Reasons for judgment were published today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry,(Berekoff v. McMath) finding that full Rule 15 costs were appropriate where a matter settled 3 months before trial and the only meaningful work that was left related to witness preparation.
In finding costs of $6,500 were appropriate in these circumstances District Registrar Cameron provided the following reasons:  The parties are at odds as to whether or not the costs that should be awarded to the Plaintiff as mandated by Rule 15-1(15) should be reduced at all from what is called the “cap amount”, or $6,500, for a matter that settles before trial. The Plaintiff asserts that the full amount should be awarded and the Defendant argues for a significant reduction to take into account that not all of the preparation for trial had been done on behalf of the Plaintiff before the settlement…  In this case, I am satisfied on the evidence that very significant preparation had been done by Mr. Caissie on behalf of the Plaintiff. He submitted if the case had not settled all he would have been left to complete was the final preparation of his client to give evidence at trial, to prepare the Plaintiff’s family physician and his chiropractor to ready them for giving their evidence at trial, and lastly, an attendance at a trial management conference that would have been held on July 11, 2013.  With all of this I would have awarded the Plaintiff the entire cap amount of $6,500. However, Mr. Caissie had agreed before this hearing that a 10% reduction should be applied and as such I will allow the costs as claimed of $5,850 plus applicable taxes.
Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing assesable costs when a fast track trial exceeds 3 days.
In today’s case (Peacock v. Paul) the plaintiff was involved in two collisions. Although only one of the cases was put into the fast track the Court deemed that Rule 15 applied to both actions. The trial took a total of 5 days. ICBC argued that costs should be capped at $11,000 but Mr. Justice Affleck declined to do so and used his discretion to increase costs by $1,500 for each additional day of trial. In reaching this conclusion the Court provided the following reasons:  Madam Justice Neilson held that the formula set out in Anderson v. Routbard, 2007 BCCA 193 should be applied to determine what amount should be awarded. This formula involves first determining what portion of the lump sum provided for in the Rule is for pre-trial and trial costs. Madam Justice Neilson calculated this by taking the amount enumerated for a one day or less trial and subtracting it from the amount allowed for a two day or more trial. The difference is then multiplied by the number of days that the trial went over (paras. 31, 39). She concluded: 39 I would therefore allow the appeal, and calculate costs under R. 66(29) as follows. Under the present limits of $5,000 and $6,600 I take the pre-trial portion of costs to be $3,400, and $1,600 as representative of each day of trial. The plaintiff’s offer to settle was delivered only six days before trial. Thus, she is not entitled to double costs for trial preparation. She is, however, entitled to double costs for three and a half days of trial, calculated at $3,200 per day. Total costs are thus $14,600 ($3,400 plus $11,200) before disbursements and taxes.  Similarly, this approach was used in Lam v. Chui, 2013 BCSC 1281 where the court considered the appropriate costs award in a fast track action where the trial took 13.5 days. The court held that the plaintiff was entitled to costs for 11.5 days after it deducted 2 days representing time wasted as a result of an error made by the parties concerning the date of the loan in question. Calculating the cost of a trial day at $1, 500 using the formula from Majewska, the court determined that the plaintiff was entitled to $23, 750 in costs ($11,000 for the first three days of trial and $1,500 per day for 8.5 days). The same approach was used inShiekh v. Struys, 2013 BCSC 1148.  In Coutakis v. Lean, 2012 BCSC 1447, the court considered a successful plaintiff’s claim for costs in a fast track action. The trial took five days including one day where trial did not proceed due to illness of the judge. The court held: 10 Under subrule 15-1(15), the court is given a wide discretion to order an amount of costs other than the fixed amounts set out therein. In my view, this is a case which clearly calls for the exercise of that discretion, in favour of the plaintiff. That the hearing of the evidence took three days, rather than two, was largely as a result of the defence’s cross-examination of four of the plaintiff’s treating physicians, and the defence’s tendering as opinion evidence of the consultation report of a neurosurgeon. Hearing the evidence of all of these physicians took more than three hours, and, as I stated in my judgment, all of it was ineffectual. Further time was spent hearing irrelevant evidence from the defendant. … 13 Using the amounts prescribed in the subrule as reference points, I award the plaintiff base costs of $14,000, plus disbursements.  In the case at bar, the trial took two days longer than contemplated by R. 15-1(15)(c). Applying the authorities discussed above, in my view, the costs award should exceed $11,000 by adding a further $1,500 for each of the additional days of trial for a total costs award of $14,000 not including disbursements.
As previously discussed, Rule 15 is applicable to BC Supreme Court injury trials with a quantum of less than $100,000 or to trials that can be completed in three days or less. This week reasons for judgement were published by the BC Supreme Court, Vernon Registry, addressing what costs flow following a Rule 15 trial which exceeds three days.
In this week’s case (Travelbea v. Henrie) the Plaintiff was injured in a collision. Following a four day trial which was prosecuted under Rule 15 damages of just over $68,000 and costs were awarded. The Plaintiff sought costs under the Tarriff and the Defendant argued that the capped costs of Rule 15 should apply. Mr. Justice Barrow agreed with the Defendant and noted that there is nothing sufficient in a trial exceeding three days to depart from Rule 15 costs. The court provided the following reasons: 6] In general, the case was conducted in accordance with the parameters set by Rule 15-1. The plaintiff did not conduct an examination for discovery of the defendant. The defendant’s examination for discovery of the plaintiff was completed within two hours. There were no interlocutory applications by either party. The only substantive exception to the limitations imposed by the fast-track regime is that the trial spanned four days…  The only aspect of this case to which the plaintiff points by way of special circumstance is that the trial was set for four days and, in fact, took almost four days to be heard. I am not persuaded that the circumstance is sufficient to justify otherwise ordering. First, when the notice of trial was filed indicating that four days would be necessary, the plaintiff was content that the matter should remain in the fast-track regime. That is apparent by virtue of the endorsement on the notice and the fact that no application to the court or request to the defendant was made seeking to remove the case from the regime. Second, although the trial took more than three days, it took only marginally more, less than half a day.  I acknowledge the plaintiff’s submission that the case may have taken much longer had counsel not dealt with the matter so efficiently and co-operatively. To accede to that submission would be, in effect, to sanction a party for doing that which the Rules are intended to promote, namely, to conduct trials in an expedient and efficient way.  In the result, I am satisfied that the lump sum costs provided for in Rule 15 ought to be imposed in this case, and I order that the plaintiff is entitled to costs under Rule 15-1(15)(c) in the amount of $11,000.
Reasons for judgement were released recently by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dealing with damages for minor soft tissue injuries following a so-called ‘low velocity impact‘ collision.
In the recent case (Wallner v. Uppal) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2008 rear-end collision. Fault was admitted. The collision was relatively minor causing just under $450 worth of vehicle damage. Despite this the Plaintiff suffered a soft tissue injury to her neck and shoulder. Her symptoms were “mild” but were expected to linger into the future. In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $20,000 Madam Justice Stromberg-Stein provided the following reasons:  The plaintiff’s claim is for damages for a permanent partial disability relating to her intermittent ongoing neck, upper back and shoulder pain and left arm pain, and numbness and tingling she says is caused by the accident. The plaintiff acknowledges her condition is relatively mild but maintains it is persistent and likely permanent. She claims she experiences pain and discomfort while commuting to work, at work, doing household work, and during recreational activity. She complains of intermittent weakness and lack of sensitivity in her left hand. She claims she is unable to predict when she will be symptomatic.  In this case, in addition to minimal cosmetic damage to the vehicles, the plaintiff’s subjective complaints were not objectively verifiable, and in any event her injuries were minor and of minimal impact on her life. The plaintiff has not missed any work and has no claim for past wage loss or for loss of future earning capacity despite maintaining a permanent partial disability. The evidence establishes the plaintiff suffered soft tissue injuries of a minor nature, with continued minor, intermittent numbness and tingling in her left arm and fingers, which injuries have had and will have minimal impact on her life.  In the result, based on an assessment of the evidence and considering the authorities relied on by counsel, the plaintiff is awarded general damages in the amount of $20,000. In addition, she is awarded special damages in the amount of $283, with court order interest. With the agreement of counsel, costs are set pursuant to Supreme Court Civil Rules, R.15-1(15)(c) at $11,000 and disbursements.
Adding to this site’s archived caselaw dealing with BC Supreme Court’s Fast Track Rule, reasons for judgement were released addressing the appropriate costs for a Fast Track trial which exceeds 3 days.
Rule 15-1(15)(c) fixes costs for fast track trials which exceed two days at $11,000 “unless the court otherwise orders”. In the recent case (Coutakis v. Lean) the Court held that the circumstances were appropriate to depart from this default amount.
In the Coutakis case the Plaintiff suffered C6/7 disk herniation. His claim proceeded via fast track trial and ultimately took more than three days to conclude. The Plaintiff argued that the $11,000 costs cap should be set aside to account for the lengthier than anticipated trial. Mr. Justice Saunders agreed finding that the pronged hearing was due in part to the Defendant leading “irrelevant” and “ineffectual” evidence. In assessing costs at $14,000 the court provided the following reasons:  Under subrule 15-1(15), the court is given a wide discretion to order an amount of costs other than the fixed amounts set out therein. In my view, this is a case which clearly calls for the exercise of that discretion, in favour of the plaintiff. That the hearing of the evidence took three days, rather than two, was largely as a result of the defence’s cross-examination of four of the plaintiff’s treating physicians, and the defence’s tendering as opinion evidence of the consultation report of a neurosurgeon. Hearing the evidence of all of these physicians took more than three hours, and, as I stated in my judgment, all of it was ineffectual. Further time was spent hearing irrelevant evidence from the defendant.  I find that the plaintiff is entitled to costs for each of the four days spent hearing evidence and argument, and for the fifth day which was scheduled but on which the trial did not proceed.  The plaintiff seeks a further allocation for additional preparation associated with the trial being continued eight months after it commenced. Having reviewed the evidence before the court on the third day of trial, I do not think that the additional preparation would likely have been significant, and in any event any further cost incurred by the plaintiff is addressed by having awarded the plaintiff full costs for the aborted day of trial.  Using the amounts prescribed in the subrule as reference points, I award the plaintiff base costs of $14,000, plus disbursements.
If you would like further information or require assistance, please get in touch.
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.
This blog is authored by personal injury and ICBC Claims lawyer Erik Magraken. Use of the site and sending or receiving information through it does not establish a solicitor/client relationship. The views expressed and the content provided on this blog is for nonprofit educational purposes. It is not, and is not intended to be, legal advice on any specific set of facts. The use of this website does not create a solicitor-client (attorney-client) relationship. If you require legal advice, you should contact a lawyer directly.