Tag: Rule 7-2(2)

"There Is No (Discovery) Continuation As of Right Once a Matter is Removed From Fast Track"

Unreported reasons by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, were recently shared with me finding that there is no right for examination for discovery continuation once a matter is removed from fast track prosecution.
In the recent case (Nordin v. Wong) the Plaintiff sued for damages for injuries and her claim was initially prosecuted under Rule 15.  She underwent examinations for discovery which was limited to the two hour cap under the fast track rule.
The case was removed from Rule 15 and the Defendant sought a further discovery under the greater timelines allowed.  In dismissing the application and finding there was “no continuation as of right” when a matter is removed from fast track Master Scarth provided the following reasons:
[4]  To the extent that this is an application for a continuation of the examination for discovery which took place in May of 2014, I am satisfied that it should be dismissed…
[5]  Counsel conducting the discovery stated it to be concluded.  Responses have been provided to the outstanding document requests, and the defendant here concedes that nothing arises fro the material which was so provided.   Further, there is no continuation as of right once a matter is removed from fast track…No conditions were placed on the removal of the action from fast track, apparently it not being in the contemplation of the defendant at the tine that they might require a further discovery.
[6] In my view, therefore, the fact that Rule 7-2(2) provides for seven hours of discovery does not assist the defendant here.  
 

Discovery Continuation Distinct from a Further Examination

As previously discussed, the law sets a heavy burden when a party seeks a second examination for discovery in a lawsuit in the BC Supreme Court.  There is a distinction, however, between a second discovery and a continuation of an incomplete one.  This distinction was discussed in reasons for judgement released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry.
In this week’s case (Li v. Oneil) the Plaintiff was examined for discovery at which various requests for further information were made.  When the Defendant sought to schedule a continuation of the discovery the Plaintiff opposed arguing the heavy burden for a further discovery was not met.  Master Muir granted the application noting the distinction between concluding an incomplete discovery based on outstanding requests and a genuine further examination.  The Court provided the following reasons:
[11]         The application before me, despite being framed as an application for a further discovery, was in reality an application that the examination of the plaintiff continue, both in accordance with R. 7-2(22) and generally, based on production of new material such as the list of special damages, medical records and employment records. In support, he relies on the decisions in Cowan v. Davies, 2008 BCSC 1239, and Dhami v. Bath, 2012 BCSC 2077…
[15]         I am of the view that the examination for discovery was adjourned as contemplated by these rules. Thus, the defendant is entitled to continue its examination for discovery regarding questions left on the record and I am of the view that logically extends to questions based on documents requested at the discovery and subsequently produced.
[16]         As the examination for discovery was not concluded, the heavy onus required to justify a further discovery referred to in Sutherland v. Lucas is not engaged. Given the extensive document production since the examination for discovery was conducted, I am also of the view that the defendant is entitled to continue its examination for discovery based on the new material, whether or not it was produced in accordance with a request left on the record.
[17]         If this was an application for a second examination for discovery I would come to a similar conclusion.
[18]         On a review of the listing of documents produced by the plaintiff since her examination for discovery as set out in the defendant’s notice of application, it is clear that many are documents that could prove or disprove a material fact and that they were in existence prior to her examination for discovery and as such required to be produced under rules 7-1(1) and 7-1(9).
[19]         The defendant submits that is sufficient to constitute a failure to make full and frank disclosure as contemplated in Sutherland v. Lucas and is such as to warrant a second discovery.
[20]         I agree. In my view it does not behoove a party to fail to make complete document disclosure prior to an examination for discovery and then to take the position that the examination cannot be continued when proper disclosure is made.
[21]         Thus, in the circumstances of this case I am satisfied that the defendant did not conclude its discovery and thus the heavy onus referred to in Sutherland v. Lucas does not apply. The defendant is entitled to continue its examination for discovery on the new matters, but is not entitled to examine on matters covered on the first day of examination for discovery.

