Tag: Rule 7-1(1)

MSP and Pharmanet Printouts Disclosable on a Case by Case Basis


Two documents that ICBC routinely asks Plaintiff’s to produce in the course of personal injury lawsuits are MSP and Pharmanet Printouts.  These are documents which essentially keep track of all of a Plaintiff’s medical visits and prescription medication fillings.  Does a Plaintiff need to comply with a request to produce these documents?  Reasons for judgement were released last month by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, addressing this issue finding that these documents are not automatically producible but very well may be depending on the facts of the case.
In last month’s case (Edwards v. Ganzer) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2008 collision.  In the course of the lawsuit ICBC requested that the Plaintiff produce her MSP and Pharmanet Printouts for various periods of time.  Ultimately the Plaintiff was required to produce some of these records.  Prior to making the production order Master Bouck provided the following reasons addressing production requests for these records:

[51] Thus, in a personal injury action, a plaintiff’s MSP and Med Profile will not be ordered produced to the defence regardless of the facts of the case. At the very least, there must be some “air of reality” between the documents and the issues in the action: Moukhine v. Collins at para. 22.

[52] Correspondingly, decisions where the production of these kinds of records have been denied will likely have little or no precedential value to the plaintiff here as the facts are bound to differ from those in the case at bar.

[53] Neither of these propositions represents a change in the law since the introduction of the SCCR.

[54] What is new to this discussion is the role that proportionality plays in making an order under Rule 7-1(14). Although not specifically provided for in Rule 7-1, it is only logical that the court should take into account the objects stated in Rule 1?3 (2) when exercising its discretion with respect to compliance with the broader disclosure demand: see Kim v. Lin, 2010 BCSC 1386 at para. 29. Indeed, those objectives have been considered by the court in the decisions already cited.

[55] In terms of relevancy, the plaintiff has already acknowledged the relevancy of the MSP and Med Profile records by disclosing these records on her initial list of documents. It would seem apparent that the plaintiff concedes that this document ought to be produced under the Guano test.

[56] While the plaintiff’s submissions suggest that privacy concerns come into play, there is no evidence from the plaintiff herself (either directly or on information and belief) which might justify aHalliday form of order: Gorse v. Straker, 2010 BCSC 119 at paras. 12, 13 and 36.

[57] Paraphrasing the test set out in Global Pacific, the issue to be determined is whether the MSP and/or Med Profile records sought can properly be said to contain information which mayenable the defendant to advance his case or damage the case of the plaintiff, if it is a document which may fairly lead to a train of inquiry, or if it may have either of these consequences.

[58] Both the evidence and pleadings raised issues of mitigation (i.e. rehabilitation efforts; following professional advice on medication). In that respect, both the MSP and Med Profile record may enable the defence to prove that the plaintiff has failed to mitigate her damages. In addition, these records may serve the purpose described in Creed v. Dorio; that is, to test the credibility and reliability of the evidence presented by the plaintiff to date on her post-accident health.

[59] I have concluded that on the facts of this case, the plaintiff’s MSP record and the post-accident Med Profile ought to be listed and produced pursuant to the demand made under Rule 7-1(11).

ICBC Litigation Privilege Claim Fails Due to "Investigative Stage" Finding

Further to my previous article on this topic, reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, addressing the circumstances when a defence litigation privilege claim will fail due to records being created during ICBC’s “investigative stage” following a collision.
In last week’s case (Bako v. Gray) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2008 collision.  In the course of the lawsuit the Defendant listed several documents as privileged.  These included an ICBC adjuster’s notes and further the notes of an independent adjuster hired by ICBC.  The Plaintiff brought an application to produce these records.  The Defendant refused arguing these records were subject to litigation privilege and that they were created for the dominant purpose of preparing for litigation.
Master Caldwell rejected this argument finding the records were more likely created during ICBC’s investigative stage.  In ordering production of the records the Court provided the following reasons:
[5] In Hamalainen (Committee of) v. Sippola, [1991] B.C.J. No. 3614 (C.A.) the Court of Appeal approved the reasoning and findings of Master Grist (as he then was) that there is an investigative stage and a litigation stage, that it was proper for the Master to determine when litigation became a reasonable prospect and further to determine when in the overall process the dominant purpose for the creation of documents became the preparation for or pursuit of litigation. The court further confirmed that in making that determination the Master was not bound or obliged to accept the adjusters’ opinions on those central issues to be decided…

