BC Supreme Court awards double costs in family law case

The case involved a contentious dispute over the children's relocation and parenting time

BC Supreme Court awards double costs in family law case

The Supreme Court of British Columbia has granted a respondent's application for double costs against the claimant following a contentious dispute over their children's relocation and parenting time.

In J.L.L. v A.J.M, 2024 BCSC 156 the court found that the respondent's offer to settle was unreasonably ignored by the claimant, leading to an unnecessary continuation of the litigation process.

The case initially centred around the claimant's proposal to relocate with the two children from Mission, BC, to Kamloops, BC, to live with a new partner. This move was contested by the respondent, culminating in a trial that spanned 12 days and concluded with the court's decision to deny the relocation request, mandating that the children's primary residence remain in Mission with the respondent.

In a detailed judgment, the court outlined the progression of the litigation, highlighting the respondent's repeated offers to settle that closely mirrored the trial's outcome. These offers were consistently rejected by the claimant, who proceeded to request additional reports and make further unfounded applications for interim relocation orders, actions deemed by the court as contributing to the waste of judicial resources and trial time.

The court underscored the claimant's failure to admit key facts before trial, leading to an unnecessary extension of the proceedings to establish truths the claimant had previously denied. The court also noted the claimant's misrepresentation of facts to an expert, whose reports were eventually excluded from evidence at trial due to the claimant's dishonesty.

The court’s decision to award double costs to the respondent was based on multiple factors, including the reasonableness of the respondent's settlement offers, the final judgment's alignment with these offers, and the parties' relative financial circumstances. The court emphasized that financial hardship on the part of the claimant does not suffice to warrant a departure from awarding costs to the successful party.

Additionally, the court ordered the claimant to cover all fees associated with the expert’s involvement in the case, including the preparation of expert reports and trial attendance, due to the claimant's reliance on these reports and subsequent refusal to contribute to their cost.

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