The first decision to consider the new B.C. Tariff of Costs has now been released. The decision of the British Columbia Expropriation Compensation Board in C.R. All Trucks Ltd. v. British Columbia (Minister of Transportation and Highways),  EXLAW 309, was released on April 11, 2000.
C.R. All Trucks deals with two preliminary issues which have been of considerable interest to lawyers practising in this area. The first was whether the Tariff of Costs Regulation was applicable to the costs in question. The Claimant, represented by Robert S. Cosburn of Cosburn & Associates, a law firm based in Victoria, argued that there were several features of the regulation that were inconsistent with the Expropriation Act from which it derived its authority. From this he reasoned that the regulation was void because it took away rights granted by the Act. However, the Board did not agree and found the tariff was valid. The Ministry of Transportation and Highways was represented by Nerys Poole of the Ministry of Attorney General Legal Services Branch.
The second issue was whether there was a prescribed format for submission of cost claims and if so, whether it was the responsibility of the Claimant to submit the claim to the expropriating authority in that format. This issue arose shortly after the tariff was first adopted in June 1999. At that time, several provincial government Ministries took the step of notifying claimants involved in active expropriation cases that a prescribed format should henceforth be used for submission of cost claims under the Expropriation Act. Claimants who failed to follow this procedure were advised that their cost claims would be rejected. A sample of the Ministry's required format was attached to the form letters that were sent out. Unfortunately, this format had no legislative sanction and in fact no forms were prescribed in the tariff regulation.
The Board decided that it had no jurisdiction to impose a format for submission of cost claims to the expropriating authority. However, it did have jurisdiction to impose a format for presentation of cost claims at cost review hearings. The Board determined that cost claims should be presented in a format that is similar to the bill of costs format under the Supreme Court Rules. It also concluded that the task of converting actual accounts for professional services into tariff claims was the responsibility of claimants.
A new Practice Directive No. 6, incorporating the new bill of costs format requirement, was adopted by the Board. It can be viewed at the Board's website at www.ecb.gov.bc.ca/directve.htm .