"Overly-Frequent Interventions, Inappropriate Objections, and an Under-Prepared Witness" Leads To Further Discovery

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, ordering a further examination for discovery of a party due to “overly-frequent interventions, inappropriate objections, and an under-prepared witness“.
In this week’s case (CP v. RBC Life Insurance Company) the Plaintiff was suing for disability insurance coverage she had in place with the Defendant.  In the course of the lawsuit the plaintiff examined a representative of the Defendant and the discovery was “at times disruptive, or event fractious“.  The Plaintiff adjourned the discovery before using her full 7 hours.  The Plaintiff sought an order allowing her to reschedule the examination and seeking to exceed the 7 hour cap.  In finding this was appropriate Master Baker provided the following sensible comments addressing the conduct of discoveries under the new rules of court:
[14]         Ms. Hayman adjourned in part due, she says, to the frequent interruptions and interventions by Ms. Carmichael. She argues that many of the interruptions were in and of themselves improper and that, for example, questions that were objected to should be answered by court direction. But perhaps more concerning to Ms. Hayman is that, she says, it was practically impossible to establish “a flow” to the examination which is, after all, in the nature of a cross-examination.
[15]         I have reviewed the 170 pages of the transcript of the two examination intervals. There are comments, objections, interventions, questions, or the like by Ms. Carmichael on 116 of the pages. It must be said that many are typical of an examination and benign; advice to Ms. Edizel, for example, to speak up, or confirmation to Ms. Hayman that the defense does have the proffered document. But the sheer number of recorded comments and interventions lend support to Ms. Hayman’s submission…
[18]         I worry that there is a trend to more oppositional examinations for discovery and that more and more will, inevitably, result in applications such as this. While the court is always available to apply the Rules of Court and decide on procedural issues, the process for examinations for discovery never intended this level of supervision. I agree with N. Smith J. that the court should generally discourage a question by question approach that, essentially, subsidizes counsel’s fundamental duty to conduct an appropriate discovery, on the one hand, or to permit one (including its broad and wide-ranging nature, often), on the other.
[19]         Rule 7-2(1)(a) inevitably increases the responsibilities in that regard. With a seven-hour limitation, examining counsel is obviously required to be efficient, focussed, and effective in conducting his or her examination. Opposing counsel, on the other hand, is obliged to restrict his or her objections and not consume that valuable time with unnecessary objections or interventions. Quite the contrary: if one thinks strategically, why not allow one’s opponent to use the examining time with irrelevant or non-productive questions? Tedious as they may seem, they would offer an excellent response to any application for increased examination time.
[20]         But that choice would be entirely left to the examinee’s counsel. In the main, it is for him or her to avoid intruding on the examiner’s time unless clearly justified.
[21]         There is a parallel obligation on the actual examinee; with the restriction on examination time comes a heightened responsibility to inform oneself in advance of the examination, so that the time can be used fruitfully and the discovery process serve its purpose. In this case Ms. Edizel had a particularly clear obligation in that regard. She was not the case manager or supervisor during the operative times of C.P.’s claim management; both of those individuals, as I’ve said, have left RBC. It was therefore incumbent on Ms. Edizel to redouble her efforts to examine the file and its history and to inform herself as much as possible. Both Ms. Wadhwani and Ms. Rhodes were apparently unwilling to talk to anyone about C.P.’s claim. The best source of information (other than the file entries themselves, one supposes) were therefore denied Ms. Edizel. I can understand, then, her inability to answer some (perhaps many) questions, but on the whole I am not satisfied that she met her obligation to inform herself as much as reasonably possible in advance of her examination. As a consequence, Rule 7-2(22) applies:
In order to comply with subrule (18) or (19), a person being examined for discovery may be required to inform himself or herself and the examination may be adjourned for that purpose.
[22]         The combination, then, of overly-frequent interventions, inappropriate objections, and an under-prepared witness requires that Ms. Edizel be further examined. I will not restrict that examination to outstanding requests. Moreover, her attendance for further examination in British Columbia will be at the expense of the defendant (subject, obviously, to any future rulings on costs). Ms. Hayman will be permitted a further four hours for examination as requested.

Translator's "Poor Performance" Gives Way to Further Examination for Discovery

The current BC Supreme Court Rules cap examinations for discovery in a conventional prosecution at 7 hours unless the Court otherwise orders.   Reasons for judgement were released recently by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, addressing one circumstance when prolonging this cap was appropriate.
In the recent case (Dhami v. Bath) the Plaintiff attended 8 hours of discovery.  A translator was used who “did a poor job“.  The Court exercised its discretion to allow a further 2 hours of discovery and in doing so provided the following reasons:
[5]             This application must be determined on the evidence before the court. The only evidence with respect to the examination itself are the excerpts revealing the translator’s poor performance which objectively interfered with counsel’s ability to conduct the examination in an efficient manner. Put another way, I find that the translator’s conduct made it reasonably impractical to complete the examination for discovery in the time spent to date.
[6]             I am not persuaded that the examination of the plaintiff was concluded such that the defendant must meet the heavy onus suggested in Hogg v. Hansen, 2007 BCSC 958, for a second examination. The additional two hours is allowed to the defendant to complete the one and only examination.

