When an ICBC insured Defendant is awarded costs following successfully defeating a BC Supreme Court lawsuit, do the costs get paid to the litigant or to the insurer? To date there are contradictory authorities addressing this (you can click here to read a case awarding costs to the party and here for a case awarding them to ICBC).
Adding to the uncertainty, reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vernon Registry, indicating that the personal defendant gets the benefit of the costs payment.
In this week’s case (Nadeau v. Okanagan Urban Youth & Cultural Association) the Plaintiff was injured when struck by a vehicle. He sued a personal defendant arguing he was the driver and also ICBC arguing that they were liable in the event that the personal defendant was not the driver. The Claim against the personal driver was ultimately dismissed and the claim against ICBC succeeded.
The Defendant was awarded costs, however, Mr. Justice Powers found that a ICBC should be responsible for payment of the costs to the personal Defendants. In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:
 . I order that the plaintiff recover 85 percent of his costs from the defendant, ICBC, at Scale B. I also order that the plaintiff recover the costs he is required to pay to Mr. Usseni and James Mugambi and James Kibigi from the defendant, ICBC. I am satisfied that this is one of those cases which fall within Rule 14-1(8) of the Civil Rules, where the plaintiff should recover the costs it pays to those defendants as a disbursement in its bill of costs against the defendant, ICBC.
 The central issue in this proceeding on liability was which vehicle struck the plaintiff and who was operating that vehicle. If it was not the vehicle owned by Ms. Mutanda and driven by Mr. Usseni, then it would be a vehicle operated by an unidentified driver. The only question with regard to liability of the defendant, ICBC, for the unidentified driver, was whether the accident occurred on a highway so that s. 24 of the Act applied. Of course, the extent of the negligence of the operator and of Mr. Nadeau were also in issue, but those were in issue in any event.
 In this case, not only was it reasonable for the plaintiff to bring its action against Mr. Usseni and Ms. Mutanda, James Kibigi and James Mugambi, as well as ICBC pursuant to s. 24 of the Act, it was the only course available to the plaintiff. There were real and legitimate issues of fact as well as issues of law that could not be resolved without a proper trial. The cause of action against each defendant was the same. The only issue was which defendant was liable depending on findings of fact.
 In my opinion, it would be unfair to require the plaintiff to pay the costs of Mr. Usseni, Ms. Mutanda, James Kibigi and James Mugambi, without the ability to recover those costs from the unknown driver, or in this case, ICBC, pursuant to their liability under s. 24 of the Act.
As previoulsy discussed, when a Plaintiff sues 2 parties and succeeds only against one the Court had a discretion under Rule 14-1(18) to order that the unsuccessful defendant pay the successful defendants costs. Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, demonstrating the flexibility of this discretion in action.
In last week’s case (Bakker v. Nahanee) the Plaintiff was injured when struck by a stolen vehicle being driven by the Defendant. The Plaintiff sued for damages and, as is customary in BC, also sued the Registered owner of the vehicle alleging vicarious liability pursuant to section 86 of BC’s Motor Vehicle Act. As the lawsuit progressed it became clear that the at fault vehicle was indeed stolen making the vicarious liability claims untenable.
Ultimately the action was dismissed against the owner and a settlement was reached with respect to the claim against the driver. The Plaintiff applied for an order that the Driver pay the costs of the successful owner. Madam Justice Fitzpatrick agreed such a result was justified but only until the examination for discovery phase where it was obvious that the vicarious liability claims would not succeed. The Court provided the following reasons:
 Supreme Court Civil Rule 14-1 (18) provides that the Court may exercise its discretion in ordering that the costs of one defendant be paid by another defendant:
If the costs of one defendant against a plaintiff ought to be paid by another defendant, the court may order payment to be made by one defendant to the other directly, or may order the plaintiff to pay the costs of the successful defendant and allow the plaintiff to include those costs as a disbursement in the costs payable to the plaintiff by the unsuccessful defendant…
 It is not a novel concept that when preparing pleadings, all parties who are potentially liable should be included where a valid cause of action can be reasonably advanced. This applies equally in the arena of motor vehicle litigation. In this respect, Mr. Bakker also relied on the evidence of Mr. David Kolb, a Vancouver lawyer who practices in this area. He states that an owner of the vehicle in question is always named as a defendant arising from the statutory vicarious liability under the Motor Vehicle Act. He goes on to state that even if the car was purportedly stolen, it is wise to err on the side of caution and name all parties until further investigations are done to ensure that all facts are known before the owner is released from the litigation. He cites as an example, that while the driver/thief and the owner may have different names, further investigations may in fact reveal that they were related and resided together, in which case the owner would be liable even if a stolen vehicle is involved. There may also be issues of fraud or improper motive on the part of the owner who reported the vehicle as stolen. Until such facts as may establish liability are ruled out, it is a prudent practice to name the owner.
