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Supreme Court of B.C. Reaffirms Principle of Reasonableness For Legal Disbursements

Salsman v. Planes 2014 BCSC 45

The defendant challenged numerous of the plaintiff’s claimed disbursements following settlement of a motor vehicle action for approximately $150,000 plus assessable costs and disbursements. The plaintiff claimed $52,674.65 for costs and disbursements, more than 1/3 of the settlement value of the case. At an assessment before Registrar Bouck, Kelly McCullagh, counsel for the defendant, successfully argued that proportionality should apply to claims for costs and disbursements. Based on proportionality and a reaffirmation of the old rule that a party responsible for costs need only pay the other party’s costs based on an Oldsmobile (reasonable) and not a Cadillac (extravagant) approach, numerous of the plaintiff’s disbursements were reduced or disallowed. Registrar Bouck refers to an emerging consensus amongst assessing officers that the Supreme Court Civil Rules, in effect in BC since 2010, invite a more vigorous approach to the issues of necessity, propriety and reasonableness of legal disbursements than is evident in decisions rendered in the decade before the new Rules took effect.