[21] In his initial entry note in the defendant’s file on November 21, Mr. Matheson includes the following entries:

DICTATED MY NFA, AND A LETTER TO I/A DON UNRAU, WHOM I HAVE ASKED TO BE MY “LIASON” (sic) WITH ZOLTAN, SO LONG AS HE REMAINS UNREPRESENTED;

IN ANY EVENT, THE PLAN IS VERY SIMPLE. MONITOR ZOLTAN’S PROGRESS & OBTAIN UPDATED CLINICALS & REPORTED (sic) PERIODICALLY…AND HOPEFULLY, SETTLE HIM UNREPRESENTED SOMETIME BEFORE THE 2 YEAR LIMITATIONS PRESCRIBES. LOOKS LIKE ZOLTAN IS ASKING HIS GP TO REFER HIM TO DR. ROBINSON (RE: HIS HA’S)…I’LL BOOK A PRECAUTIONARY IME WITH DR. MICHAEL JONES, “JUST IN CASE”

I DON’T HAVE ANY CONCERNS RE:  CREDIBILITY, BASED ON WHAT I HAVE SEEN TO DATE.

[22] On November 25, 2008 Mr. Matheson made further notes to the file, including:

SO LONG AS MR BAKO REMAINS UNREPRESENTED, AND CONTINUES TO WORK, THE RISK EXPOSURE OF THIS FILE IS MODERATE.

I AM GOING TO RETAINED DON UNRAU, INDEPENDENT ADJUSTER, TO ACT AS MY LIAISON WITH THE PLAINTIFF.

I WILL SET UP A PRECAUTIONARY IME WITH DR MICHAEL JONES (NEUROLOGIST)

[23] These entries clearly indicate that as of late November 2008, Mr. Matheson’s focus was on information gathering and settlement, with both being done quickly and before Mr. Bako retained counsel; when litigation type issues did arise they were referred to as “precautionary” or “just in case”, neither of which is at all consistent with his sworn assertion that he “believed this matter would result in litigation” when he first received the file.

[24] Based on my review of the materials, it is of little import whether Ms. McIntosh or Mr. Matheson had charge of the files between November 10, 2008 and March 16, 2009, or for that matter, September 22, 2009 when the Writ was filed and sent for delivery to ICBC. Nothing in the materials supports Mr. Matheson’s assertion that he had a reasonable basis to determine and that he did determine that there was a reasonable prospect of litigation in this case.

[25] Save and except for references to reserves, the CWMS notes are ordered to be produced in unredacted form up to and including September 22, 2009.

[26] All references to the independent adjuster in November of 2008, centered on him simply being a “liaison” between Mr. Matheson and Mr. Bako, at least for so long as Mr. Bako remained unrepresented; the report is dated shortly after Mr. Bako did retain counsel. Again, I see no support for any conclusion other than that his involvement was related directly to Mr. Matheson’s stated intention to settle the file before Mr. Bako retained counsel. The report is ordered produced.

Document Production Obligations and the New Supreme Court Civil Rules


One of the goals of the New Rules of Court was to make litigation “just, speedy and inexpensive” and to simplify the process.  One area where the Rules have fallen short of this goal is the area of pre-trial document disclosure obligations.  Under the former Rules parties were bound by one consistent (but arguably over-broad) test.  Now parties are met with a host of obligations which were well summarized in reasons for judgement released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry.
In this week’s case (Edwards v. Ganzer) the Plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle collision.  A dispute arose with respect the Plaintiff’s disclosure obligations.  In resolving the dispute Master Bouck provided the following reasons summarizing the legal disclosure obligations (and dispute process) under Rule 7-1:

[39] Biehl v. Strang is the seminal decision of Punnett J. addressing (mostly) the primary obligation of document disclosure under Rule 7-1(1) (a). The remaining decisions touch upon, if not directly address, the document disclosure obligations under both Rule 7-1(1)(a) and Rule 7-1(14) of the SCCR.

[40] In addition, Master Baker has recently discussed the application of Rule 7-1 in Burgess v. Buell Distribution Corp., 2011 BCSC 1740.

