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Tag: Rule 3-2(1)

Lawyer Ordered to Pay Costs Personally for "Shoddy Piece of Counsel Work"

In an illustration of a seldom used power, reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, ordering a Plaintiff’s lawyer to pay costs to Defendants personally pursuant to Rule 14-1(33) after bringing an unsuccessful application to renew a lawsuit.
In this week’s case (Drover v. BCE Inc.,) the Plaintiff sued various Defendants challenging system access fees collected by cellular companies.   It was a proposed class action.  The lawsuit was filed in 2004 and various Defendants were served the lawsuit via fax.  Some Defendants questioned the propriety of fax service to which the Plaintiff’s lawyer responded “we believe the Court will accept service by Facsimile“.
No steps were taken to perfect service until 2012 when the matter was brought before the Court with the Plaintiff asking the Court to permit “the plaintiffs to serve the statement of claim”.  The Court refused noting that the Plaintiff’s lawyer “did not bother to consider the relief that might be available under the Rules.  Instead, he seemed to be content with putting a general concept in his application in the hope of attracting the court’s sympathy.”  The Court found this was “unacceptable” and dismissed the application after canvassing the factors under Rule 3-2(1).
Mr. Justice Weatherill awarded multiple Defendants costs and further ordered that the Plaintiff’s lawyer personally pay these.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:
[62]         In my view, this is an exceptional case.  The conduct of counsel for the plaintiffs has caused costs to be wasted through delay and neglect.  Plaintiffs’ counsel neglected this action for over 8 years.  When he got around to dealing with it by bringing this application, he failed to set out the proper relief.  Furthermore, the application was not supported by any evidence explaining either the delay or the failure to comply with the Rules regarding the need for an endorsement and proper service.  Moreover, the application was brought against defendants against whom there was no basis for the order(s) sought.  To say that this was and has from the outset been a shoddy piece of counsel work would be an understatement.
[63]         I am ordering that E.F. Anthony Merchant, Q.C. be personally liable for the foregoing awards of costs, payable forthwith.

Renewing a Lawsuit and the New BC Supreme Court Civil Rules

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, applying Rule 3-2(1) of the New BC Supreme Court Civil Rules.  This rule permits the Court to renew a Notice of Civil Claim before or after it expires.  Today’s case is the first I’m aware of applying this new rule.
In today’s case (Stuart v. Patterson) the Plaintiff was injured in two consecutive instances while engaging in exercises known as “dead-lifts”.  These exercises were apparently being supervised by the Defendant.  The Plaintiff started two separate lawsuits against the Defendant alleging that he was at fault for her injuries.  The Plaintiff’s lawyer failed to serve the Writ of Summons within the first year after filing.  The Plaintiff brought an application to renew the lawsuit relying on Rule 3-2(1) of the New Rules of Court.
Madam Justice Fitzpatrick found that the Plaintiff’s lawyer acted reasonably in taking steps to renew  the lawsuit after learning it expired and that there was little prejudice to the Defendant and accordingly renewed the filed documents for a further two months permitting them to be properly served on the Defendants.  In doing so the Court seemed to accept that Rule 3-2(1) reads almost identically to the old Rule 9(1) and that the precedents developed under the old rule remain in force.   Madam Justice Fitzpatrick summarized the applicable law as follows:

[10]         The leading case on the test to be applied on this application is Bearhead v. Moorhouse, [1977] B.C.J. No. 1324, (1977), 3 B.C.L.R. 81 (S.C.), upheld on appeal (1978), 5 B.C.L.R. 380. The test adopted by the Court of Appeal at that time requires the court to ask itself the basic question of “what is necessary to see that justice is done?”  In considering that question, the following factors are to be considered:

1.               Was the application to renew brought promptly?

2.               Did the defendants have notice of the claim before the writ expired?

3.               Did the defendant suffer prejudice?

4.               Was the failure to serve the writ attributable to the actions of the defendants?

5.               Was the failure to serve the writ attributable to the actions of the plaintiff?

[11]         Recent considerations of these factors are found in our Court of Appeal decisions of Seeliger v. Eagle Ridge Hospital, 2007 BCCA 582, and Fast Fuel Services Ltd. v. Michelin North America (Canada) Inc., 2008 BCCA 216.

[12]         It is clear from the authorities cited to me by both counsel that each case is to be decided on its particular facts.

[13]         Further, counsel for Ms. Stuart refers me to the statements from the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal in Simpson v. Saskatchewan Government Insurance Office (1967), 61 W.W.R. 741, at p. 750, 65 D.L.R. (2d) 324, to the effect that failure to renew a writ is an “irregularity” and that “if the refusal to renew the writ would do an obvious and substantial injustice to the plaintiff, while to permit it is not going to work any substantial injustice to the defendant or prejudice the defendant’s defence, then the writ should be renewed”: see Bearhead, BCCA at para. 8; Lowe v. Christensen (1984), 54 B.C.L.R. 88 (C.A.) at para. 13; Sutherland v. McLeod, 2004 BCCA 653, at paras. 28-29.

[14]         I accordingly consider the Bearhead factors: