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Following are this week’s summaries of the civil decisions of the Court of Appeal for Ontario.
In Benarroch v. Fred Tayar & Associates P.C., the Court of Appeal confirmed that lawyers who act for themselves are treated like all self-represented litigants when it comes to awarding costs in their favour. They are not to be paid based on their hourly rate for “lawyer’s” work done on their own case, but rather to compensate them for lost opportunities to earn remuneration from other work.
In McCabe v. Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation for the Diocese of Toronto, in Canada, the Court split on whether a trial judge erred in leaving the issue of punitive damages to a jury due to the defendant’s failure to admit liability until the morning of the trial. Justice Roberts and Chief Justice Strathy found that the trial judge erred by, in effect, creating a new and unprecedented category of punitive damages. While the defendant’s denial of liability right up until trial may give rise to a considerable costs order pursuant to Section 131 of the Courts of Justice Act Rule 57.01 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, and the court’s inherent jurisdiction to control its process to prevent an abuse of process, it does not provide, on its own, a basis for a punitive damages award. Justice Benotto dissented, and would have upheld the award of punitive damages on this basis. Justice Benotto found that the question of punitive damages should have been put to the jury because the defendant’s failure to admit liability caused the vulnerable respondent to suffer pain.