Court Discusses “Real And Substantial Connection” Test

In Sooparayachetty v. Fox, several residents of British Columbia and the United Kingdom were involved in an accident in Alberta. The parties sued both in Alberta and British Columbia, however the British Columbia cases were dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The Court discussed the relevant legal principles with respect to the “real and substantial connection” test.

 

[13] The Court of Appeal has recently confirmed that the question of jurisdiction is to be determined exclusively by the substantive rules set out in the Court Jurisdiction and Proceedings Transfer Act, S.B.C. 2003, c. 28 (“CJPTA”):  Stanway v. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc., 2009 BCCA 592, at para. 12.

 

[14] Section 3 of the CJPTA sets out the circumstances in which a court has territorial jurisdiction as follows:

 

A court has territorial competence in a proceeding that is brought against a person only if:

 

(a)        that person is the plaintiff in another proceeding in the court to which the proceeding in question is a counterclaim,

(b)        during the course of the proceeding that person submits to the court’s jurisdiction,

(c)        there is an agreement between the plaintiff and that person to the effect that the court has jurisdiction in the proceeding,

(d)        that person is ordinarily resident in British Columbia at the time of the commencement of the proceeding, or

(e)        there is a real and substantial connection between British Columbia and the facts on which the proceeding against that person is based.

 

[15] Section 10 of the CJPTA sets out a list of circumstances that presumptively constitute a real and substantial connection between British Columbia and the facts on which a proceeding is based for the purposes of s. 3(e).  A plaintiff who is unable to bring herself within the statutory presumptions may nevertheless prove other circumstances which constitute a real and substantial connection.

 

[16] The plaintiffs rely on s. 3(e) of the CJPTA – real and substantial connection between British Columbia and the facts on which the proceeding against the defendants is based.  In this case, the presumptive circumstances in section 10 of the CJPTA do not apply.  It is therefore for the plaintiffs to establish that there is the real and substantial connection necessary to found jurisdiction…

 

 [19] On this application, Ms. Sooparayachetty relies on the fact that she continues to suffer damages in British Columbia arising from the Alberta accident and on the fact that her injuries from the Alberta accident have now been aggravated by a second accident which took place in British Columbia.  These facts are not contentious.  Do they establish a sufficient nexus between the subject-matter of this action and British Columbia?

 

[20] While “real and substantial connection” has not been defined, the cases provide some guidance as to what connections are insufficient to found jurisdiction.

 

[21] It is clear that the fact that a plaintiff is resident in British Columbia is insufficient:  Roed v. Scheffler et al, 2009 BCSC 731, at para. 35, citing Jordan v. Schatz, 2000 BCCA 409, and Williams v. TST Porter (c.o.b. 6422217 Canada Inc.) 2008 BCSC 1315.

 

[22] The fact that a plaintiff continues to suffer damages in British Columbia is insufficient to establish a real and substantial connection on its own: Roed, supra, at para. 43…

 

[26] Since the hearing of this application, our Court of Appeal has rejected the approach set out in Muscutt: see Stanway, supra, paras. 71 to 73.  Smith J.A., writing for the court, held that:

 

In my view, any reliance on the Muscutt factors as a guide to determining the question of jurisdiction came to an end in British Columbia with the coming into force of the CJPTA.

 

[27] Accordingly, the test remains real and substantial connection which appears to require a straightforward determination of whether, on the facts, a real and substantial connection has been established.

 

[28] Applying Roed, the first connection upon which the plaintiff relies to found jurisdiction – damages suffered within British Columbia – is too tenuous.  The question therefore becomes whether the fact that, since the Alberta accident, the plaintiff has been injured in a second accident which occurred in British Columbia can provide the basis for a finding of jurisdiction.  These circumstances were not addressed in Roed.

 

[29] The parties appear to agree that a global assessment of Ms. Sooparayachetty’s injuries will be required.  I take this to mean that they accept that, in order to assess damages for which the Alberta defendants may be liable, the court will be required to assess “global damages” as of the date of trial in respect of both accidents.  Circumstances relating to the second accident will therefore be considered in the assessment of damages for the first.

 

[30] Section 3(e) of the CJPTA provides that the court has territorial competence if there is a real and substantial connection between British Columbia and the facts on which the proceeding against the defendants is based.  While facts relating to the second accident may have to be canvassed in order to assess Ms. Sooparyachetty’s damages arising from the first accident, the two claims remain separate.  In my view, the circumstances relating to the second accident are not facts upon which the proceedings against these defendants are based, and therefore cannot provide the real and substantial connection required by s. 3(e).  The need to call evidence relating to the second accident in the trial of the first, while an appropriate consideration on the question of forum conveniens (see, for example, Stewart v. Stewart, [1995] 6 W.W.R. 402; 5 B.C.L.R. (3d) 350 (S.C.)), does not confer jurisdiction on this court in relation to the first accident, and Ms. Sooparaychetty’s action arising from it.

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