Judgment Released: February 4, 2010 Link to Judgment
The Court considered the principle of proportionality in the context of a motion for security for costs. The plaintiffs’ home had been lost to a drug-lab fire caused by a tenant who had leased the home from the defendant property manager who had been hired by the plaintiffs. The Court canvassed the history of civil justice reform, including the Osborne Report and “Access to Justice”, a 1995 report by Lord Woolf. The Court determined that its duty was to reduce delay and ensure progress towards an “equality of arms” between the parties.
The Court held that the requests for security, totalling more than $123,000, were excessive in the circumstances and did not make the justice system “more accessible and affordable for Ontarians”. The defendant home insurer had a policy limit of $168,000. On the basis of proportionality, the Court held that the plaintiffs should pay the same amount of security for costs to each defendant, despite the defendants’ differing requests, and reduced the security to be posted through to the pre-trial conference to $10,725, including GST, for each defendant. The Court also considered the defendant property manager’s role in the plaintiffs’ deficiency of assets in Ontario (i.e. the plaintiffs’ only asset was the home that had been lost in the fire) and the fact that security was sought by two sets of counsel.
The Court noted that it did not “regard the mandate of the new Rules to be ‘more of the same’”. The Court stated its hope that its Reasons would help the bench and bar in dealing with the new Rules to make the civil justice system more accessible and affordable.