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Plaintiff fined $25,000 for non-compliance with Court orders

UPDATE – July 2015

The below-mentioned decision was overturned on appeal (2015 BCSC 1161) . The Court held that the Master had no jurisdiction to make an order imposing a $25,000 sanction on the plaintiff for failure to comply with a consent order for the production of documents.

Original Case Report

In Badreldin v. Swatridge 2015 BCSC 450 the plaintiff was ordered to pay $25,000 to the defendant as a result of his persistent pattern of non-compliance with court orders. This was a personal injury action arising from a motor vehicle accident.

The defendant first obtained a consent order that the plaintiff produce documents relating to his claim for loss of earnings and earning capacity. The plaintiff failed to comply with the consent order and the defendant applied to dismiss the action. At the first Chambers hearing the court gave the plaintiff more time and again ordered him to comply with the consent order. The plaintiff again failed to comply and the defendant reset the application to dismiss the action. The plaintiff finally complied with the two orders substantially, but not completely, only at the last minute, after the court adjourned the application to dismiss the action, twice more, this time to give the plaintiff a chance to provide evidence of a lawful excuse to comply.

The court found the plaintiff had no lawful excuse for failing to comply with the orders, but refused to strike the action, holding that this is a “draconian” tool to be used sparingly, only in the most egregious cases, which this was not. The court considered striking the plaintiff’s economic loss claim, but had insufficient evidence to assess the impact of such an order on the plaintiff. Ultimately the court ordered the plaintiff to pay to the defendant the sum of $25,000, in addition to the costs of the several Chambers hearings, all of which would be offset against any settlement or judgment. The sanction was required to bring it home to the plaintiff that court orders must be obeyed.

Case law update by: Fareeha Qaiser