It is my experience as a lawyer representing car accident victims that ICBC and other insurance companies regularly deny all the facts alleged by an injury claimant in a lawsuit with little or no explanation. This type of response to a civil claim appears to no longer suffice as adequate pleadings in British Columbia. In fact the risk to such a pleader now will not simply be to limit the party’s evidence at trial but they will run the risk of having the response to civil claim being struck, as in the following case.
In Royal Bank of Canada v. Pisani, 2014 BCSC 761 the Plaintiff applied successfully for an order striking the Response to Civil Claim filed by the defendant as non-compliant with the Rules of Court. Specifically, the court relied on Rule 9-5 and 3-3(2) and stated at paragraph 9,
What the defendant had done was to issue a general denial or a general traverse of the facts alleged in the statement of claim. Mr. Justice Smith reviewed the history of pleadings from the defence perspective. He distinguished, for example, between demurrers and pleas. He further distinguished dilatory pleas and peremptory pleas. He further parsed peremptory pleas to traverses, confessions and avoidance, and estoppels. A traverse was effected when the party simply issued a general denial. A confession and avoidance consisted of an admission of some or all of the plaintiff’s facts, together with the defendant’s version of the facts (or new facts) that would contradict or undermine the plaintiff’s facts. For our purposes here I needn’t address estoppel.
Before the significant changes to the BC Civil Rules in 2010 it was enough that the defendant simply denied the plaintiff’s version of facts and require that the facts be proven. That has now all changed with Rule 3-3(2). “The new Rule effectively requires that a defendant respond by way of confession and avoidance. A simple or basic denial of the facts alleged by the plaintiff will no longer suffice as adequate pleading.” Such a pleader will run the risk of have the response to civil claim struck, as the response was struck in this case. The clear intention of the new Rule is to require parties like ICBC and other insurance companies to address the points of substance and not just file blanket denials.
Posted by Vancouver Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.