ICBC Ordered to Pay Special Costs for Post-Judgment Delays

ICBC has been ordered to pay an injured man special costs for unreasonable conduct following trial.

In Purewal v. Uriarte, 2021 BCSC 1935, the plaintiff was injured in car accident in 2016. ICBC had conduct of the defence on behalf of the at-fault party. The plaintiff’s claim proceeded to trial in June 2020. The judge ultimately awarded him almost $650,000.

After judgment was rendered, ICBC wanted to apply to have the judgment reduced by the amount of no-fault benefits paid or payable in the future. While this happens all the time, ICBC dragged its feet in setting a date to have the issue heard by the Court. If that wasn’t enough, ICBC refused to pay the man the uncontested portion of the judgment; essentially holding it hostage indefinitely. In the end, it took the plaintiff 10 months to get before the judge to have the matter of deductions heard.

In addition to arguing over the appropriateness of certain deductions, the plaintiff asked the judge to award special costs against ICBC for its post-judgment conduct.

In awarding special costs against ICBC, the judge stated:

[70]      The plaintiff argues that she has been prejudiced as a result of the unexplained delay on the part of ICBC in paying out uncontested portions of the judgment, and delaying in setting this application. She says that ICBC has engaged in reprehensible conduct and is likely to engage in further dishonourable conduct in the future.

[71]      I agree that ICBC has taken an exceptionally long time to make the payments I ordered in this case. ICBC unreasonably delayed making payments that were not subject to potential s. 83 deductions, including after the defendant had abandoned his appeal of my decision. The defendant has also delayed in bringing on this application, leaving the plaintiff with the question of what deductions should be made outstanding for almost one year after my decision.

[73]      In the case before me, the delay on the part of the defendant, and his insurer ICBC, are far more egregious than in Fatin. After moving quickly to get dates in January 2021 for the hearing of this application, the defendant let the matter slide and only on the initiative of the plaintiff was it finally set for hearing in July. The defendant ought to have known that one hour would not be adequate, given the issues raised and the volume of material filed, and should have requested a one-day hearing in July. Because they did not, the matter had to be adjourned to September, leaving the plaintiff with a significant issue outstanding for almost one year.

[74]      Further, no explanation has been given as to why all but the contested s. 83 deductions were not paid to the plaintiff shortly after the judgment was rendered in November 2020. While there may have been discussions and negotiations between counsel on aspects of the s. 83 deductions, there were significant portions of the judgment which were not in dispute. The plaintiff had to wait seven months to receive the uncontested portions of her judgment. That is simply not acceptable.

[75]      Therefore, I find the conduct of the defendant and their insurer in bringing this application, and in withholding payment of substantial portions of the judgment in anticipation of this application, to be reprehensible and deserving of rebuke.

[76]      I order special costs against the defendants on this application.

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