In our Province, even insurance companies have a right to a jury in personal injury matters. We review an application by an injury claimant to strike a jury notice on the grounds the case was too complicated and required scientific investigation. The personal injury case arose from a motor vehicle accident that occurred in Delta, British Columbia (Khan v. Tyler,2018 BCSC 1634).

Rule 12-6(5) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules allows a jury notice to be struck if the issues require prolonged examination of documents, and are of an intricate or complex character.

The Master was clear in concluding that a prolonged examination of documents within the meaning of the rule was required. Furthermore she concluded the case was also medically complex:

[38] I have concluded that, while the issues in this case are of an intricate or complex character, they are not so intricate or complex as to tip the balance in favour of striking the jury, especially since credibility will play such a central role in the trial.

[39] I am satisfied that the issues can be tried fairly by a jury and that the jury will be able to manage the analysis and decision-making process required. If the trial judge determines as the trial unfolds that the trial has become unmanageable for the jury such that the jury is unable to perform its duties, the judge has the discretion to consider discharging the jury based on the circumstances as they exist at that time.

Waiting until trial begins to seek the discretion of the judge to discharge a jury is costly and inefficient. Rules 12-6 seems robust enough for this decision to be made well before a jury needs to be selected, corralled, paid and discharged. Furthermore, proportionality was not consider in the written decision.

Whether an application order like this is appealed often has more to do with cost than merit. We will however continue to follow any new developments.

Posted by Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.