I am a personal injury lawyer in British Columbia with my law firm office located in downtown Vancouver. Over the years I have represented injury claimants from all over the Province and as I write this post I sit at the Thompson River University in Kamloops waiting for a settlement meeting with ICBC and their lawyer for a personal injury case.
So if you live outside of Vancouver the following case illustrates that it may certainly be worth it to hire a lawyer in Vancouver to assist you in your injury claim.
The injury case of Milkovich v. Bucan which I recently reviewed for a different issue is a case in which ICBC, the winning party, got compensation for the costs of hiring an out of town lawyer.
In Milkovichthe losing party refused to pay any of the expenses related to travel by the ICBC Vancouver lawyer to either Prince George or Nanaimo. It was argued that the costs were unnecessarily incurred as ICBC could have assigned a lawyer in Prince George to conduct the lawsuit and examinations for discovery and used a Nanaimo agent to attend at the costs assessment hearings.
A party’s entitlement to compensation for retaining a “out-of-town” lawyer has been the subject matter of numerous decisions in British Columbia. In the often cited case of Allen v. Homan (1998), 45 B.C.L.R. (3d) 211 (S.C.) , the Court outlined the following principles:
“With these various decisions in mind, I am of the view that the following principles, inter alia, should be utilized to determine whether or not costs associated with the retention of out-of-town counsel[lawyer] should properly be visited upon the unsuccessful party:
1. The tariff of party and party costs is predicated on there being a traditional review of all costs and disbursements claimed by the successful party and the allowance of those items found to be reasonable and necessary in the particular circumstances of the case before they are properly visited upon the defendant.
2. The particular circumstances of each case will determine if particular cost items and related disbursements should be borne by the unsuccessful party.
3. The assessing officer’s review of Item 36 claims (out-of-town counsel) and related disbursements should be no different than the assessing officer’s review of any other item and related disbursement, the sole question being reasonableness and necessity.
4. Relative to Item 36 and related disbursements, there should be no set rule that a successful party will be denied indemnification relative to these costs unless exceptional circumstances are shown to exist.
5. The reasonableness of the decision to encase out-of-town counsel must be demonstrated by the party submitting the bill, the onus remaining with him or her as it is with he or she demonstrating the necessity and reasonableness of any other disbursement incurred in the prosecution of the case for which indemnification from the unsuccessful party is claimed.
6. In determining the reasonableness of the submitting party’s decision to retain out-of-town counsel, the assessing officer should objectively attempt to determine whether or not the decision to retain the out-of-town counsel was reasonable and necessary in all of the circumstances…
Ultimately, the question is — Is it reasonable in all of the circumstances of a particular case to have costs associated with the retention of out-of-town counsel visited upon the unsuccessful party?”
Apparently the lawyer was chosen to represent ICBC because of his experience and expertise in making submissions to WCAT. In the courts view this fact alone did not justify the hiring of the Vancouver lawyer. In this case travel was found to have been required regardless of the ICBC’s choice of lawyer. This factor together with the lawyer’s expertise made ICBC’s choice of lawyer reasonable.
The court also reviewed Brown v. Lowe wherein the injury claimant commenced an action out of the Nanaimo registry even though that locale had no connection to the claimant’s residency and the only connection to the locale was the fact that the personal injury lawyer for the claimant practiced near that registry. The court found that it was proper for the other side to be represented by an experienced Vancouver lawyer particularly given the significant amount of money being sought by the claimant. Posted by Mr. Renn A. Holness