In the first case I have seen addressing this issue, reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, striking out language in correspondence between lawyers as an abuse of process.
In today’s case (Walker v. Doe) the Plaintiff objected via letter sent to Defence counsel to the admissibility of Defense expert reports, and as part of the “boilerplate” objections Plaintiff’s counsel noted that “we shall seek sanctions personally against [expert’s name], including but not limited to special costs“.
In finding that the Rules of Court allow a Judge to strike out language in such a letter Mr. Justice Butler reasoned as follows:
 Letters sent by counsel to provide notice of objection to the admissibility of an expert report are required to be served pursuant to R. 11-6(10). The notice must set out “any objection to the admissibility of the expert’s evidence that the party receiving the report … intends to raise at trial.” The notice required by the Rule is a document mandated by the Rules in which a party must set out their position for trial.
 Rule 9-5(1) is not limited to pleadings but also applies to petitions and “other documents”. Document is defined in R. 1-1(1) in broad terms. There is no doubt the notice required under R. 11-6(10) is a document pursuant to that definition. However, the word must be interpreted ejusdem generis in the context of the phrase, “pleading, petition or other document”. Applying that aid to interpretation, I conclude that “other document” refers to documents which are required by the Rules to formally set out a party’s position, claim or defence. The notice under R. 11-6 (10) is such a document.
In finding the costs threat amounted to an abuse of process the Court provided the following reasons:
 In conclusion, expert witnesses play an important role in the litigation process. When an expert is properly qualified within an area of expertise and the expert’s opinion evidence, which is not otherwise excluded, meets the essential criteria of relevance and necessity in assisting the trier of fact, it can be admitted to assist the court: R. v. Mohan,  2 S.C.R. 9. The Rules establish a process which provides adequate notice of expert opinions and sets up a way to challenge admissibility. There is no need to introduce into the process, by way of boilerplate language in notices under R. 11-6(10), threats of claims against experts for special costs. As I have already noted, it is entirely unnecessary. Further, it has the potential to frustrate the litigation process because it may discourage the participation of expert witnesses. In addition, and contrary to the intent of the new Rules, it would seem to place the expert in an adversarial position.
Typically it is an abuse of process for an individual to plead guilty to criminal charges and to then deny liability in a subsequent civil lawsuit arising from the same incident. The BC Supreme Court Rules allow judges to strike pleadings denying previous admissions as an ‘abuse of process‘. Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Nelson Registry, demonstrating such a result.
In this week’s case (Plishka-Humphries (Guardian ad litem of) v. Bolen) the Plaintiff was assaulted and battered by the Defendant Bolen. The Defendant plead guilty to aggravated assault as a result of the incident. In a subsequent civil lawsuit the Defendant denied liability. The Plaintiff brought an application for summary judgement which was granted. In finding the Defendant civilly liable for the incident Mr. Justice McEwan provided the following reasons:
 The present case differs from Franco in that the defendant is not asserting a defence that parallels the position he took before the criminal court. In such circumstances a defendant’s position at least has the virtue of consistency. Here, the defendant seeks to give an exculpatory version of facts he has previously admitted…
 Here, however, at the sentencing proceeding, the defendant admitted the facts that the plaintiff alleges in the civil case. He now wishes to contradict those admissions. This is not a case of a careless plea, or a plea to a vague and uncertain set of facts. Nor is it a case where there was a lack of incentive to dispute a minor charge. It is also not a case of new evidence. There was no hint or suggestion of a threat from the plaintiff, at the sentencing proceeding, let alone facts that could be characterized as a form of self-defence. There was, rather, a submission that he was taking responsibility and acknowledging the harm he had done. In the context of that hearing it appears that this was offered as a kind of mitigation.
 The transcript also contradicts the defendant’s suggestion that he pled guilty on his lawyer’s advice and not because he considered himself guilty. He stood in court while his lawyer represented variously that he was “deeply remorseful”, “wants to plead guilty”, “wants to announce his guilt” … “recognizes this,” that “[h]is reaction was wrong” or that he wanted to save the young man from going to trial, and “have some lawyer probing on–about ball bearings.”
 The material the defendant has presented does not raise a genuine issue to be tried. The Certificate of Conviction tendered in this case is roughly equivalent to proof of a formal admission. There is nothing arising from the circumstances in which the guilty plea was entered that casts doubt upon the defendant’s intention at the time, or his appreciation of what he was doing. There is no ambiguity in the facts that he admitted. The explanation he offers for sitting through the hearing on September 21st, 2005 while the case was, from his present perspective, grossly mischaracterized, is thoroughly unconvincing…
 There will therefore be judgment for the plaintiff on the issue of liability and a referral to the trial list on the issue of quantum.
For more on this topic you can click here to review a recent case where a careless driving guilty plea was a barrier to a civil denial of liability following a motor vehicle collision.
Useful reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, finding that it is an ‘abuse of process‘ pursuant to Rule 9-5(1)(d) for a Defendant to deny the issue of liability in a personal injury lawsuit after they have been convicted of careless driving as a result of the same collision.
In this week’s case (Ulmer v. Weidmann) the Plaintiff’s husband was killed when his motorcycle was struck by a vehicle operated by the Defendant. The Plaintiff sued for damages pursuant to the Family Compensation Act.
Following the collision the Defendant was charged with “driving without due care and attention” under section 144(1)(a) of the BC Motor Vehicle Act. He contested this charge but ultimately was found guilty following trial in the BC Provincial Court.
The Defendant then denied fault for the crash in the Wrongful Death lawsuit and claimed the Plaintiff was partly responsible. Mr. Justice Truscott rejected this argument and found the Defendant solely responsible for the fatal collision. The Court went further and found that while a party convicted under s. 144(1)(a) of the Motor Vehicle Act can argue an opposing motorist is partly to blame for a crash, it is an abuse of process for the convicted party to outright deny the issue of fault. The Court provided the following useful reasons:
 In my opinion the finding of driving without due care and attention in Provincial Court was akin to a finding of negligence against Mr. Weidmann, because his manner of driving was found to have departed from the standard of a reasonable man and he failed to avoid liability by proving he took all reasonable care in the circumstances.
 I agree with plaintiff’s counsel that it was an abuse of process for the defendants to deny full liability in their statement of defence as this constituted an attempt to re-litigate the findings of the Provincial Court that were necessary for Steven Weidmann’s conviction of driving without due care and attention. This was an attempt to undermine the integrity of the adjudicative process which is not to be allowed.
 I do not conclude however that the findings essential to Mr. Weidmann’s conviction in Provincial Court prevented Mr. Weidmann from alleging contributory negligence against Mr. Ulmer in this action…
 While I have decided that there was no negligence on Mr. Ulmer contributing to the collision, based upon the evidence that I have accepted, I cannot say that this was a defence advanced in bad faith for the ulterior purpose of emotionally disturbing the plaintiff and putting pressure on her to settle at a figure favourable to the defendants.
 Although I have concluded that it was an abuse of process by the defendants to deny liability completely, they were not guilty of an abuse of process in maintaining the defence of contributory negligence of Mr. Ulmer at all times.
The Plaintiff was ultimately awarded damages for her accident related losses and these included $10,000 for ‘nervous shock’. Paragraphs 97-215 of the Reasons for Judgement are worth reviewing for Mr. Justice Truscott’s thorough review of the law of nervous shock claims.