Basics of Fast Track Litigation
What is Fast Track Litigation?
Fast track litigation is created by Rule 15-1 of the British Columbia Supreme Court rules. The goal is to allow for less complicated cases to be completed more quickly. Specifically, the target is that cases subject to fast track can go from filing to trial within eight months. Eight months may not seem that fast, but as compared to much other litigation in the BC Supreme Court it is very quick.
What is Different in Fast Track Litigation?
Fast track litigation speeds litigation by simplifying some parts of the Court processes. Specifically:
- Jury trials are not available: A party cannot choose to have a trial subject to the fast track rule heard by a jury
- Examination for discovery is shorter: Examination for discovery in a fast track proceeding is limited to two hours. This is instead of the ordinary rule where seven hours of discovery is permitted. For more information on examinations for discovery, see Discovery
- Expert evidence is limited: A party in a fast track proceeding may call only one expert witness on the topic of damages arising from personal injury or death. This is in contrast to the ordinary rule which allows three witnesses. For more information on expert evidence see Experts Witnesses
- Costs are fixed: The amount of costs available in a fast track trial are fixed. Specifically, costs awarded to the successful party are set at $8,000 if the trial is one day or less, $9,500 if the trial is two days, and $11,000 if the trial is more than two days. These amounts do not include disbursements. For more information on costs awards see Costs
These rules are the default. However, a Court can order that any of these rules do not apply in any particular case, if convinced it is just to do so.
When is Fast Track Available?
For a case to be under the fast track rules one of the parties must apply to move the case into fast track litigation. This is done by filing a notice of fast track action in Form 61. Rule 15-1 describes certain types of cases that are appropriate for fast track litigation.
Cases that could be fast tracked have one or more of these factors:
- The only claims are for money, real property, personal property, or a builders lien, and the total value of everything claimed is $100,000 or less (not including interest and costs)
- The trial of the action can be completed in 3 days
- The parties all agree
- The Court orders that the fast track rule applies
Fast track litigation applies only to actions started by a notice of civil claim. It does not apply to petitions. For more on the difference between actions and petitions see Action or Petition.
Fast track litigation cannot be used in family proceedings, class proceedings, or jury trials.
Note that nothing in Rule 15-1 prevents the judge from awarding damages to a plaintiff in a fast track action for an amount over $100,000.
Can You Stop Fast Track Litigation?
The parties can by consent remove a case from the fast track. If the parties do not consent, any party can apply to court to remove the case from the fast track process.
You can apply by bringing an application, on the basis that the value, importance, or complexity of the case are higher than what is reasonable for a fast track action. For more information on bringing an application, see Chambers Applications.
In some cases, the Court may make its own decision to remove the case from the fast track process (Rule 15-1(6)).
Remember that if your proceeding is removed from the fast track litigation process, you will have to revert to the regular trial list and your proceeding will take longer and may cost more to complete.