfied that the defendant’s entitlement to costs should be governed by Rule 66.  I award the plaintiff his costs, on Scale B, not to exceed $6,600, up to and including April 21, 2009, plus disbursements incurred to that date.  In respect of proceedings after that date, the defendant shall have her costs, but also limited to $6,600 pursuant to Rule 66(29); and her disbursements from and after April 22, 2009.   There shall be no order for double costs.

As readers of this blog are likely aware, Rule 37B will be replaced with Rule 9 on July 1, 2010 when the new BC Civil Rules come into force. The new rule uses language that is almost identical to Rule 37B which will likely have cases such as this one retain their value as precedents moving forward.

You can click here to access my archived posts discussing other Rule 37B cases.

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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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