Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A party must be ready for trial

Hess v. Town of Iqaluit, 2012 NWTCA 8 is a very ordinary case with one interesting aside – the plaintiff let the case drag and was faced with a motion to dismiss for delay.  That motion was dismissed but the Court gave directions for the purpose of ensuring that the trial would take place Spring of 2010.  At that time the plaintiff still had not done everything required and as a result medical evidence was ruled inadmissible because the plaintiff had not complied with the Rules. The Court expressly found that the respondents were “seriously prejudiced by the failure to receive any pretrial notice of the subject matter of the proposed medical evidence”. He also refused the appellant’s request for an adjournment to secure the personal attendance of the two doctors, because of the length of the delay in getting to trial, and because of the imperative nature of his order in refusing the application to dismiss for want of prosecution.  An appeal based on this ruling was dismissed because the plaintiff was responsible for the difficulty:

[10]           The trial judge, in exercising his discretion either to admit the medical evidence at trial, or to grant an adjournment so that it could be heard at a later date, took into account that he had effectively given the appellant a second chance when he refused to dismiss the claim for want of prosecution. It was incumbent upon the appellant, therefore, to get his evidence in order. In particular, this meant complying with the trial judge’s direction with respect to the expert evidence. As the trial judge noted, it was apparent that the appellant intended to call the two doctors as experts all along. It was his obligation to tender their reports, in accordance with the Rules, and to make provision for their personal attendance at the trial or for permission to have their viva voce evidence given by telephone. He did none of these things, with the result that we cannot find the trial judge exercised his discretion unreasonably, or erred in principle in doing so.

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