"Silence Does Not Mean Consent" – Examination for Discovery Caselaw Update


 
Adding to this site’s archived caselaw addressing examination for discovery, useful reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, making the following points:
1. silence (or even agreement) to a discovery request does not compel a party to comply with it
2. the court has no power to order that answers to questions outstadning at an examination for discovery be put in writing
3.  the narrower scope for document production requirements is not circumvented simply by asking for production of documents at an examination for discovery
In this week’s case (LaPrarie Crane (Alberta) Ltd. v. Triton Projects Inc.)Master Bouck provided the following reasons addressing these points:
[32]         As for the outstanding requests from the examinations, Triton submits that  when there is no objection to production on the record — or indeed, where a positive response from the examinee is made — such requests must be answered : Winkler v. Lower Mainland Publishing Ltd., 2002 BCSC 40 at para. 17. In other words, the party being examined is not able to reflect upon requests unless counsel states on the record that the request will be taken under advisement or an objection is raised. Nor can a party have a change of mind upon reflection, or upon taking legal advice.
[33]         The principle that a party should not be permitted to subsequently revoke agreements made at an examination for discovery is laudable. However, silence does not mean consent: Gellen v. British Columbia (Public Guardian and Trustee of), 2005 BCSC 1615 at para. 17 (S.C.). Furthermore, it is difficult to see how the principle enunciated in Winkler can be applied after the introduction of time limited examinations for discovery: Rule 7-2 (2).
[34]         If counsel is expected to pause and consider the relevancy of every question asked of the witness, the time allotted for a party’s examination might well be consumed by objections, interventions and even argument. In recent decisions, the court has strongly discourage such intervention at examinations for discovery: see More Marine Ltd. v. Shearwater Marine Ltd., 2011 BCSC 166 at para. 13 foll’g Kendall v. Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada, 2010 BCSC 1556 at para. 18. Given this change in procedure, I decline to follow Winkler.
[35]         If a person declines to provide the additional information requested, the examining party is not without a remedy: Rules 7-2 (22)-(24). This appears to be the remedy pursued on this application. Nonetheless, the court has no power to order that answers to questions outstanding at an examination for discovery be put in writing: Diachem Industries Ltd. v. Buckman (1994), 91 B.C.L.R. (2D) 312 at p. 314 (S.C.) [my emphasis].
[36]         Finally, it is acknowledged that under the SCCR, the duty to answer questions at an examination is broader than the duty to produce documents: More Marine Ltd. v. Shearwater Marine Ltd., supra, at para. 7. However, a party does not get around the application of Kaladjian v. Jose principles by asking for the documents at these examinations: Maxam Opportunities Fund (International) Ltd. Partnership v. 893353 Alberta Inc., 2012 BCSC 553.
 

ICBC Claims and Proper Objections to Examination For Discovery Questions

In one of the more in-depth judicial discussions of examinations for discovery in the context of a personal injury claims, reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing the scope of proper objections at a Plaintiff’s examination.
In today’s case (Nwachukwu v. Ferreira) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2006 collision.  In the course of the lawsuit the Plaintiff attended three examinations for discovery.  The Plaintiff’s lawyer raised numerous objections during these and the discoveries were ultimately cut short.  The Defendant brought an application directing the Plaintiff to answer the questions which were objected to and further for permission to conduct a lengthier examination for discovery pursuant to Rule 7-2(2).
Mr. Justice Willcock granted the application finding there was “significant obstruction” at the previous discoveries.  In doing so the Court provided the following helpful comments about the scope of discovery and of common objections:

[32] The scope of examination for discovery has recently been canvassed by this court in Kendall v. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, 2010 BCSC 1556; More Marine Ltd. v. Shearwater Marine Ltd., 2011 BCSC 166; and Day v. Hume, 2009 BCSC 587.  In those cases, the court reiterated the following principles:  the language of Rule 7-2(18) is identical to the former Rule 27(22) and the scope of examination for discovery has remained unchanged and is very broad.  Rigid limitations rigidly applied can destroy the right to a proper examination for discovery.  Useful or effective cross-examination would be impossible if counsel could only ask such questions as plainly revealed their purpose.  An examination for discovery is in the nature of cross-examination.  Counsel for the party being examined should not interfere except where it is clearly necessary to resolve ambiguity in a question or to prevent injustice.

