Plaintiff Stripped of Costs for Failing to "Justify His Choice of Forum"
As previously discussed, the default position when a Plaintiff is awarded less than $25,000 following a Supreme Court trial is that they are not entitled to costs unless they show “sufficient reason” for suing in that forum. Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing this and stripping a Plaintiff of costs who failed to justify his choice of forum.
In this week’s case (Quartey-Harrison v. Klusiewich) the Plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle collision and following trial was awarded just over $18,000 in damages plus costs “if no submissions (respecting costs) have been received“.
Following this the Defendant provided written submissions arguing the Plaintiff should be deprived of costs because the claim could have been advanced in Provincial Court. The Plaintiff did not respond to this submission. Madam Justice Baker stripped the Plaintiff of his costs finding the onus was on him to justify his choice of forum. The Court provided the following reasons:
 The burden is on the plaintiff to justify his choice of forum. The court is to consider the circumstances at the time the action was commenced.
 In this case, Mr. Quartey-Harrison has made no submissions on costs and has offered no evidence on the issue of “sufficient reason” for bringing the proceeding in the Supreme Court. In the circumstances, I do not think that I should speculate.
 In my view, the evidence at trial made it plain and obvious that no award for past or future loss of income or the capacity to earn income, was warranted, and that the mild whiplash type injury suffered by Mr. Quartey-Harrison was unlikely to result in an award in excess of the $25,000 monetary limit in Small Claims Court.
 I have carefully considered the submissions made by the defendants in respect of the defendants’ settlement offer but have concluded that Mr. Quartey-Harrison’s right to recover disbursements should not be nullified by the offer.
 In summary, each party shall bear its own costs, but the plaintiff is entitled to recover his disbursements from the defendants.