Baffled, the Court was forced to award special costs after ICBC settled a personal injury case yet refused to pay costs. Lawyer Jacqueline Small obtained $2,000 in special costs and costs thrown away due to ICBC failure to response to a simple Bill of Costs. ICBC’s lawyer had failed to respond to the Bill of Costs for months, leaving the injury claimant out of pocket, despite the claimants agreement to settle the case.
The defendant’s inordinate delay in responding to a simple list of disbursements and costs undermined the inherent benefits to the settlement. Inherent benefits to settlement often include: avoidance of further expenses, quicker resolution of issues, and allowing the plaintiff access to settlement funds in a timely manner.
The failure to honour the spirit of the settlement agreement was considered reprehensible conduct deserving of rebuke and special costs were awarded against the defendant by Master Taylor sitting as Registrar. The purpose behind awards of special costs were summarized by Judge Walker in Mayer v. Osborne Contracting Ltd., 2011 BCSC 914:
 Special costs are awarded where a litigant engaged in reprehensible conduct. The purpose of an award of special costs is to chastise a litigant. Special costs are punitive in nature and encompass an element of deterrence. A wide meaning is given to the word “reprehensible”. The term represents a general and all-encompassing expression of the applicable standard for an award of special costs. “Reprehensible” conduct includes conduct that is scandalous, outrageous, or constitutes misbehaviour, as well as milder forms of misconduct that in a court’s view deserves reproof or rebuke.
Special costs may be ordered against an ICBC insured in circumstances where the ICBC lawyer has made the resolution of costs far more difficult than it should have been.
This is an ongoing trend for ICBC and is likely the cause of the increasing costs they incur in fighting legitimate injury claims. This is not the first time the reprehensible behaviour of ICBC has drawn judicial comment and it appears ICBC is manipulating their monopoly in ominous new ways.