[33] The time limit established by Rule 7-2(2) creates a greater obligation on counsel for the party being examined to avoid unduly objecting or interfering in a way that wastes the time available.  A largely hands-off approach to examinations for discovery, except in the clearest of circumstances, is in accord with the object of the Rules of Court, particularly the newly stated object of proportionality.  Allowing wide-ranging cross-examination on examination for discovery is far more cost effective than a practice that encourages objections which will undoubtedly result in subsequent chambers applications to require judges or masters to rule on the objections.  It is far more efficient for counsel for the examinee to raise objections to the admissibility of evidence at trial rather than on examination for discovery.  Where intervention is appropriate, the proper conduct of counsel is to state the objection to the form of a question and the reasons for the objection, but it is not appropriate to make comments, suggestions or criticism.

Applicable Law

[34] Many of the specific objections in issue are addressed in an article by John Shields and Howard Shapray published in The Advocate, Vol. 68, pt. 5 (September 2010) at page 671, referred to by Mr. Markham-Zantvoort in argument.

(a) Relevance

[35] Counsel objects to many questions on the grounds that they are not relevant.  In addressing these objections, I proceed from the proposition that counsel should have broad discretion to frame appropriate questions for the examination of the plaintiff, respecting the principles described in the cases to which I have referred.

(b) Confusion

[36] Counsel objects to many questions on the grounds that he finds them confusing.  In Cominco Ltd. v. Westinghouse Canada Limited (1979), 11 B.C.L.R. 142 (C.A.), the Court of Appeal at para. 19 held:

If a question is difficult to answer, the witness can say so and can be cross-examined about the difficulty. It is for the witness, not counsel, to deal with that.  Difficulty in answering does not exclude a whole area. It excludes specific questions.  No area of fact is closed on the ground that to enter it would “open the floodgates”.

(c) Repetition

[37] Counsel objects to questions he considers repetitive.  As Shields and Shapray note, “asked and answered” is not an appropriate objection in Canada.  Madam Justice Boyd in Rec Holdings Co. v. Peat Marwick Thorne Holdings, [1995] B.C.J. No. 1964 (S.C.), held at para. 9:

It is trite law that an examination for discovery is in the nature of a cross-examination.  While there will be situations in which repeating the same allowable question over and over on cross-examination may amount to intimidation, the Court must be slow to interfere where that tactic is used relatively sparingly and particularly in circumstances in which there are good grounds for the cross-examiner’s belief the witness may be falsifying his evidence.

(d) Inadequate Foundation

[38] Shields and Shapray say there is no requirement that a foundation be laid for a question.  In Cominco, the court noted at para. 632:

The objection is that no foundation was laid for the questions.  That suggestion does not appear to have been made at the time and I think that, if one objects, one should say why.  Presuming that this objection can now be made, I merely say that I know of no requirement that a foundation be laid.  None was cited to us.  Those questions should have been answered by the witness without interruption by counsel.

(e) Compound Questions

[39] Counsel routinely objected to questions that he considered to be compounded questions.  Shields and Shapray say, properly in my view, that objection to the form of question should be used sparingly.

(f) Privelege

[40] Counsel objected, at the most recent examination, when the plaintiff was asked what he alleges or says in relation to the claim.  The plaintiff cannot be asked what counsel told him about his claim or how the case will be framed at trial.  He may not be asked how much he will say he has lost, if the answer requires disclosure of an opinion obtained by the solicitor.  Question 1152 on the examination for discovery seems to seek such information.

