ICBC, Fraud and Jury Trials
Reasons for judgement were released today dismissing a jury notice in an alleged case of Fraud against numerous defendants.
In this case ICBC was the Plaintiff. ICBC argues that ‘the defendants conspired to defraud it through various claims relating to stolen vehicles and through a collision that it says was staged and it seeks, among other remedies, an award of punitive damages.’
ICBC elected to proceed by jury trial. One of the defendant’s brought a motion to strike the jury notice. After reviewing many of the leading authorities dealing with whether a jury notice should be struck pursuant to BC Rule of Court 39(27), Mr. Justice Hinkson granted the defendant’s motion holding that he shared the same doubts that Mr. Justice Mededith held when dismissing a jury in the United Services case, particularly that:
I doubt that the jury (especially unaided by the pleadings) would understand the significance of evidence as it goes in. The length of the evidence (protracted by frequent intermissions by way of voir dire) and the variety of questions arising therefrom will be confusing. The many questions to be put to the jury at the end of the trial will be difficult to formulate for intelligent analysis by the jury. The speeches of counsel relating to those issues will be difficult to assimilate as will the judge’s charge and his review of the evidence
In sum, I conclude that a civil jury trial in the circumstances would be altogether unmanageable. Add to the reasons I have given, the complexity of jury selection alone, and the difficulty of ensuring absence of prejudice in the light of the multiplicity of parties.
To permit the trial to proceed by jury would threaten to virtually paralyze the judicial process and deny the plaintiff and some defendants and third parties their rights.