B.C. Attorney General David Eby introduces former NDP cabinet minister Joy MacPhail as chair of the ICBC board Aug. 19, 2018. (B.C. government)

B.C. Attorney General David Eby introduces former NDP cabinet minister Joy MacPhail as chair of the ICBC board Aug. 19, 2018. (B.C. government)

Judge rejects taking lawyers out of minor ICBC injury cases

David Eby vows battle against ‘personal injury industry’

The chief justice of the B.C. Supreme Court has found that parts of B.C.’s vehicle insurance reforms are unconstitutional, particularly the shift of injury cases under $50,000 from courts to an online tribunal.

The Trial Lawyers Association of B.C. challenged legislation brought in by Attorney General David Eby to move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal, which was originally set up to resolve strata property disputes. The lawyers lauded the latest ruling by Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson of the B.C. Supreme Court, which also questioned Eby’s core argument that court costs are a major driver of huge losses at the Insurance Corp. of B.C.

“The court has declared that it is unconstitutional for the government to simply re-assign the determination of accident claims to its own online tribunal, and out of the courts,” the Trial Lawyers Association said in a statement March 2. “In so doing, the court has provided a check on the government’s ability to create its own tribunal to decide claims against ICBC, while at the same time affirming the historic right of accident victims to pursue remedies for their injuries before the courts.”

Eby said Wednesday he will announce March 8 whether the government will appeal the decision, which his ministry estimates would cost $390 million more if disputes go back to B.C. Supreme Court. He said the decision won’t affect the NDP government’s promised ICBC rate reduction and COVID-19 rebates, which are currently being promoted in a series of TV ads.

Eby continued his combative position on what he called an out-of-control “multi-million dollar personal injury industry that we’re clipping the wings of.”

Hinkson rejected the government’s argument that injury cases have been clogging B.C. courts. He noted that while a third of civil cases filed in court were motor vehicle accident-related in 2019, fewer than one per cent of resolved injury claims actually went to trial between 2015 and 2019. And he also punctured the government’s argument that a surge of lower-value cases is pushing up ICBC’s costs.

RELATED: B.C. won’t appeal decision protecting ICBC court experts

VIDEO: B.C. to reduce ICBC rates, further restrict injury lawsuits

“The Attorney General argues the evidence shows that lower value claims in the range of $50,000 or less made up the vast majority of claims in the system even before the imposition of the cap on non-pecuniary damages for minor injuries,” Hinkson wrote. “In each of the five fiscal years ending in 2016 through 2020, the proportion of resolved bodily injury claims from pre-April 1, 2019 accidents that resulted in payments of $50,000 or less was consistently over 80 per cent, and only an average of about 15 per cent were litigated. The subset of this 15 per cent that were actually judicially adjudicated in trials were less than one per cent.”

Hinkson also ruled against an earlier bid by Eby to reduce court costs by limiting expert witnesses in injury cases, striking down that legislation in October 2019. The government chose not to appeal that decision and instead went ahead with the broader move of capping “pain and suffering” awards at $5,500 and shifting smaller injury disputes to the tribunal.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureBC politicsICBC

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Tala MacDonald, a 17-year-old student at Mount Sentinel Secondary who is also a volunteer firefighter, has won the $100,000 Loran Scholarship. Photo: Submitted
West Kootenay student wins $100K scholarship

Tala MacDonald is one of 30 Canadians to receive the Loran Scholarship

Montrose resident Kimba McLean has hiked Antenna Trail every day since October and counting. Photo: Jim Bailey
Montrose man makes daily trek up Antenna Trail

Kimba McLean put on more than 800-km hiking Antenna Trail every day for the past six months

Kristian Camero and Jessica Wood, seen here, co-own The Black Cauldron with Stephen Barton. The new Nelson restaurant opened earlier this month while indoor dining is restricted by the province. Photo: Tyler Harper
A restaurant opens in Nelson, and no one is allowed inside

The Black Cauldron opened while indoor dining is restricted in B.C.

First-year Selkirk College student Terra-Mae Box is one of many talented writers who will read their work at the Black Bear Review’s annual (virtual) launch on April 22. Photo: Submitted
Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Local carpenter Tyler Bohn embarked on a quest to create the East Sooke Treehouse, after seeing people build similar structures on a Discovery Channel show. (East Sooke Treehouse Facebook photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. carpenter builds fort inspired by TV’s ‘Treehouse Masters’

The whimsical structure features a wooden walking path, a loft, kitchen – and is now listed on Airbnb

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

An Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island (XRVI) climate change event in 2019 saw a large crowd occupy the Johnson Street bridge. Black Press File Photo
‘In grief for our dying world’: B.C. climate activists embark on 4-day protest

Demonstrators will walk through Vancouver for the first two days before boarding a ferry Sunday morning

Most Read