[41] The witness cannot be asked to disclose how the facts having assembled, weighed or analysed by counsel.  That is what was offensive in the general requests considered by the court inTriathlon Ltd. v. Kirkpatrick, 2006 BCSC 890.  The questions asked in that case were held to offend the description of the privilege afforded to the solicitor’s brief in Hodgkinson v. Simms(1988), 33 B.C.L.R. (2d) 129 (C.A.).  It was the manner of getting at the work product by asking what facts had been assembled by counsel or what facts would be relied upon, rather than by asking about specific facts, that was objectionable.  The manner in which facts have been marshalled is a question going to trial strategy.  It is for that reason that I expect that counsel have included in the book of authorities Blue Line Hockey Acquisition Co., Inc. v. Orca Bay Hockey Limited Partnership, 2007 BCSC 143, although no express reference was made to it in oral submissions.  In that case, questions were held to be objectionable because of what was being sought: conclusions reached by counsel, rather than the evidence of the witness.

[42] Questions that intrude upon privilege are generally objectionable.  That is expressly reflected in Rule 7-2(18).  Care should be taken to protect the solicitor/client relationship.

7 Hour Examination For Discovery Cap Does Not Permit Discovery Splitting


Important reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, further clarifying the examination for discovery limit in the new Rules of Court.  In short the Court held that notwithstanding the time limit, generally only one examination for discovery is permitted.
In today’s case (Humphrey v. McDonald) the Plaintiff alleged injury following a collision.  In the course of the lawsuit the Plaintiff attended an examination for discovery.  It did not exceed the 7 hour cap set out in Rule 7-2(2).  Defence counsel brought an application seeking further discovery.  The Plaintiff opposed.  Madam Justice Gray dismissed the application finding that generally only one discovery is permitted.  The Court provided the following useful reasons:

[8] Defence counsel responds that it is implied that examinations should not be scheduled if it was abusive, but apart from that, a party can schedule multiple examinations for up to seven hours in total.

[9] In my view, the use of the plural “examinations for discovery” has to be read in the context of the entire sub-rule. It makes reference to examinations under other sub-rules, which relate to re-examination in subsection (17), in subsection (22) to informing himself or herself and it being adjourned for that purpose, and subsection (24) continuing an examination for discovery following receiving a letter.

[10] In my view, the sub-rule does not suggest that there should be more than one examination for discovery of a party. A party should be able to know whether they are finished with examinations for discovery or whether more are pending.

[11] I do not accept the interpretation of the sub-rule advanced by defence counsel. Since defence counsel has effectively conceded that it has had one examination for discovery of the plaintiff, the defence application to have a further examination for discovery of the plaintiff is dismissed.

The Examination For Discovery Time Limit: When Multiple Cases are Tried Together


Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, addressing the time limit for examinations for discovery when two actions are set for trial at the same time.  In short the Court held that the Rules permit up to 14 hours of Plaintiff examination in these circumstances without the need for a Court Order.
In last week’s case (Campbell v. McDougall) the Plaintiff was involved in two separate motor vehicle collisions.  She sued for damages in both actions.  In the course of the lawsuit the Plaintiff was examined for discovery which was discontinued after 3.5 hours due to the Plaintiff’s fatigue.  The discovery was reset and continued for a full day for a total of 10.5 hours of examination.
The Defendant wished to have 2.5 further hours of examination.    The Plaintiff opposed and a Court application was brought.  It appears the the parties worked out many of their differences prior to the hearing of the application but ultimately the Court ordered that the Plaintiff attend a further 2.5 hours.
In doing so Master Bouck provided the following comments with respect to the discovery ‘cap’ of 7 hours set out in Rule 7-2(2):





[32] In the end, the plaintiff could be required to undergo up to 14 hours of an examination under Rule 7-2 without the defence having to obtain leave of the court.

[33] In this case, the defence has chosen to have one counsel conduct an examination, but effectively with respect to both actions.

[34] There is a sound basis for requesting the “additional” examination time, particularly with respect to the plaintiff’s new employment status. While it seems unlikely that the court would grant leave to exceed the specified hour allotment simply when some new information comes to light, the plaintiff’s earning abilities and capacity forms a significant part of the overall claim. A very large monetary amount for that loss will probably be advanced. An additional 2½ hours (and still less than the allowable 14 hours) examination time is not out of proportion to the amount involved in this proceeding.





