22 Apr Double Costs
Prior to trial, the Plaintiff and Defendant normally exchange settlement offers as part of the negotiation process…and the Court rules encourage early settlement. If the matter proceeds to trial, under the Court rules the successful party is typically entitled to 10 units at $110/unit, plus tax, for each day of trial ($1,232/day). In addition, the successful party usually receives 5 units for preparing for the trial at $110/unit, plus tax, for each day of trial ($616/day).
If a plaintiff is awarded more at trial than what they offered to settle for before trial, the Court can award them double costs. Double costs reward the party making a reasonable settlement offer and penalize the party who rejects the reasonable offer. Double costs means just that – the party that rejects the reasonable offer pays double the costs they would normally pay.
This situation arose in Sebaa v. Ricci, 2016 BCSC 622, in which the Plaintiff offered to settle her case for $345,000. At trial, the Court awarded her $509,780.88 (net), $165,000 more than what she offered to settle for.
The Court thought that the Defendant ought to have accepted the Plaintiff’s reasonable offer. The Court also noted that the Plaintiff was reluctant to proceed to trial for several reasons. She and her husband had moved to Qatar. In addition, she was a very private person who avoided discussing personal matters and it was an emotionally difficult process for her to recall her experience.
ICBC argued that its medical evidence and the Plaintiff’s Examination for Discovery evidence were inconsistent with her claims at trial. ICBC also argued it did not have recent evidence because the Plaintiff refused to attend another Examination for Discovery shortly before the trial. The Court rejected these arguments. The Court noted that the Plaintiff’s lawyer had provided a detailed settlement proposal to ICBC and ICBC had not applied to compel the Plaintiff to attend a subsequent Examination for Discovery. Overall, the Court considered the Plaintiff’s offer was reasonably capable of acceptance.
The Court awarded double costs to the Plaintiff for the eight day trial. Costs for an eight day trial would normally amount to $14,784, so double costs was a significant penalty for the Defendant to pay.
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