Tag: Henneberry v. Humber

Pursuing "Unproductive Trains of Inquiry" Fatal in Request for Further Examination for Discovery

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, addressing the Court’s discretion to allow a party to conduct an examination for discovery beyond the 2 hour cap called for in Fast Track proceedings.
In today’s case (Henneberry v. Humber) the Plaintiff sued for damages following a collision.  The Plaintiff was examined for discovery for the full two hours allowed under the fast track.  The Defendant brought an application for further time but the court dismissed this finding the examination that was conduced pursued “unproductive trains of inquiry“.  In reaching this conclusion Mr. Justice Romilly provided the following reasons:
[3]             Counsel for the defendant in this particular case indicates there are many reasons for that. It is a complicated case, liability is in issue, and the plaintiff refused to sign a notice to admit certain facts which could have shortened the length of this examination for discovery.
[4]             Counsel for the plaintiff has taken me through the examination for discovery and pointed out many instances where counsel for the defendant has squandered the opportunity to fully take advantage of this two-hour limit that was placed upon these proceedings.
[5]             Two of the leading members of our court, if I could say that, in civil matters, Madam Justice Susan Griffin and Mr. Justice N. Smith, have both written judgments on these new rules. In one case, the case ofMore Marine Ltd. v. Shearwater Marine Ltd., 2011 BCSC 166, Mr. Justice N. Smith, says this at paras. 12-13:
[12]      The new Rules also impose limitations on oral examination for discovery, but do so through a different mechanism.  Rule 7-2 (2) now limits an examination for discovery to seven hours or to any longer period to which the person being examined consents.  Although the test for relevance of a particular question or group of questions remains very broad, examining parties who ask too many questions about marginally relevant matters, who spend too much time pursuing unproductive trains of inquiry or who elicit too much evidence that will not be admissible at trial risk leaving themselves with insufficient time for obtaining more important evidence and admissions.
[13]      As Griffin J. said in Kendall, the time limit imposes a “self-policing incentive” on the party conducting the examination: at para. 14.  At the same time, the existence of the time limit creates a greater obligation on counsel for the party being examined to avoid unduly objecting or interfering in a way that wastes the time available. This interplay was described in Kendall at para. 18:
A largely “hands off” approach to examinations for discovery, except in the clearest of circumstances, is in accord with the object of the Rules of Court, particularly the newly stated object of proportionality, effective July 1, 2010.  Allowing wide-ranging cross-examination on examination for discovery is far more cost-effective than a practice that encourages objections, which will undoubtedly result in subsequent chambers applications to require judges or masters to rule on the objections.  It is far more efficient for counsel for the examinee to raise objections to the admissibility of evidence at trial, rather than on examination for discovery.
[6]             In this particular case, counsel for the plaintiff has taken me to the transcript and I am satisfied that there was far too much time spent pursuing unproductive trains of inquiry. As a result, the two-hour limitation passed by without counsel for the defendant being able to deal with all the issues with which they wanted to deal.
[7]             I am not satisfied that this is a case where I should exercise my discretion to give any further time for further examinations for discovery. The application will be dismissed. Thank you.
 

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ERIK
MAGRAKEN

Personal Injury Lawyer

When not writing the BC Injury Law Blog, Erik is the managing partner at MacIsaac & Company, based in Victoria, B.C. He is also involved with combative sports regulatory issues and authors the Combat Sports Law Blog.

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