Scope of Discovery Under the New Rules of Court


Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing the scope of both discovery of documents and examinations for discovery under the new Rules of Court.
In today’s case (More Marine Ltd. v. Shearwater Marine Ltd) the Plaintiff companies sued the Defendant alleging the breach of marine insurance policies.  The Plaintiff was self represented.  He examined an insurance adjuster that worked for the Defendant.  At discovery the Defendant raised numerous objections including an objection to questions addressing “general practices in the insurance industry“.  A motion was brought seeking guidance addressing whether these questions were permissible.
Mr. Justice Smith held that this line of questioning was appropriate and ordered that a further discovery take place.  In doing so the Court provided perhaps the most extensive judicial feedback to date about the changes with respect to discovery obligations under the New Rules of Court.  Mr. Justice Smith gave the following useful reasons:

[3]             The scope of proper questioning on an examination for discovery is set out in Rule 7-2 (18) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules, B.C. Reg. 168/2009 [Rules]:

Unless the court otherwise orders, a person being examined for discovery

(a)        must answer any question within his or her knowledge or means of knowledge regarding any matter, not privileged, relating to a matter in question in the action, and

(b)        is compellable to give the names and addresses of all persons who reasonably might be expected to have knowledge relating to any matter in question in the action.

[4]             The new Rules came into effect on July 1, 2010, but the language in rule 7-2 (18) is identical to the former rule 27 (22).  As Griffin J. said in Kendall v. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, 2010 BCSC 1556 [Kendall] at para. 7 “the scope of examination for discovery has remained unchanged and is very broad.”  In Cominco Ltd. v. Westinghouse Can Ltd. (1979), 11 B.C.L.R. 142 (C.A.) [Cominco], an early and leading case under the former rule, the Court of Appeal said at 151 that “rigid limitations rigidly applied can destroy the right to a proper examination for discovery.”  The court in Cominco also adopted the following statement from Hopper v. Dunsmuir No. 2 (1903), 10 B.C.R. 23 (C.A.) at 29:

It is also obvious that useful or effective cross-examination would be impossible if counsel could only ask such questions as plainly revealed their purpose, and it is needless to labour the proposition that in many cases much preliminary skirmishing is necessary to make possible a successful assault upon the citadel, especially where the adversary is the chief repository of the information required.

[5]             In Day v. Hume, 2009 BCSC 587 this court said at para. 20:

The principles emerging from the authorities are clear. An examination for discovery is in the nature of cross-examination and counsel for the party being examined should not interfere except where it is clearly necessary to resolve ambiguity in a question or to prevent injustice.

[6]               While Rule 7-2 (18) is the same as its predecessor, the new Rules create a distinction that did not previously exist between oral examination for discovery and discovery of documents.  The former rule 26 (1) required a party to list all documents “relating to every matter in question in the action.”  Although disclosure in those terms may still be ordered by the court under Rule 7-1 (14), the initial disclosure obligation is set out more narrowly in Rule 7-1(1):

(1)        Unless all parties of record consent or the court otherwise orders, each party of record to an action must, within 35 days after the end of the pleading period,

(a)        prepare a list of documents in Form 22 that lists

(i)         all documents that are or have been in the party’s possession or control and that could, if available, be used by any party of record at trial to prove or disprove a material fact, and

(ii)        all other documents to which the party intends to refer at trial, and

(b)        serve the list on all parties of record.

[7]             Under the former rules, the duty to disclose documents and the duty to answer questions on oral examination were therefore controlled by the same test for relevance.  Under the newRules, different tests apply, with the duty to answer questions on discovery being apparently broader than the duty to disclose documents.

[8]             Although that may appear to be an anomaly, there are at least two good reasons for the difference.  One reason is that if the court is to be persuaded that the broader document discovery made possible by rule 7-1(14) is appropriate in a particular case, some evidence of the existence and potential relevance of those additional documents will be required.  The examination for discovery is the most likely source of such evidence.

[9]             The second reason relates to the introduction of proportionality as a governing concept in the new Rules.  Rule 1-3 (2) states:

(2)        Securing the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of a proceeding on its merits includes, so far as is practicable, conducting the proceeding in ways that are proportionate to

(a)        the amount involved in the proceeding,

(b)        the importance of the issues in dispute, and

(c)        the complexity of the proceeding.

