(Update October 2, 2012 – The below post was upheld on appeal in reasons for judgement released today)
Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing reasonable photocopy expenses in a bill of disbursements.
In the recent case (Chow v. Nguyen) the parties could not agree to the reasonableness of various disbursements incurred in the prosecution of a personal injury claim. In the course of the lawsuit the Plaintiff’s lawyer made 7,231 photocopies and claimed disbursements at $0.25 per copy. ICBC argued this was unreasonable. Master McDiarmid disagreed and allowed this disbursement as presented. In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:
Counsel for the defendant and third party also objected to the photocopy charges. She accepted plaintiff’s counsel’s representation that the 7,231 photocopies were in fact made. There was no argument that the photocopying was not necessary or proper; rather, the argument was that the 25¢ per page was excessive given the actual cost of photocopying. When assessing costs, a registrar must determine which disbursements have been necessarily or properly incurred in the conduct of the proceedings, and I must allow a reasonable amount for those disbursements (Rule 14-1(5) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules (the “Civil Rules”)).
Pursuant to Rule 14-1(1) of the Civil Rules, I am to assess costs in accordance with Appendix B. Administrative Notice 5 effective July 1, 2010 directs that photocopying charges may be allowed at 25¢ per page on a party/party bill of costs. This amount is a guideline only. If it is shown that the actual cost was or should have been different from the guideline charges, the amounts allowed on an assessment may differ from the guideline amounts.
The actual cost of photocopying is difficult to determine, in as much as it involves a combination of fixed costs, per page costs, and labour costs. There was no evidence before me to show what the actual cost was. I find that in the circumstances of this case, the number of photocopies was both necessary and proper, and I allow the photocopying charges as claimed in the amount of $1,807.75, plus applicable taxes.
This case is also worth reviewing for the Court’s discussion of document binding charges (dismissed as overhead) and the cost of fairly expensive expert reports which were allowed as being reasonable given the circumstanses of the case.