Which of your cases makes you proudest of the result?
The most satisfying part of my practice has been the civil jury trial. There is no better feeling than when the jury returns in favour of the defence. Trials are long and hard, and when the jury accepts your client’s position, you know that you have done a good job. The other cases that stand out are those that have resulted in an Appeal to the Court of Appeal. The most recent argument was in Machaj v. RBC, where the Court confirmed that a catastrophic designation was not a “benefit”. This has reduced the number of arguments of missed limitation periods and settled the law in that regard.
What do you think the most important factor is in resolving a file?
Timing is essential for resolution. This may mean that an examination for discovery is necessary, but once you hear the evidence from the Claimant, you can tell that even her own counsel does not accept her version of events. At the end of the discovery or shortly thereafter, a settlement may be possible. In other files, defence medicals may be required to be able to show the Claimant and her counsel that the defence is prepared to argue this in front of a judge and jury, and has the right experts to do so. Mediation is often the right time for most files to resolve, but there is always the ones that have more difficult liability or coverage issues that have to wait for a judicial assessment. As defence counsel, my role to make sure that all the right steps have been taken at the right time, so that when there is an opportunity for resolution, it is on the best terms possible.
What’s the most valuable lesson that your professional experience has taught you?
Patience and the value of Listening to the other side. There is much to be gained by not only hearing the Plaintiff’s discovery evidence, but to to also listen to how he presents as a claimant. The longer a witness goes on talking, the more often he will say something that does not help his case. The more time you spend listening to the other side the more you understand where they think the weaknesses in their case lie. At mediations or pre-trials, the value of process is both resolution and finding out what the other side thinks of your evidence, and how well equipped they are to deal with the flaws in their case as well.