[10]         The  former rule governing discovery of documents was interpreted according to the long-established test in Compagnie Financière du Pacifique v. Peruvian Guano Company (1882), 11 Q.B.D. 55 at 63 (C.A.):

It seems to me that every document relates to the matters in question in the action, which not only would be evidence upon any issue, but also which, it is reasonable to suppose, contains information which may — not which must — either directly or indirectly enable the party … either to advance his own case or to damage the case of his adversary. I have put in the words “either directly or indirectly,” because, as it seems to me, a document can properly be said to contain information which may enable the party … either to advance his own case or to damage the case of his adversary, if it is a document which may fairly lead him to a train of inquiry, which may have either of these two consequences…

[11]         The new Rules recognize that application of a 19th century test to the vast quantity of paper and electronic documents produced and stored by 21st century technology had made document discovery an unduly onerous and costly task in many cases.  Some reasonable limitations had become necessary and Rule 7-1 (1) is intended to provide them.

[12]         The new Rules also impose limitations on oral examination for discovery, but do so through a different mechanism.  Rule 7-2 (2) now limits an examination for discovery to seven hours or to any longer period to which the person being examined consents.  Although the test for relevance of a particular question or group of questions remains very broad, examining parties who ask too many questions about marginally relevant matters, who spend too much time pursuing unproductive trains of inquiry or who elicit too much evidence that will not be admissible at trial risk leaving themselves with insufficient time for obtaining more important evidence and admissions.

[13]          As Griffin J. said in Kendall, the time limit imposes a “self-policing incentive” on the party conducting the examination: at para. 14.  At the same time, the existence of the time limit creates a greater obligation on counsel for the party being examined to avoid unduly objecting or interfering in a way that wastes the time available. This interplay was described in Kendall at para. 18:

A largely “hands off” approach to examinations for discovery, except in the clearest of circumstances, is in accord with the object of the Rules of Court, particularly the newly stated object of proportionality, effective July 1, 2010.  Allowing wide-ranging cross-examination on examination for discovery is far more cost-effective than a practice that encourages objections, which will undoubtedly result in subsequent chambers applications to require judges or masters to rule on the objections.  It is far more efficient for counsel for the examinee to raise objections to the admissibility of evidence at trial, rather than on examination for discovery.

Examination For Discovery and Continuations – A "Heavy Onus"


One of the welcome developments in the New BC Supreme Court Rules is a cap on the length of examinations for discovery.   Examinations in conventional lawsuits are capped at 7 hours under Rule 7-2(a) and limited to 2 hours in Fast Track trials.  The Court has a general power to permit lengthier examinations in appropriate circumstances.
When parties conclude an examination for discovery there are typically requests for further information and parties usually agree to a follow up discovery to address matters arising from the further disclosure.  When a party wishes to further explore a topic already covered, however, they are usually not permitted to have a continuation of the discovery.  Reasons for judgement were released today addressing this area of law.
In today’s case (Lewis v Lewis) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2005 motor vehicle collision.  The Plaintiff alleged injury.  The Defendant denied that she was injured and alleged that her injuries were pre-existing.  In the course of the lawsuit the Plaintiff provided various medical records including pre-accident records.
The Plaintiff attended a discovery and was examined with respect to her injury claim.   After concluding the discovery the Defendants requested a continuation to further explore the issue of the Plaintiff’s pre-accident health.  The Plaintiff opposed arguing that she had already been examined with respect to this topic.  Mr. Justice Harvey agreed with the Plaintiff and dismissed the application for a further discovery.  In doing so the Court provided the following useful reasons:

[8]             The case law stands for the proposition that where a further examination for discovery is sought, there is a heavy onus on the applicant to justify that further examination, and that to justify same they must demonstrate that the complexion of the case has materially changed as a result of the passage of time, new heads of damage are being advanced, or intervening events having occurred since the last discovery, which would materially alter the prosecution of the case and the defence of it.

[9]             Alternatively, a party could produce evidence to show that full and frank disclosure was not made at the first discovery.

[10]         Here that is not the case. Here the defendant, together with its medical advisor, failed to see what was there to be seen. Specifically, each failed to note and act upon the references to previous shoulder complaints in clinical records that were in the hands of both the medical practitioner and the solicitor conducting the discovery.  I am not satisfied that the heavy onus that is set forth in the decisions I have been referred to, one of which was Sutherland (Public Trustee of) v. Lucas, has been met.

[11]         Accordingly the application for a further discovery by the defendant is dismissed.

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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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