The best accident lawyers in British Columbia need to be aware of the top civil rules of court. This court  application was brought by the injury claimant, after firing his lawyer,  for an order allowing him to withdraw admissions of fact(Piso v. Thompson) which occurred due to his prior lawyer’s failure to respond to a Notice to Admit delivered by ICBC.
The lawyer for ICBC faxed a series of letters to the injury claimant’s lawyer. Attached to one of those letters was a Notice to Admit which sought to have the claimant admit that he had been in a previous accident,  that his injuries resolved , that he suffered no past wage loss due to the accident and that he suffered no loss of capacity to earn income due to the accident.
 It was  clear to the court that the intent of the Notice to Admit was to seriously limit the injury claim almost seven years after the accident and less than a year before the scheduled trial date .
The injury claimant’s lawyer, upon receiving the Notice to Admit, put it in the file and forgot about it until he was served with notice of a summary trial application by ICBC seeking judgment on the basis of the deemed admissions.
 The injury claimant’s lawyer  simply dropped the ball as he  never sent the Notice to Admit to the claimant for his review. The claimant swore an affidavit stating that he never knew of the Notice but that had he, he would have admitted being in the accident but denied the other three assertions. As Master Caldwell pointed out:

[11]   The Notice to Admit is available in our Rule 7-7 to increase efficiency in the conduct of cases and to deal with matters that are not contentious and should be admitted. The rule in fact provides that a party’s failure to admit a fact or document which should be admitted may be punished in costs.

[12]    Silence on the part of the party receiving such a notice results in a deemed admission of the assertion or document contained in the Notice. Rule 7-7(5) provides that a party is not entitled to withdraw a deemed admission without leave of the court.

[13]  Both counsel are in basic agreement that the tests to be applied in applications such as this one are:

1.       Was the admission made inadvertently or hastily?

2.       Has there been a delay in bringing the application to withdraw the admission?

3.       Is there an issue worthy of being tried?…

 [20]        Rule 7-7 provides a mechanism to streamline and make more efficient the litigation process. It rewards efficiency and encourages a focus on issues which matter and which are truly in dispute. It provides penalties and disincentives for failure to admit that which should properly be admitted by way of cost sanctions. It certainly provides for much more extreme outcomes in appropriate circumstances but it also provides for judicial discretion in excusing or relieving from such extreme outcomes in appropriate circumstances.

[21]         In my respectful view Rule 7-7 does not, nor was it intended to, create a trap or add an inescapable obstacle to ensnare or trip up sloppy or inattentive counsel to the detriment of the parties to the litigation.

 There was no question that the failure in this case was sloppy, inadvertent and possibly even negligent on the part of former lawyer for the claimant. The Judge was  satisfied that the claimant could not be faulted in any way for the oversight and that the refusal of leave to withdraw these admissions would deny the claimant  his opportunity to have his injury claim heard on the merits.
 The claimant was therefore  granted leave to withdraw the admissions. ICBC however was entitled to any costs thrown away including the costs associated with the preparation of  a summary trial application and their costs for responding to the court application.  I have posted before on how to choose a personal injury lawyer. Posted by Mr. Renn A. Holness

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