COURT CASES on STRIKING PLEADINGS
Whether it be a Notice of Civil Claim, a Response, a Third Party Notice, or other pleadings, occasionally during ICBC claims it is the case that applications will be brought by a Plaintiff’s lawyer, ICBC’S lawyer, or another lawyer to strike the pleading in question. The effect of this is that the court can pronounce judgment, or order the proceeding to be stayed or dismissed.
In R v. Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd., the Supreme Court of Canada set out the test to considered by the courts when dealing with an application to strike a pleading under Rule 9-5 of the British Columbia Supreme Court Civil Rules.
 The parties agree on the test applicable on a motion to strike for not disclosing a reasonable cause of action under r. 19(24)(a) of the B.C. Supreme Court Rules. This Court has reiterated the test on many occasions. A claim will only be struck if it is plain and obvious, assuming the facts pleaded to be true, that the pleading discloses no reasonable cause of action: Odhavji Estate v. Woodhouse, 2003 SCC 69,  3 S.C.R. 263, at para. 15; Hunt v. Carey Canada Inc.,  2 S.C.R. 959, at p. 980. Another way of putting the test is that the claim has no reasonable prospect of success. Where a reasonable prospect of success exists, the matter should be allowed to proceed to trial: see, generally, Syl Apps Secure Treatment Centre v. B.D., 2007 SCC 38,  3 S.C.R. 83; Odhavji Estate; Hunt; Attorney General of Canada v. Inuit Tapirisat of Canada,  2 S.C.R. 735.
 Although all agree on the test, the arguments before us revealed different conceptions about how it should be applied. It may therefore be useful to review the purpose of the test and its application.
 The power to strike out claims that have no reasonable prospect of success is a valuable housekeeping measure essential to effective and fair litigation. It unclutters the proceedings, weeding out the hopeless claims and ensuring that those that have some chance of success go on to trial.
 This promotes two goods — efficiency in the conduct of the litigation and correct results. Striking out claims that have no reasonable prospect of success promotes litigation efficiency, reducing time and cost. The litigants can focus on serious claims, without devoting days and sometimes weeks of evidence and argument to claims that are in any event hopeless. The same applies to judges and juries, whose attention is focused where it should be — on claims that have a reasonable chance of success. The efficiency gained by weeding out unmeritorious claims in turn contributes to better justice. The more the evidence and arguments are trained on the real issues, the more likely it is that the trial process will successfully come to grips with the parties’ respective positions on those issues and the merits of the case.
 Valuable as it is, the motion to strike is a tool that must be used with care. The law is not static and unchanging. Actions that yesterday were deemed hopeless may tomorrow succeed. Before Donoghue v. Stevenson,  A.C. 562 (H.L.) introduced a general duty of care to one’s neighbour premised on foreseeability, few would have predicted that, absent a contractual relationship, a bottling company could be held liable for physical injury and emotional trauma resulting from a snail in a bottle of ginger beer. Before Hedley Byrne & Co. v. Heller & Partners, Ltd.,  2 All E.R. 575 (H.L.), a tort action for negligent misstatement would have been regarded as incapable of success. The history of our law reveals that often new developments in the law first surface on motions to strike or similar preliminary motions, like the one at issue in Donoghue v. Stevenson. Therefore, on a motion to strike, it is not determinative that the law has not yet recognized the particular claim. The court must rather ask whether, assuming the facts pleaded are true, there is a reasonable prospect that the claim will succeed. The approach must be generous and err on the side of permitting a novel but arguable claim to proceed to trial.
 A motion to strike for failure to disclose a reasonable cause of action proceeds on the basis that the facts pleaded are true, unless they are manifestly incapable of being proven: Operation Dismantle Inc. v. The Queen,  1 S.C.R. 441, at p. 455. No evidence is admissible on such a motion: r. 19(27) of the Supreme Court Rules (now r. 9-5(2) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules). It is incumbent on the claimant to clearly plead the facts upon which it relies in making its claim. A claimant is not entitled to rely on the possibility that new facts may turn up as the case progresses. The claimant may not be in a position to prove the facts pleaded at the time of the motion. It may only hope to be able to prove them. But plead them it must. The facts pleaded are the firm basis upon which the possibility of success of the claim must be evaluated. If they are not pleaded, the exercise cannot be properly conducted.