In Mercantile Office Systems Private Limited v. Worldwide Warranty Life Services Inc., 2021 BCCA 362, the BC Court of Appeal struck a Response and Counterclaim for failing to comply with the mandatory requirements of the Rules and frustrating the objectives of proper pleadings.
In doing so, the Court held that two common pleadings practices in BC do not comply with the Rules:
- the facts section of a Counterclaim should not merely refer to and adopt the fact section of a Response to Civil Claim; and
- the facts section of a Response to Civil Claim should not be an overall factual narrative. It must be limited to material facts, and differentiate between which facts are the defendant’s “version of the facts” as opposed to “additional facts”.
The Court explained that the overall objective of pleadings is not to tell a story but to state the material facts – the essential elements to formulate a claim or defence – as concisely as possible.
Mercantile is a helpful (if stern) reminder to the BC litigation bar of the importance of keeping in mind the purpose of pleadings as well as the technical requirements set out in the Rules. Failure to do so can have real consequences: several recent BC Supreme Court decisions have struck pleadings on the authority of Mercantile.