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CIVIL PROCEDURE - Discovery - Inspection of property - Small claims proceedings

Monday, August 28, 2017 @ 12:37 PM  


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Appeal by the plaintiff from a decision of the Divisional Court finding that Deputy Judges of the Small Claims Court had jurisdiction to order the pre-trial inspection of property in a proper case and that that jurisdiction was properly exercised in the present case. The appellant sought damages for what he alleged were personal injuries caused by the negligent manufacture of an iPhone by the respondent. He claimed that the iPhone overheated and caused severe burns to his right arm. He refused, absent a court order, to permit an independent third party expert to inspect the iPhone prior to trial, at no cost to him, to assist the trial judge in determining the central matter in dispute between the parties.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The Rules of the Small Claims Court did not adequately address the matter of the pre-trial inspection of property. While Rule 17.03 provided for the inspection of property by a trial judge of the Small Claims Court in certain circumstances, they did not adequately address the pre-trial inspection of property at the instance of a litigant. Where trial fairness and the interests of justice, including the expeditious and least expensive determination of a case on the merits, so required, Deputy Court Judges of the Small Claims Court had jurisdiction under Rule 1.03(2) of the Rules of the Small Claims Court to order the pre-trial inspection of property by reference to Rule 32.01 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. The recognition of the authority of Deputy Court Judges of the Small Claims Court to order the pre-trial inspection of property in exceptional circumstances would assist them to fulfil the mandate of the Small Claims Court to hear and determine in a summary way the cases that came before them. Ordering the inspection of the iPhone in this case was completely justified.

Riddell v. Apple Canada Inc., [2017] O.J. No. 3605, Ontario Court of Appeal, J.C. MacPherson, E.A. Cronk and M.L. Benotto JJ.A., July 10, 2017. Digest No. TLD-August282017001