[41] I understand the principles outlined in these various decisions, together with the applicable Rules, to be as follows:

a. The initial production obligation under Rule 7-1 (1) (a) (i) is limited to what is required to prove or disprove a material fact: Biehl v. Strang at para. 14;

b.  Rule 7-1(10) allows the opposing party to issue a written demand requiring the listing party to amend the original list and produce documents that should have been disclosed under Rule 7-1(1)(a)(i);

c.  In addition, Rule 7-1(11) allows the opposing party to issue a written demand requiring the listing party to amend the list and produce documents which ought to be disclosed under a test “close to” that set out in Compagnie Financiere et Commerciale du Pacifique v. Peruvian Guano Company (1882), 11 Q.B.D. 55 at 63, (the “Guano test”): Global Pacific at para. 9;

d.  The distinction between the two types of disclosure provided for under Rule 7-1 is stated in Global Pacific as follows:

The question is whether a document can properly be said to contain information which may enable the party requiring the document either to advance his own case or damage the case of his adversary, if it is a document which may fairly lead him to a train of inquiry, or if it may have either of those two consequences. Therefore, it is acknowledged that the initial disclosure under Rule 7-1(1) relates to a materiality requirement, but that a party can apply to the court, as the defendant did here, for broader disclosure pursuant to Rule 7-1(14).

(my emphasis.)

Para. 9

e.  Both the demand by the requesting party and the response of the opposing party should be set out in writing addressing the terms and criteria used in Rule 7-1. Whether the demand and response provide sufficient particularity is a matter of the court’s discretion;

f.  If an application is brought under Rule 7-1(13) for the listing or production of  documents, the court may either order compliance with the demand, excuse full compliance, or order partial compliance: Rule 7-1(14);

g.  The objectives of the SCCR, including proportionality, may be taken into account by the court when exercising its discretion under Rule 7-1(14). The proportionality rule can be applied to either expand or restrict the required production of documents: Global Pacific citing Whitcombe v. Avec Insurance Managers Inc., 2011 BCSC 204.

[42] Interestingly, a party may be excused from compliance with Rule 7-1(1) generally, but the court is not given the specific power to order compliance with a demand made for the listing and production of the so-called “materiality” documents. Rule 7-1(14) only specifically allows for an order requiring compliance with a broader disclosure demand under Rule 7-1(11): Global Pacific; Burgess v. Buell Distribution Corp. Whether this distinction is an oversight or intentional is difficult to say. It might well be the former, given that Rule 7-1(13) contemplates a compliance order by the court if a demand for the “material” documents is issued. The distinction is more fully canvassed in Burgess v. Buell Distribution Corp. at para. 15.

Social Media and Computer Hard Drive Requests "A fishing expedition…without the appropriate bait"


Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dismissing a defendant application requesting the production of a Plaintiff’s Facebook postings, Twitter postings, Computer Hard Drive and Iphone.
Today’s case (Dosanjh v. Leblanc and St. Paul’s Hospital) involved allegations of medical malpractice.  The plaintiff said she suffered “cognitive impairment that has affected her thinking process“.  She sued for damages.  The Defendants brought an application seeking that the Plaintiff produce her private social media account information and computer hard-drive data arguing that this information would be relevant to the claimed damages.  Master Taylor dismissed the application finding such a broad application, even in the face of alleged cognitive injuries, was “a classic fishing expedition, but without the appropriate bait.“.  Master Taylor provided the following reasons:

[28] The defendant has not indicated the material fact or facts which it believes can be proved by searching the plaintiff’s personal computer and her social media sites.  Rather, the defendant merely says that health, enjoyment of life and employability are in issue.  Surely more is or should be required to meet the test of Rule 7-1(1)(a)(i) than just saying a particular matter is in issue in order to infringe on a litigant’s privacy.

[29] To be able to obtain a litigant’s private thoughts and feelings as expressed to friends or family members after the fact is, in my view, similar to a party intercepting private communications of another party.

