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Action Dismissed in Veritas v Energulf

What is justice How long a delay is too long where a party thwarts discovery of triable issues and holding a fair trial is actually prejudiced?

On April 11, 2013, in Veritas Geophysical (Nigeria) Limited v. Energulf Resources Inc., 2013 BCSC 630, the BC Supreme Court dismissed an action with costs on grounds of want of prosecution.  Robert D. Holmes, Q.C., was the successful counsel for the applicant Defendant Energulf Resources Inc.

The case started in 2006 and related to claims arising from exploration for oil and gas offshore Nigeria.  The Plaintiff did not prosecute it diligently and refused to cooperate in discovery processes.  Instead, the Plaintiff sought in 2010 to have the case decided summarily.  The BC Supreme Court rejected the Plaintiff’s summary judgment application, finding triable issues in Energulf’s defence and counterclaim.

The defence had pleaded that the contract with the Plaintiff had been frustrated by actions of the government and that the Plaintiff was responsible for those actions because it was in a joint venture/partnership with the government.  After that ruling, the Plaintiff allowed the case to become dormant for years more.

The court found that as a result, there was “serious actual prejudice to the defendant’s ability to achieve a fair trial” and dismissed the action.

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