Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Monday, September 19, 2022

My office will be closed on Monday, September 19, 2022, in honour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Friday, January 28, 2022

An example of a significant judgment in favour of a spousal-assault victim

In late 2021 the Supreme Court of British Columbia released its Reasons for Judgment following the trial of a civil lawsuit brought by a woman whose husband had physically attacked her in 2018.  Her most serious injuries included a broken nose, a concussion/mild traumatic brain injury [one wonders whether any brain injury can be said to be "mild," but that's a discussion for another day], and post-traumatic stress disorder.  The total award, not including "court costs" (an amount to at least partly reimburse the successful party in a lawsuit for its legal fees and expenses), was nearly $800,000 (most of which was compensation for past wage loss and for anticipated future wage loss, given that the woman was a high-income individual before the incident and was left with lingering impairment to her future income-earning potential as a result of her injuries).

One striking fact about this case is that the husband pleaded guilty earlier in criminal court to charges arising from this event.  His sentence in criminal court was an absolute discharge.

This case demonstrates the different approaches to claims of this nature in criminal court as compared to civil court.

I suspect that the husband in this case has sufficient assets to justify the claimant pursuing the lawsuit in the first place.  If the husband had been of modest means and had little or no chance of being able to pay any significant amount towards this approximately $800,000 judgment against him now or in the future, the claimant would have had to make a very hard cost-benefit decision when deciding whether it was worthwhile to pursue her civil claim in the first place.  One point in the claimant's favour is that civil judgments like this survive a bankruptcy; in other words, the husband can't simply make an assignment into bankruptcy in the hopes of having the judgment against him discharged in due course. 

 UPDATE on June 14, 2022:  The judgment is under appeal.  While the ultimate outcome may change as a result of the appeal, the cost-benefit factors to be considered by this or any similar plaintiff remain the same.  I'll update this post once I learn of the outcome of the appeal.

Monday, June 07, 2021

One of the potential risks of less-than-rigorously-completed sale transactions, this time involving bitcoin ...


The BC Supreme Court recently handed down a decision involving a claim by a buyer of bitcoin against the seller who failed to transfer the bitcoin to the buyer:

The sale was supposed to have completed in June, 2019, when the buyer paid the seller $535,000 (in traditional Canadian funds) for 50 bitcoin.

In February, 2021, about a month before the trial proceeded in court, that 50 bitcoin was worth a little over $3,000,000.

The court held that the buyer could obtain judgment against the seller, but only for the purchase price of $535,000, not for the (much higher) current fair-market value of the bitcoin.  The rationale was that the parties to the transaction effectively allocated in their bargain the risk that the bitcoin might go up or down in value (relative to Canadian funds) after the transaction, and the fact that the buyer turned out to be correct when the bitcoin later increased in value did not justify awarding him that lost increased value.

The judge also ordered the seller to pay pre-judgment "court order interest" to the buyer from June, 2019, to the date of judgment.  (The rate of pre-judgment interest from June, 2019, until the trial in March, 2021, varied from 1.95% to 0.45%.)


Wednesday, December 23, 2020

COVID-19 and legal deadlines to start lawsuits

In British Columbia, there are time deadlines for when most civil lawsuits must be started to pursue the underlying claims.  These time periods are called "limitation periods."  The length of the limitation period varies depending on the legal basis for the claim.  Usually, if your lawsuit is not started by the end of your claim's limitation period (even if you're only one day late), you lose your right to sue and your claim is over, whether you like it or not.

When the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, 2020, it prompted the powers-that-be to suspend or restrict of much of the operations of the court system.  Some forward-thinking people realized that this step could make it more difficult or even impossible for some claimants, whose limitation periods were about to expire, to file their civil lawsuits in time.  If that happened, those claimants could lose their right to pursue their claims.

So, the provincial government promptly issued an order which suspended the running of most civil limitation periods in BC effective March 26, 2020.  In other words, for most civil claims, the limitation clock was deemed to have paused ticking on that date.  That suspension was extended from time to time as the provincial state of emergency continued over the following months.

On December 21, 2020, the provincial government issued another order which ended the suspension of limitation periods for most civil claims effective March 25, 2021 (one year after the start date of the suspension).  The result is that (unless something changes in the meantime) many of the civil limitation periods in British Columbia will have been extended by exactly one year.

Note that this suspension of most civil limitation periods for a one-year period means exactly that:  The passage of time for limitation periods in those cases is deemed to have paused for that one-year period, and it resumes thereafter.  It does not mean that those civil limitation periods are all reset to zero as of March 26, 2021.

Note as well the following:

1.  Not all civil limitation periods enjoy the benefit of this one-year suspension.  There are exceptions.

2.  Not all limitations are extended by a full one-year period.  Depending on when the cause of action arose (meaning, when the basis for the claim happened) or when the claim was discoverable, the extension might be for less than a full year.

3.  This potential extension applies only to certain civil claims based on the law of British Columbia.  Claims against parties in other provinces or the territories, or based on federal legislation (the laws of Canada), might not enjoy a similar extension of time.

The law of limitation periods is very technical, and the courts tend to enforce the limitation rules very strictly.  There are entire books written on the topic.  The above note barely scratches the surface.  Promptly get legal advice if you have a limitation question or issue.


Wednesday, February 19, 2020

A doctor's view on the proposed ICBC no-fault auto insurance plan.

Here's an article in the Vancouver Sun by a doctor regarding the proposed no-fault automobile insurance plan in BC.


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The proposed change to no-fault automobile insurance in BC

Here's the link to a column in the Georgia Straight with a good explanation of why the proposed change to no-fault automobile insurance in BC is misguided.