Unless you work in the civil justice system or have recently accessed the Courts to resolve a civil dispute it may come as a surprise to learn that usually a verdict is not rendered by a trial judge until some time after the close of the case. So how long does it take? Other than giving the unsatisfactory answer of “it varies” I’ve never had any concrete data to point to in addressing this question until now.
The latest issue of the Trial Lawyer’s Association of BC’s magazine “the Verdict” (Issue # 130) sheds some light on this topic with hard data.
Two BC lawyers (Thomas Harding and Derek Miura) spent some time analyzing information obtained from ICBC through Freedom of Information requests. With this information in hand they authored an article addressing the commonly held belief that judge alone trials are less costly and time consuming than trial by jury. Interestingly their study concludes that the opposite of this appears to be true when factoring in the time and cost associated with reserved reasons for judgement.
Their statistical analysis shows how long it takes judgement to be delivered after the average Judge alone ICBC trial in BC Supreme Court. The answer is a ratio of 29 days for every day of hearing. In other words, on average a one day trial would have judgement pronounced 29 days after trial. A 5 day trial would take 5 times longer (145 days) and the average 10 day trial would take 290 days for judgement.
In addition to shedding light on this topic, the recent installment of the Verdict is worth reviewing in full for its in-depth analysis of the current state of the law relating to civil jury trials in BC. It is available free on-line for TLABC members and can be subscribed to by the public at large for a fee.