[30] I am unable to envisage any rational justification for breaching the privacy rights of an individual in civil proceedings simply because it is alleged that the individual’s general health, enjoyment of life and employability are directly at issue.  Merely because a record may be made of the communication shouldn’t make it any different than a private telephone conversation.  If not, surely applications in civil proceedings for recordings of private communications can’t be far behind…

[33] I am satisfied that the defendant’s application is entirely too broad and lacks the focus required by Rule 7-1(1)(a)(i).  In fact, I am more inclined to call this application a classic fishing expedition, but without the appropriate bait.  I observe as well that the order made by the court in Bishop, supra, was focussed on the times the plaintiff spent on his Facebook account on his computer, and did not give the defendant cart blanche to troll through the plaintiff’s correspondence as is sought in the application before me.

Documented "Prior Inconsistent Statements" Need To Be Listed Under the New Rules of Court

Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dealing with document listing obligations under the new Rules of Court.
In last week’s case (Tran v. Kim Le Holdings Ltd.) the Plaintiff sued for damages as a result of personal injuries.  In the course of trial the Defendant called a witness who gave evidence as to the circumstances of the Plaintiff’s injury which were not favourable to the Plaintiff’s case.  The same witness had provided the Plaintiff’s lawyer a statement years before the trial with a different version of events.  The Plaintiff failed to disclose the existence of this document in her list of documents.  The Plaintiff argued that the new Rules of Court don’t require such statements to be listed as they only go to credibility which is a collateral matter.
Mr. Justice Harris disagreed finding that statements containing prior witness inconsistencies can go beyond the issue of credibility and therefore need to be listed.  The Court provided the following reasons:

[13] Counsel submits, first, that a prior inconsistent statement is not a document that could be used to prove or disprove a material fact. It is a document relevant only to credibility. Therefore, it is not required to be listed. Secondly, counsel submits that until the contradictory evidence was given by the witness, counsel had no intention of using the document at trial. The use of the document has only become necessary because of the surprise in the evidence that was given.

[14] I turn to deal with this point. I must say that I am sceptical that the plaintiff’s argument is correct. It is common ground that the document here is covered by litigation privilege, which necessarily ties it into relevant issues in the litigation. Rule 7?1(6) governs the listing of privileged documents. It is not obvious to me from the wording of the rule that the scope of the obligation set out in Rule 7?1(6) is qualified or limited by Rule 7?1(1).

[15] More importantly, however, prior inconsistent statements can be used, in my view, to prove or disprove material facts. Depending on how a witness responds to the statement when put to the witness, the effect of the use of the statement may well go beyond merely affecting credibility. The witness may adopt the content of the statement insofar as it relates to material facts; in that sense, at least, statements can facilitate the proof of material facts. Statements can facilitate the proof of material facts even if the witness does not adopt them, because findings on material facts may be affected by findings on credibility. But if a witness does adopt a prior inconsistent statement and accept the truth of it, that statement may be used as proof of the truth of its contents, and thereby be used to prove or disprove material facts.

[16] A fine parsing of the obligation to list documents is, in my view, contrary to the policy of disclosure which is exemplified by the Stone decision in the Court of Appeal.

Mr. Justice Harris agreed that while the document should have been listed, it could be used in cross examination as the failure to list was done in good faith and further there was no real prejudice to the Defendant.  In doing so the  Court applied the following factors in exercising its discretion:

[19] What is clear, however, from these cases is that my discretion has to be exercised on the basis of the following principles:

(a)      whether there is prejudice to the party being cross-examined ?? in this case, of course, it is a witness who is being cross-examined, but the relevant prejudice is to the defendants;

(b)      whether a reasonable explanation of the party’s failure to disclose has been provided;

(c)      whether excluding the document would prevent the determination of the issue on its merits; and

(d)      whether, in the circumstances of the case, the ends of justice require the documents to be admitted.

[24] It is evident that there is a policy against insulating a witness from cross-examination on prior inconsistent statements, because to do so would undermine the search for truth. It is also evident that requiring listing can be seen in some respects as being inconsistent with the purpose of litigation privilege. Both of these points were accepted in the Cahoon decision, in the context of a discussion of the limitation, or explanation, of the scope of the Stone decision…

[33] I observe further, with respect to prejudice, that the defendants could readily have determined whether or not the witness had given a statement. The fact of the existence of the statement was within the knowledge of the defendants. It is not a situation quite like Stone where there would simply be an assumption by counsel that a pain journal had likely been kept and that the fact of the existence of the document could not be verified without the document having been listed. In my view, this mitigates the prejudice, to some degree, that is associated with the use of the document.

