browne j

10.29: General rule for payment of litigation costs
10.31: Court-ordered costs award

Case Summary

Following the Defendant Appellants’ Appeal of a Master’s Decision related to the disclosure of the identity of a journalist’s source in a defamation Action, which Appeal was granted, the Parties sought directions on Costs.

The Respondent law firm submitted that Costs should be in the cause because the issue of journalist-source privilege was an important one to be considered by the Court as there was little Alberta case law. Further, the Respondent argued that although Justice Browne found that the identity of the Appellant’s source was not relevant and material at this stage, it may become relevant and material at or prior to Trial.

Justice Browne confirmed that Rule 10.29 provides the default Rule regarding Costs, which is that the unsuccessful party must pay Costs forthwith. Rule 10.29 is subject to the Court’s discretion to award a reasonable and proper Costs award under Rule 10.31. Justice Browne held that the issue on the Appeal primarily concerned the relevance and materiality of the source, not the application of journalist-source privilege and so rejected the Respondent’s position on that point. Justice Browne held further that it was irrelevant whether the Appellant’s source could become relevant at a later date. The question was irrelevant when it was posed, and at the time of the Appeal. Accordingly, Justice Browne held that there was no basis to depart from the default principles set out in Rule 10.29.

The Respondent was directed to pay the Appellant’s party-and-party Costs, including disbursements, however, Justice Browne reduced the amount payable for printing and printing-related charges by one-half.

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