There are various levels of court in British Columbia including the Provincial Small Claims Court, the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal.
For motor vehicle accidents which occurred before April 1, 2019, ICBC claims are heard in either the Provincial Small Claims Court or the Supreme Court. The value of the ICBC claim will determine which court the matter will be heard in:
- The Provincial Small Claims Court handles ICBC claims valued between $5,000.00 and $35,000.00
- The Supreme Court handles ICBC claims in excess of $35,000.00
The NDP government made changes to where ICBC claims are handled for motor vehicle accidents which occurred after April 1, 2019 where now the online Civil Resolution Tribunal (also known as the CRT) handles ICBC claims with a value of up to $50,000.00 instead of the Provincial Small Claims Court. ICBC claims in excess of $50,000.00 are handled by the Supreme Court.
For ICBC claims arising out of a motor vehicle accident which occurred before April 1, 2019, section 15 of the BC Supreme Court Act allows a party to the action to apply to transfer the ICBC claim to the Provincial Small Claims Court. These transfer applications are most commonly brought by ICBC instead of injured claimants as it is a way for ICBC to enforce a limit to the value of a claim instead of allowing the trial judge to determine the value according to the evidence and the law.
In Herrera v. Miller 2020 BCSC 62, the injured claimant brought an action for damages arising out of injuries he suffered in a motor vehicle accident on November 2, 2017. ICBC on behalf of the defendant applied to transfer the claim to the Provincial Small Claims Court which would limit the injured claimant’s claim to $35,000.00.
In support of the transfer, ICBC argued that the motor vehicle accident was minor and that the injured claimant’s injuries were insignificant.
In arguing against the transfer, the injured claimant provided evidence to the court indicating that his injuries were clearly not insignificant as argued by ICBC, but rather they were continuing as of the time of the application, which was more than 2 years after the motor vehicle accident. The injured claimant also provided evidence that he was continuing to receive therapy to help to manage his pain and his function.
In deciding whether or not to grant ICBC’s request for a transfer, the judge applied a 2 part test:
- Is the proceeding sought to be transferred within the jurisdiction (monetary limit) of the Provincial Small Claims Court?
- Second, is the transfer appropriate in the circumstances?
The judge also considered the decision in Kooner v. Singh 2011 BCSC 1384 which established that it is only in the clearest of cases that a matter should be transferred from the Supreme Court to the Provincial Small Claims Court.
After considering the law and the evidence including the injured claimant’s young age and his injuries which had not yet resolved, ICBC’s application was dismissed and the claim remained in the Supreme Court.