In Cain v. Peterson, Superior Court Justice Michael Dambrot has awarded costs of $10,000 to a self-represented defendant. After dismissing an action against Shelley Peterson (not, we assume, the spouse of former Ontario premier, David Peterson), Justice Dambrot first ordered the plaintiff to pay $35,000 to Ms. Peterson for legal fees that she had incurred before the trial began. He then addressed the issue of compensating Ms. Peterson for her own preparation and conduct of the trial.
His Honour ruled that, by having to participate in the trial, Ms. Peterson had suffered an “opportunity cost by foregoing remunerative activity” and that this warranted an award of costs for the trial even though, as a party, she would have been present at the trial anyway.
In what can only be viewed (by lawyers, anyway) as an alarming development, Justice Dambrot said, “Ms. Peterson conducted this trial on her own behalf with remarkable skill for a lay person. She was well prepared, well organized, reasonably knowledgeable about the legal issues and unfailingly polite. The quality of her presentation was of great assistance to me in resolving the issues in this case.”
Next thing you know, the judges will be applying these standards to lawyers…