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Infant Plaintiff Awarded Legal Costs to Promote Proportionate & Efficient Use of Resources

Simpson, Thomas & Associates lawyer, Stephen Yung, successfully argued for payment of legal costs for an infant client awarded a total of $18,400 at trial.

Under the Supreme Court Civil Rules a successful party can be denied legal costs if there were not “sufficient reasons” for bringing the proceedings in the Supreme Court at the time the action was started. The alternative for litigants is to bring their lawsuit in the Provincial Court, where legal costs are not allowed. ICBC has made a point of routinely challenging entitlement to legal costs in cases where less than $25,000 is awarded in damages, despite the fact that the Court of Appeal has made it clear that the amount of the damages award does not exclusively determine a successful party’s entitlement to their legal costs.

In Mehta v. Douglas, 2011 BCSC 714, Mr. Justice Harris held that, in light of the recent Court of Appeal decisions on this issue, costs could be awarded to the plaintiff: firstly, because the procedures available in the Supreme Court (including discovery and summary trial) “promote a proportionate and efficient use of [court] resources” and, secondly, because the exact value of the claim “could not be predicted accurately” at the time the action was started. With respect to the second point, emphasis was placed on the fact that that the plaintiff was an infant. On this point the judge accepted that it is “appropriate to be cautious in assessing what could reasonably be predicted as the quantum for a damages claim when the action is started, particularly in the case of an infant” due to the attendant “uncertainties” of dealing with an infant’s personal injuries.

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