Tag: Rule 12-2(1)

Lost Trial Date Due To Lack of Trial Briefs Not Saved By Late Filing

Reasons for judgement were released today demonstrating that filing a late trial brief is no remedy once a trial date is lost due to lack of compliance with the Rules of Court.
In today’s case (Carleton v. North Island Brewing Corporation) the parties were scheduled for trial and apparently by consent agreed to file trial briefs “outside the times prescribed by the Rules.“.
The Court did not grant the request for lack of sufficient evidence supporting it and struck the trial date.  The parties hoped late briefs would salvage the trial date but the Court declined.  In doing so Mr. Justice Smith provided the following reasons:

[2]            Rule 12-2(1) requires a trial management conference to be held at least 28 days before trial. The plaintiff must file a trial brief at least 28 days before the date of the trial management conference (R. 12-2(2)) and other parties must file their trial briefs at least 21 days before the trial management conference (R. 12-2(3.1)). If no trial briefs are filed as required, the matter is removed from the trial list (Rule 12-2 (3.3).

[3]            These Rules are intended in part to assist the court in determining what cases are ready for trial, which in turn assists the court in the allocation of scarce judicial resources. They are not Rules that counsel and parties may opt out of at their convenience. At the very least, any application to extend the time for filing of a trial brief must be accompanied by a reasonable explanation as to why it was not filed in time as well as a proposed new date by which it will be filed.

[4]            In this case, neither party filed a trial brief and counsel simply submitted a draft consent order that “trial briefs of the plaintiff and defendant be filed outside the times prescribed” by the Rules. There was no explanation of why no one had filed a trial brief and no suggestion of when briefs would be filed. The absence of that material was in itself sufficient grounds to deny the application, but a subsequent review of the court record indicated that the matter had already been struck from the trial list.

[5]            The trial management conference had been set for February 16, 2017 and the requisition seeking a consent order for late filing was not submitted until January 30. In other words, the parties were seeking to file trial briefs after the date on which the Rules required the case to be struck from the trial list.

[6]            Rule 12-2 (3.3) reads

(3.3) Unless the court otherwise orders, a trial must be removed from the trial list if no trial brief has been filed under subrule (3) or (3.1).

[7]            Therefore, where a matter is struck from the trial list pursuant to that Rule, it cannot be restored simply by late filing of trial briefs, even if the court permits late filing. At least one party must make a proper application to restore the trial to the list. The question of late filing of trial briefs will only become relevant if that application is successful. Whether such an application is successful will depend on the circumstances, but I expect that in most cases applicants will be required to show both a reasonable excuse for the failure to file trial briefs and some serious prejudice if the trial does not go ahead.

Practice Direction 36 – Trial Management Conferences Allowed to Be Waived by Consent

(UPDATE – August 31, 2012PD 36 has been repealed and replaced with PD 37)
Addressing concerns that mandatory Trial Management Conferences add unnecessary time and expense to litigation, Practice Direction 36 comes into force on September 4 which will allow parties to BC Supreme Court Civil and Family matters to apply to waive TMC’s.
The waiver of TMC’s is limited to Vancouver Registry trials 9 days or less in duration with no self-represented litigants involved.  Hopefully this directive will be expanded Province wide.

Fixed Trial Date a Prerequisite for Trial Management Conference


Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Penticton Registry, confirming that a Trial Date needs to be fixed before the Court has the authority to conduct a Trial Management Conference.
In today’s case (Landis v. Witmar Holdings Ltd.) the Claimant unilaterally set down a Trial Management Conference before a trial date was secured.  The Respondent argued that the conference was a nullity in these circumstances.  Mr. Justice Punnett agreed and in doing so provided the following reasons:

[5] Trial management conferences are a creation of the new Rules and are governed by Rule 12-2.  The objective of a trial management conference is to provide increased judicial supervision of pre-trial steps of litigation and the conduct of trials.  The rationale for increased judicial supervision is to provide assistance to parties in moving the case forward consistent with the overall objective of the Rules, particularly the proportionality principles.

[6] The requirement under Rule 12-2(1) to hold a trial management conference at least 28 days before the scheduled trial date indicates that a trial must be set before a trial management conference is scheduled.

[7] Rule 12-2(1) reads:

Unless the court otherwise orders, a trial management conference must take place at least 28 days before the scheduled trial date, at a time and place to be fixed by a registrar.  [Emphasis added]

[8] Without a trial date a judge is unable to address the issues referred to in Rule 12-2(9), nor would counsel be in a position to comply with the requirements of Rule 12-2(3) respecting the filing of trial briefs.

[9] Consequently, the trial management conference should not have been set down.  A notice of trial fixing a trial date must be issued before a trial management conference can be scheduled.

[10] The trial management conference set for June 11, 2012 is struck.

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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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