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Tag: Walker v. Manufacturers Life Insurance Company

Court Has "Inherent Jurisdiction" To Order Party To Produce Medical Report Addressing Their "Capability"

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Court of Appeal confirming it is within the BC Supreme Court’s inherent jurisdiction for a judge to order a party to produce a medical report addressing whether that party is “capable or incapable of managing” their litigation.
Today’s case (Walker v. Manufacturers Life Insurance Company) the Plaintiff sued the Defendant alleging breach of contract.  The lawsuit had a complicated procedural history and in the course of an application a Chambers judge ordered that the lawsuit could not continue until the Plaintiff’s “doctor or psychiatrist write a report to the court and advise whether the Plaintiff is capable or incapable of managing this litigation”.
The Plaintiff appealed this order but the BC Court of Appeal upheld it finding it was in the inherent jurisdiction of the Judge to make such an order.  In reaching this conclusion the BC Court of Appeal provided the following reasons:

[34]        This, then, was the dilemma facing Weatherill J. when Ms. Walker argued that R. 20-2(14) applied to her as a “person under disability”. As I have said, he found that there was a real question as to whether she comes within this phrase. In my opinion, there is no doubt that this question had arisen and that it had to be answered before he could possibly accede to the contention made by Ms. Walker herself that a “step in default” could not have been taken against her. As Ms. Murray argued in her factum, it was entirely within the Court’s discretion to request the assistance of a current medical report addressing Ms. Walker’s capacity before the matter could proceed further. This step is required for the Court to protect its own process and thus comes within its inherent jurisdiction. Ms. Walker’s designation under the Act may be relevant, but is not determinative of the issue under Rule 20-2.

[35]        If it turns out that Ms. Walker is a “person under legal disability” within the meaning of the Rule, then a litigation guardian will have to be appointed under R. 20-2. The Rule is a “complete code” in the sense that it does not permit persons under legal disability to bring or defend proceedings in Supreme Court except through a litigation guardian.

[36]        It follows that I see no error in the chambers judge’s making the order he did.