 In these circumstances, as a general proposition, I am of the view that Mr. Bakker was reasonable in naming Ms. Ang and GMAC as defendants to this action…
 In my view, and exercising my discretion, the granting of a Bullock order is appropriate in the circumstances but the order should be limited, similar to that which was ordered in Cominco at 212. Accordingly, Mr. Bakker is entitled to a Bullock order but only in respect of the costs incurred up to and including the examination for discovery of Ms. Ang on September 20, 2007. By that time, Mr. Bakker’s counsel had elicited sufficient evidence from Ms. Ang to be satisfied that she and GMAC had no vicarious liability and that there were no mechanical issues relating to the vehicle. Beyond September 20, 2007, I am unable to say that it would be just or fair to fix Mr. Nahanee with the costs of Ms. Ang and GMAC.
(Please note that the BC Court of Appeal granted leave to Appeal the below discussed decision.)
When a Plaintiff sues 2 parties and succeeds only against one the Court had a discretion under former Rule 57(18) to order that the unsuccessful defendant pay the successful defendants costs. Depending on the way a court goes about doing this will label the result a “Sanderson Order” or a “Bullock Order“. This rule has been reproduced in the New Rules of Court at Rule 14-1(18) and the first judgement I’m aware of considering this discretion under the New Rules was released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Nanaimo Registry.
In last week’s case (Brooks-Martin v. Martin) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2005 collision in Saanich, BC. The Plaintiff was travelling in the “C” position behind a motorcycle operated by her husband who was travelling in the “A” position. Her husband unexpectedly cut in front of her. In trying to avoid a collision with her husband she lost control, fell down onto the road and was injured.
(Accident Reconstruction Software courtesy of SmartDraw)
At trial Mr. Justice Halfyard found the Defendant 70% at fault and the Plaintiff 30% at fault. The Plaintiff also sued another Defendant although they were found faultless. The Plaintiff asked for a Sanderson order to minimize her costs consequences following trial although this application was dismissed. Prior to doing so Mr. Justice Halfyard provided the following test required to get a Sanderson or Bullock order:
 The court’s power to make the order sought by the plaintiff is set out in Rule 14-1(18), which states:
(18) If the costs of one defendant against a plaintiff ought to be paid by another defendant, the court may order payment to be made by one defendant to the other directly, or may order the plaintiff to pay the costs of the successful defendant and allow the plaintiff to include those costs as a disbursement in the costs payable to the plaintiff by the unsuccessful defendant.
 In order to justify the exercise of discretion in his or her favour, a plaintiff must establish two elements, namely:
a) that it was reasonable for the plaintiff to have sued the successful defendant together with the unsuccessful defendant; and
b) that there was some conduct on the part of the unsuccessful defendant (such as asserting that the successful defendant was the culprit in the case or committing some act or acts which caused the plaintiff to bring the successful defendant into the litigation) which makes it just to require the unsuccessful defendant to pay the costs of the successful defendant.
See Grassi v. WIC Radio Ltd. 2001 BCCA 376 at paras 32-34; Davidson v. Tahtsa Timber Ltd. 2010 BCCA 528 at paras 53-54.
 The first element is a threshold requirement for the exercise of the court’s discretion. This question is looked at mainly from the perspective of the plaintiff. But if the plaintiff has alleged independent causes of action against the two defendants and if these two causes of action are not connected, the plaintiff will not be able to meet the threshold test. See Robertson v. North Island College Technical and Vocational Institute (1980), 26 B.C.L.R. 225 (C.A.) at paras 23-24; Davidson v. Tahtsa Timber Ltd. at para. 52.