[34] Weighing and balancing these conflicting principles, I have reached the conclusion that, in the interests of justice, counsel ought to be permitted to use the document for the purpose of cross-examination.

"Investigative Stage" Trumps ICBC's Litigation Privilege Claim


Given ICBC’s monopoly over vehicle insurance in BC they typically have to perform multiple roles following a collision including investigating the issue of fault in order to make internal decisions regarding the premium consequences for the customers involved in the crash.  Documents prepared during this ‘investigative‘ stage generally need to be produced during litigation and claims for litigation privilege will fail.  Reasons for judgement were released this week further demonstrating this fact.
In this week’s case (Fournier v. Stangroom) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2007 collision.  In the early days following the crash and well before litigation got underway ICBC retained an engineering firm to inspect the Plaintiff’s vehicle.  The engineering firm communicated their findings to ICBC.  In the course of the lawsuit the Defence lawyer commissioned an expert report from the same firm but did not exchange it with the Plaintiff’s lawyer.
The Plaintiff made the typical document disclosure demands from the Defendants.   These were not complied with in a satisfactory fashion resulting in a Court application.   The Defence lawyer argued that the full file from the engineering firm is subject to litigation privilege.  Master Caldwell disagreed and ultimately ordered better document disclosure inlcuding production of the engineering firms materials documenting their initial investigation.  In making this order Master Caldwell provided the following reasons:




[11] On August 9, 2007 the initial adjuster on the file requested MEA or one of their engineers to examine the plaintiff’s vehicle in order to determine whether the plaintiff was wearing his seatbelt at the time of the collision. The engineer did so, communicated with the adjuster the following day with questions and subsequently reported to the adjuster on September 13, 2007. That adjuster referred to that report as being sufficient for his purposes; the next adjuster, Ms. Madsen referred to the “verbal report” as being “sufficient for the purposes of handling the claim SHORT OF LITIGATION” (emphasis mine).

[12] In early 2011 defence counsel commissioned MEA to prepare an expert report, apparently regarding the seatbelt issue, for possible use at trial; he says that since such a report has now been requested, the engineer’s file material, notes and such are not producible unless and until the report is received and provided to plaintiff’s counsel 84 days before trial.

[13] In cases such as this one, the adjuster or adjusters have duties of investigation on behalf of both the plaintiff and the defendants; there must, almost of necessity, be an initial period of adjusting or investigating to discover the factual matrix within which the adjusters will perform their duties and assess the file and the claims or roles of the interested parties. Absent such period and process of investigation the adjuster can have no reasonable basis upon which to conclude that there is a reasonable prospect of litigation and that all or part of what is done from any given point in time forward is done for the dominant purpose of litigation. In this regard see Hamalainen (Committee of) v. Sippola (1991) 62 BCLR (2d) 254 (BCCA).

[14] These engineers were approached within the first 3 weeks following the collision, clearly within the period of initial investigation and was even seen by at least one of the adjusters as being used for purposes of handling the file short of litigation. The investigative material, notes, correspondence and other such recordings of the engineers were not created at a time when litigation was a reasonable prospect; neither were they created for the dominant purpose of litigation. The fact that counsel has now requested an expert report from MEA does nothing to change that any more than a request to a G.P. or plaintiff’s medical expert that he or she provide an expert report renders that practitioner’s clinical records privileged.

[15] The MEA investigative material, notes, correspondence and working papers which arose between August 9, 2007 and September 13, 2007 inclusive are not subject to a valid claim of litigation privilege; they are ordered to be listed and to be produced to plaintiff’s counsel within 14 days. If there are any other MEA materials which arose between September 14, 2007 and the date when defence counsel commissioned their expert report, those are to be listed with the required clarity, date and description in order that any further claim of litigation privilege can be properly assessed.





