Renewal of Wills Variation Claim Not Served In Time

Renewal of Wills Variation Claim Not Served In Time

Rodgers v Rodgers Estate 2017 BCSC 518 dealt with an application for a  renewal  court proceedings in a wills variation claim under S 61 WESA that states in 61 ( B) that the proceeding must be served on the executor of the will no later than 30 days after the expiry of the 180 days after the representation grant ( probate) has been issued.

The plaintiff also claimed other relief that was improperly pleaded and 30 days was granted to the plaintiff to bring on an application to amend the pleadings.

The Court in Rodgers stated with respect to the renewal of an action to effect service under s 61 WESA:

22      The court has no jurisdiction to hear the wills variation action if it is not commenced within 180 days from the date the representation grant is issued in British Columbia. The court does have discretion to grant leave to extend the time for service under s. 61(1)(b).

The deadline for service is no later than 30 days after the expiry of the 180 day period referred to in s. 61(1)(a).

23      Counsel for the executor equates the extension of the time for service of a wills variation notice of civil claim to an application for a renewal of a writ. This comparison makes logical sense to me given that, in both scenarios the notice of civil claim or writ expires if it is not served within the proscribed time period. 

24      When hearing an application for renewal of a writ the authorities rely on the test set out in Bearhead v. Moorhouse, (1977) 3 B.C.L.R. 81 (B.C.S.C.) aff’d (1978) 5 B.C.L.R. 380 (CA) (B.C.C.A.):

1. Was the application brought promptly?

2. Did the defendant have notice of the claim from sources other than the writ?

3. Has the defendant suffered prejudice?

4. Was the failure to serve the writ attributable to actions of the defendant? and

5. Was the plaintiff or solicitor at fault?

25      In Seeliger v. Eagle Ridge Hospital, 2007 BCCA 582, the British Columbia Court of Appeal said that it is inappropriate to have an in-depth review of the merits of the case on a renewal application but that the plaintiff is required to demonstrate that the pleadings disclose a cause of action.

If a defendant can make out a case that the action has no hope of success and is bound to fail, then the interest of justice support refusing application on those grounds.

The burden is on the defendant to prove that it is plain and obvious that the action has no merit and is bound to fail.

The Court granted an additional 30 days to serve the court process on the executor.

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