Confusion Over Names

The confusion of the names of cases, what used to be called their “styles of cause”, is distressingly common. There is a recent decision of the British Columbia Court of Appeal called by CanLII, Poole v. Lombard General Insurance Company of Canada, 2012 BCCA 434, called by the D.L.R., Danicek v. Alexander Holburn Beaudin & Lang, 356 D.L.R. (4th) 710. Not one party is common to both reports of the case. CanLII notes the “Related Decisions” as (i) Court of Appeal, Danicek v. Poole, 2012 BCCA 65 (CanLII) – 2012-02-09, and (ii) Supreme Court of British Columbia, Danicek v. Alexander Holburn Beaudin & Lang, 2011 BCSC 1375 (CanLII) – 2011-10-14, Danicek v. Li, 2011 BCSC 444 (CanLII) – 2011-04-11, Danicek v. Alexander Holburn Beaudin & Lang, 2011 BCSC 65 (CanLII) – 2011-01-21, Danicek v. Alexander Holburn Beaudin & Lang, 2010 BCSC 1111 (CanLII) – 2010-08-09.

Lest I be seen as criticizing CanLII, I point out that in the report of the case on the Court of Appeal’s own website, the style of cause is the same as CanLII’s. That report notes the decision appealed from as Danicek v. Alexander Holburn Beaudin & Lang, 2011 BCSC 65.

A QL search finds two separate results of a search for 2012 BCCA 434, one under the style of cause of the Court of Appeal, [2012] I.L.R. I-5353. and one under the style of cause of the D.L.R.’s, [2012] B.C.J. No. 2257.

The litigation was very complex. The original plaintiff, Ms. Danicek, had been injured when the personal defendant, Mr. Poole fell on her at a dance. Ms. Danicek sued the defendant, the law firm where she was a student, and Mr. Poole was an associate. The law firm brought in its insurer, Lombard. Ms. Danicek was subsequently further injured in a motor vehicle accident for which the Li’s admitted liability. Ms. Danicek’s action against the firm and Mr. Poole was consolidated with her action against the Li’s, so that her damages could be dealt with in one action. (There was another insurer involved but it never reached a style of cause.) The first Court of Appeal hearing dealt only with the question whether Ms. Danicek could appeal certain costs awards against her in her actions against the firm and the Li’s.

Yes, by the time the case had reached the Court of Appeal the second time, the original plaintiff had no interest in the litigation — she and Mr. Poole had settled, and the action again the Li’s has been resolved — and the fight was between Mr. Poole and the firm’s insurer. In that sense, the Court of Appeal and the CanLII style of cause reflects the actual parties adverse in interest, the actual appellant and respondent..

An action cannot be started in the Court of Appeal; the only matter than can come before a court of appeal in an action is an appeal from a another court. That action will have had a style of cause and it should not be abandoned when the appeal is reported, regardless of the actual parties then alone adverse in interest. A change like this can easily make research more tedious or more haphazard than had the same style of cause been carried through all levels of the courts and I cannot understand why the Court of Appeal would do what it did. The report in 356 D.L.R. (4th) 710, while conserving the style of cause from the British Columbia Supreme Court, makes no mention of the Court of Appeal’s own style of cause.


  1. Melanie Bueckert

    It doesn’t appear as though this issue is currently addressed by the Canadian Citation Committee Case Naming Guidelines. Should it be?