Fast Track Litigation

Fast track litigation in BC was introduced by the Supreme Court Civil Rules in July of 2010.  It combined former rules, Rules 66 and 68.  The benefit of Rue 15-1 is to have matters expedited in the Court system for a cost far less than a typical trial.

Rule 15-1 applies to matters that may be heard for trial in 3 days or less, the value is 100,000 or less or if both parties to the litigation consent.  Fast track litigation does not apply to family law matters (typically matters that are commenced by Petition), class actions and jury trials.  Litigation under Rule 15-1 are commenced by Notice of Civil Claim.

A brief history is discussed in Shaker v. Chow, 2012 BCSC 617 (CanLII):

Rule 66 was introduced in 1998 as a pilot project (B.C. Reg. 161/98)and was expanded to have general application in 2002 (B.C. Reg. 83/2002). Rule 66 focussed on the amount of trial time the action would require. Rule 66(1) provided:

(1)        The object of this rule is to provide a speedier and less expensive determination of certain actions the trial of which can be completed within two days.

[16]           In 2005, Rule 68 was brought into force (B.C. Reg. 177/2005). It provided an expedited litigation process for certain actions whose monetary value did not exceed $100,000.00 but did not have any restriction on the length of trial.

[17]           Under the current Rule 15-1, a case may be brought subject to the rule in any one of four situations:

(1)      it is a case falling within subrule (1)(a) having a monetary value of not more than $100,000;

(2)      the trial can be completed in three days;

(3)      the parties consent; or

(4)      the court so orders.

The rule is triggered by filing a notice of fast track Action in Form 61.

A few matters that differ under Rule 15-1 to take note:

  • Rule 7-1 applies to fast track litigation in connection with discovery and inspection of documents;
  • Examinations for discovery are limited to 2 hours
  • Examinations for discovery must be completed not less than 14 days before the scheduled trial date
  • Jury trials are not permitted when Rule 15-1 applies. See Rule 15-1(10).
  • Under Rule 15-1 parties may make the usual applications pursuant to Rule 7-1 to seek documents from the opposite party or third parties, but, according to Rule 15-1(7), applications supported by affidavit evidence are not permitted until a case planning conference has been held.
  • Although this restriction does not apply only to fast track proceedings, it is worth noting that interrogatories, which are a type of written discovery questions regulated by Rule 7-3, may only be used if the party to be examined consents or the court orders that the interrogatories be answered (Rule 7-3(1)).

See:  Rule 15 – Fast Track Litigation

For purposes of procedure, here are a few more facts to take note of:

  • The only claims in the action are for one or more of money, real property, a builder’s lien and personal property and the total of the following amounts is $100,000 or less, exclusive of interest and costs;
  • The Court may order that Rule 15-1 be triggered to a claim
  • Although fast track provision are for claims valued at 100,000, it is in the court’s discretionary function to order an award above the limit  (the rule does not prevent awards over 100K)
  • Form 61 Notice of Fast Track Litigation must be served on all parties in the litigation
  • Once fast track has been triggered, the words “subject to Rule15-1” must be written on all pleadings thereafter immediately under the style of proceeding (centered on the document);
  • Throughout the litigation, both parties may consent to have the matter removed from Rule 15-1;
  • We often see applications to court to have Rule 15-1 removed from a claim. Typical and common reasons to apply to court are due to value or importance or complexity of the case (eg:  more than 3 days would be required for the trial based on the number of witnesses or the number of experts is a common argument);
  • Fast track means that you must apply for a trial date within 4 months from the date that fast track was triggered.  This is a date you want to note and not miss if your intention is to trigger this rule!
  • The Registrar thereafter must issue a trial date within 4 months from the date that you applied for a trial date (quick!). You really need to fast track your case if you are going to use this rule, but it is very possible to manage this.
  • A Case Planning Conference is required under Rule 15-1;
  • In the event you need to apply to Court for an Order under an action that is subject to Rule 15-1, you may not do so until such time as a Case Planning Conference has been held. This should always be diarized to ensure that you are scheduling your CPC’s in a timely manner in case certain issues come up and a court application is required;
  • Keep in mind that you may proceed to a court application regardless of whether a CPC has been held in the following matters only: if you seek an Order to remove Rule 15-1 from the action, to strike pleadings, summary judgement, summary trial or urgent applications;
  • You may seek an Order to have a discovery last longer than 2 hours; Of course you would need to pose good arguments to succeed in such an Order;
  • Costs are limited under this rule; However, the court may issue higher costs in special circumstances;

Helpful article is noted Fast Track Litigation

We will briefly review  a matter of cases dealing with Fast Track provisions and will extract some key points made in the following decisions:

Shaker v. Chow, 2012 BCSC 617 (CanLII)

The Defendant applies to Court to have the fast track provisions removed from the case on the basis that more than 3 days will be required for trial.  The submissions were that 18 to 20 witnesses would be required for trial.  Also 14 individuals were mentioned in the Plaintiff’s particulars, an expert witness for each side, including fact witnesses. The Defendant was of the opinion that 14 days was more appropriate for this matter.  The Court ordered that the matter be removed from Rule 15-1;

Hemani v. Hillard, 2011 BCSC 1381 (CanLII)

This matter is a hearing at a Case Planning Conference and the Defendant questions whether Rule 15-1 is appropriate as 5 days are likely required for the trial of this matter.  The Defendant points to Rule 15-1 (14) which provides the court with the discretionary authority to adjourn the trial if more than 3 days will be required for hearing.  As the Defendant did not make a formal application to the court to seek removal of Rule 15-1, the Court was bound by statutory interpretation and did not remove the matter from fast track.  (Lessen learned – you can not ask for such an Order at a Case Planning Conference).

Lam v. Chiu, 2013 BCSC 1281 (CanLII)

The Defendant seeks higher costs in a claim that resolved for 100,000 but took over 13 days for the hearing.  The Court reviews a Court of Appeal decision on this topic and orders a higher amount of costs, although limited to a total of $23,750, versus the amount of $135,000 claimed by the Defendant.

Saopaseuth v. Phavongkham, 2015 BCSC 45 (CanLII)

An application to the Court is made by the Defendant post trial to claim higher costs in a Fast Track matter but required 7 days for hearing.  The Court states  For the reasons which follow, the plaintiff’s costs claim is limited to “fast track” costs calculated pursuant to Rule 15-1(15) and, as the trial lasted seven days, the total costs award is $17,000.

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