In this ICBC adjuster personal injury case( Luis v. Haw,2011 BCSC 815) the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia made a most bizarre request that the ICBC bodily injury adjuster attend at a mandatory trial management conference in place of the ICBC lawyer by phone.  This application was firmly dismissed by the Supreme Court requiring comment of the court.
The ICBC adjuster ignored that Rule 23‑5(3) allowing telephone conference or the court conducting business by telephone is an option based on urgency.  To support his request which would permit the adjuster Kevin Munt to appear by telephone the ICBC lawyer wrote the following letter,

“Kevin Munt is the handling adjuster for these claims and has knowledge and authority pertaining to the claims. Kevin Munt requests to participate in the trial management conference by phone, because he currently has a number of appointments and, as such, cannot guarantee his personal attendance, except by phone.”

As the judge pointed out,

“[30]  I have struggled with how to express the extreme concern of the court about what this letter may suggest. Kevin Munt wants to appear on behalf of the defendants, yet close to two weeks prior to the required trial management conference he does not appear to have the ability to make a required court attendance a personal scheduling priority.

[31]  Let me emphasize this as strongly as I can. The rule requires that the defendants attend. Rule 12‑2(5) allows authorized representatives, such as an adjuster in this case, to attend in the place of the defendant. Unless there is urgency, which is hard to imagine with a two-week pre-arranged matter, or extreme inconvenience, personal attendance is the default position. The fact that an adjuster, whose job I assume it is to deal with claims, believes that he is too busy to attend a mandatory court appearance, is simply not good enough.

[32]  As there is no urgency shown and no extreme inconvenience, this aspect of the application must simply be dismissed.”

As for the ICBC adjuster’s request to appear in court at the trial management conference without a lawyer Judge Groves commented,

“[20] If this is a request for Kevin Munt, who is an adjuster, to appear and that counsel not appear, that is completely inappropriate. Trial management conferences are significant and they are a significant change to the rules. They are mandatory and no trial certificate is issued without the parties attending. Though interlocutory, trial management conferences cannot be done by Masters, who do not hear trials. In my view, this suggests the drafters of the rules have placed significant emphasis on the requirement of trial management conferences.

[21] Noting that, I also then note that there are a number of matters that can be discussed at trial management conferences, as set out in subrule 12‑2(9), that require legal analysis and are clearly not within the knowledge of an adjuster representing an insurance company. These include:  (a) a plan as to how the trial was to be conducted; (c) amendments to pleadings within a fixed time; (d) admissions of fact at trial; (e) admission of documents at trial; (i) respecting experts’ reports and issues dealing with experts’ reports; (l) an adjournment of trial; and (m) directing the number of days reserved for trial to be changed.

[22]  Without even considering the clear requirement that people are represented in court by counsel or by themselves, it is, from my reading of what is to transpire at a trial management conference, completely inappropriate to suggest that when a defendant has counsel, that someone else, in this case an adjuster, appear essentially as counsel at a trial management conference. It is impossible to imagine how the requirements of a trial management conference can be accomplished by an adjuster appearing on behalf of the defendants, as may be the request in this requisition.”

Posted by Mr. Renn A. Holness
Issue: Should ICBC adjusters be able to appear in court on behalf of at fault car accident drivers in place of lawyers?

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