Exclusion of Witnesses Results in New Trial in Chronic Pain Case

This week the BC Court of Appeal released reasons for judgement ordering a new trial following a chronic pain case which resulted in a $525,000 damage assessment.
In this week’s case (Houston v. Kine) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2006 collision.  She allegedly suffered from PTSD and a chronic pain disorder as a result of the crash.  The matter went to trial although did not conclude in the time initially allotted.
There was a 5 month gap before the trial recommenced.  During this break ICBC undertook surveillance of the Plaintiff over two periods of time.  The Defence lawyers, however, failed to disclose this evidence in compliance with the Rules of Court.  As a result the trial judge refused to let the evidence in.  The Court went further, however, and held that the witnesses who made the videos could not testify as to their observations of the Plaintiff as doing so would undermine the decision to exclude the video evidence.
The Defendants appealed arguing that the witnesses were wrongly excluded.  The BC Court of Appeal agreed and found that while “the defendants’ choice at trial to withhold the existence of the videotapes….was inappropriate” and that this evidence was rightly excluded it was improper to exclude the witnesses themselves to testify.  In ordering a new trial the BC Court of Appeal provided the following reasons:






[31] The obvious difficulty with the viva voce evidence was that the observers were unknown to the defendants prior to the hiatus in the trial. The earliest that they could have been identified was in November of 2009. By then, the plaintiff’s preparation for trial was all but over. To constrain the defendants’ ability to react to the plaintiff’s evidence to “prevent surprise or ambush” in my view unfairly restricted their ability to have the proceeding determined on its merits. As the trial judge accepted that there was no restriction on calling lay witnesses, she erred in imposing that restriction respecting witnesses who could comment on the plaintiff’s activities during the hiatus in the trial.

[32] The trial judge’s second reason for refusing to allow the observation witnesses to testify was that:

It would be inconsistent with my previous order and with the objects of the Rules, expressed in R. 1(5), “to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every proceeding on its merits,” to allow the defendants to, in effect, ambush the plaintiff with this evidence, which has been disclosed only recently.

[33] In my view the trial judge here misapplied Rule 1(5), focussing on speed in the completion of the proceedings at the expense of their merits. The Rule and the third factor in Stoneemphasize the importance of the determination of a proceeding on its merits. In order to determine a proceeding on its merits, the admissible evidence that is tendered by a party and is relevant to matters in issue should be considered.

[34] In addition, given that the original trial estimate was exceeded by the plaintiff’s case, necessitating the adjournment of the trial that caused the hiatus that brought about the acquisition of new evidence by the defendants, I am unable to accept that the delay resulting from the proposed evidence should have been treated any differently from the delay that was occasioned by the initial inadequate trial time estimate. The failure to do so prevented the determination of these proceedings on their merits. I conclude that the trial judge erred in law in refusing to permit the witnesses to give viva voce evidence at the trial…







[36] Here, the credibility of the plaintiff was a critical factor in the trial judge’s assessment of quantum, and the evidence of the observers was intended to directly address the plaintiff’s credibility. In my view, the refusal of the trial judge to permit the defendants to adduce evidence to challenge the plaintiff’s physical abilities at the date of the trial was unfair, and given the importance of this evidence to the ultimate award of damages for future diminished earning capacity and future cost of care, I see no alternative but to order a new trial on damages. I would thus allow the appeal and order a new trial.

Counselling Record Production Request Denied as Irrelevant and Privileged


Concise reasons for judgement were recently released discussing the scope of document production limits under the New Rules of Court.  In today’s case (RCL v. SCF) the Plaintiff was seeking damages following a motor vehicle collision.  He had a history of emotional difficulties stemming in part from childhood abuse.  He received counselling regarding this from the Elizabeth Fry Society.  The Defendant requested a Court Order for production of these records.
Master Young refused the application as going beyond the narrower document production test under the New Rules of Court and further held that even if the documents were relevant they were privileged under the Wigmore criteria.  The Court provided the following reasons:

[1] The application is being brought under our new Rule 7-1(1). The relevancy test in the Supreme Court Rules has now narrowed to one of direct relevance, to use the words of the section, “to prove or disprove a material fact”, and it is no longer a chain of inquiry test related to any matter in question. I am not satisfied that these records will assist in proving any material fact.

[2] The defendant already knows that the plaintiff was abused as a child; that this event caused him emotional pain; that he attempted suicide; that he sought help from the Elizabeth Fry Society; that he missed work prior to the motor vehicle accident; and that he suffers from borderline personality disorder and depression. I also note a record that his brother passed away shortly before this accident. The defendant has obtained volumes of clinical records. I do not see how the detail of the counselling at Elizabeth Fry or the details of the abuse are going to add anything to the information they already have. It is clearly a request based on a chain of inquiry that there might be something relevant in those records.

