16 Nov Adding Third Parties to a Legal Action

If you think another party might be wholly or partially responsible for your motor vehicle accident, there are ways to have them added to the legal action as a Third Party.  You do this by filing a Third Party Notice. If you file a Third Party Notice more than 42 days after being served with the Notice of Civil Claim, you will need to apply to the court for permission to add the Third Party to the legal proceedings.

In Mills v. Martineau, 2015 BCSC 658, the Plaintiff lost control of his vehicle and slid into a ditch. A tow truck driver pulled the Plaintiff’s vehicle out of the ditch. The tow truck driver did not place cones on the road to warn approaching drivers and the Defendant’s vehicle struck the Plaintiff’s vehicle, causing injury to the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff brought an action against the Defendant driver.

The Defendant applied to have the tow truck driver and towing company added as Third Parties, arguing that they contributed to the accident and therefore should be brought into the legal action. The Defendants did not file their Third Party Notice within 42 days so leave of the court was required.

The Plaintiff opposed the application on the basis that it was brought too late and that the addition of Third Parties would delay the trial.

In these applications, the court must weigh competing injustices and inconveniences.  The court has to decide whether greater injustice and inconvenience would arise from allowing the Third Party Notice or from leaving the Third Party claim to be pursued in a separate future action.

The Defendant in Mills v. Martineau argued that it was more convenient to add the Third Parties in the present action rather than having to bring a separate action for indemnity against them later on. The Defendant further argued that no prejudice or delay would be caused to the Plaintiff if an order adding the tow truck driver and company was made.

Master Harper agreed with the Defendants and granted them leave to file a Third Party Notice.  She decided that the factors in favour of making the order outweighed the factors against because:

  1. The claims against the proposed Third Parties were not bound to fail;
  2. There was no prejudice to the Plaintiff because the trial date would be preserved;
  3. It would be more convenient for all inter-related issues to be tried and determined at the same time rather than having the Third Party claims pursued in a future proceeding.

The legal arguments can be complex and can have far reaching implications in Third Party notice applications. At Acheson Whitley Sweeney Foley, you can be assured that we have the expertise to handle these matters and will keep your best interests in mind.