The personal injury award following a 25 day trial in this ICBC gets double costs case(Minhas v. Sartor,2014 BCSC 47) was $76,653.00, much less than the $3 million sought by the claimant and the $275,000 offered by ICBC before trial. The judge, in one of the first times in BC legal history, has awarded ICBC double costs despite ICBC admitting liability and the case having not been dismissed. Read my review of the original case, Minhas v. Sartor, 2012 BCSC 779, to get the background.
What really convinced the judge to award double costs to ICBC was the deceitful behaviour of the claimant. The injury claimant, “demonstrated at trial that he was both an unreliable and dishonest witness; that he was not only careless with the truth, but also told deliberate lies…[the claimant] asked a former supervisor to provide false information to ICBC about the hourly wage [he] had been earning prior to the accident.”
Despite the judge taking into account the fact that the defendant has had the benefit of counsel provided by ICBC and will not personally bear the burden or enjoy the benefit of any costs award he did not conclude that ICBC used its financial strength to take any unfair advantage. The fact is that the claimant knew that in addition to inconsistent reports to doctors and other health care providers, the claimant had given inconsistent testimony during the several installments of his examination for discovery.
The rationale to awarding double costs to ICBC was not fully explained however in the case. When an injury claimant is denied costs that is essentially an award of costs against the claimant. Then the award costs to the other side would amount to double costs being incurred by the claimant. To then award double costs to the defendant, in this case insured by ICBC, would amount to the claimant paying triple costs. Read my review of Gulbrandsen v. Mohr,2013 BCSC 1481, and I note that neither this case nor Currie v. Mckinnon appeared to have been considered.
I would be surprised if this costs case is not appealed. Although the claimant clearly ought to have accepted the offer made by ICBC before the trial I am not sure the Court of Appeal will uphold the heavy handed award on costs.
Posted by Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.