[3] Everyone agrees that the Wigmore criteria that is set out in the Slavutych v. Baker decision is the relevant test to determine if the records are privileged, and I am not going to repeat those four criteria, but criteria 1 to 3 were conceded to exist, and there was some debate in submissions about whether criteria 4 has been met, and that says that (as read in):

The injury that would inure to the relationship by the disclosure of the communications must be greater than the benefit thereby gained for the correct disposal of the litigation.

[4] I agree with Mr. Williams that the case of M. v. Martinson is directly on point. Paragraph 4 of the Wigmore criteria has been interpreted in the broad sense as one of a public policy issue. Would the public interest and the proper administration of justice outweigh in importance any public interest that may be protected by upholding the claim for privilege? As Master Joyce (as he then was) said at para. 18 (as read in):

I find there is great public interest in encouraging victims of abuse to seek counselling and to be assured of the confidentiality of that communication. The public interest is served if that confidentiality is fostered to the greatest possible degree.

[5] What of the interests of justice? Is the central issue in this case before me today in this lawsuit the same as might be contained in those records? I think not. There have already been several other sources outlining this plaintiff’s prior psychological problems. These records are at best peripherally related to the material issue. I am not convinced that in the interests of justice, I should breach that confidential relationship at all, not even to review those records myself and certainly not under this new narrow test for document production in our Rules of Court.

[6] So on that basis, I am denying the application.

More on Document Disclosure: Hard Drives, Phone and Banking Records


(Note: I’m informed that the case discussed in the below post is under appeal.  When the appellate decision comes to my attention I will update this post)
As previously discussed, one of the areas being worked out by the BC Supreme Court is the extent of document production obligations in personal injury lawsuits under the New Rules of Court.  Further reasons for judgement addressing this subject were recently brought to my attention.
In the recent (unreported) case of Shackelford v. Sweeney the Plaintiff was injured in a 2009 motor vehicle collision.  He alleged serious injuries including a head injury with resulting cognitive difficulties.  The Plaintiff was a successful self-employed recruiter and his claim included potentially significant damages for diminished earning capacity.
In the course of the lawsuit ICBC applied for various records supposedly to investigate the income loss claim including production of the Plaintiff’s computer hard-drive, phone records and banking records.  The application was partially successful with Master Taylor providing the following reasons addressing these requests:
[7]  In relation to the cellphone records, the plaintiff gave evidence at his examination for discovery that he conducted most of his business over the telephone or the Internet, and he rarely met with people, and therefore it is suggested that the cell phone records relating to his business are probative.  I agree that they can be probative, but I do not believe that the actual phone numbers themselves would be probative in any particular method or way.  What is probative is how much the plaintiff used his phone on a daily or weekly basis to conduct his business
[8]  Accordingly, I am going to order that the cellphone records that relate to his business, from January 1, 2007, to the present date, be produced, but in all circumstances every phone number but the area code is to be redacted….
[13]  The Defendants also seek an order that the plaintiff produce the hard drive from the laptop he was using when he was operating (his recruiting business)…
[17]  …As there is an ongoing obligation by the Plaintiff to produce all business records in relation to this claim, I say that the obligation continues with respect to the hard drive that exists, and that the plaintiff has the obligation to examine the hard drive himself and/or with counsel, and extract any of his business records from there and provide them to the defendants.
[18]  If the Plaintiff requires the services of a technician to assist in that regard, then the cost of that will be borne by the defendants.  Once the business records have been extracted and redacted for privacy concerns, those documents will be henceforth provided to the defendants within 14 days thereafter…
[21]  I think that only leaves bank statements relating to business income.  I think the plaintiff has a positive obligation to provide some information with respect to his income, showing his income being deposited into his bank account.  Where that in the bank statements shows, it should be left unredacted, but where it shows anything related to his wife or private unrelated business purchases , those may also be redacted.
This case is worth reviewing in full for other matters such as a declined request for production of the Plaintiff’s passport and client names.
At this time this case is unreported however, as always, I’m happy to e-mail a copy to anyone who contacts me and requests the reasons for judgement.

Contact

If you would like further information or require assistance, please get in touch.

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.

“Work hard, be kind and enjoy the ride!”
Erik’s Philosophy

Disclaimer