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Digest of the week - “$66.94 – How Appeal-ing”

Nova Scotia (Attorney General) v. Jacques Home Town Dry Cleaners
Nova Scotia Court of Appeal
2013 CarswellNS 1

Judgment: January 3, 2013


Transportation | Highways and streets | Maintenance and repair | Duty of Crown | Remedies | Remedies of Crown

Insured's vehicle damaged culvert owned by province — Province repaired culvert and sent invoice to insured's insurer for $669.40 for direct costs of repairing culvert as well as 10 per cent administration fee of $66.94 — Insurer refused to pay $66.94 — Province brought successful application to recover $66.94 — Motion judge found that province satisfied court that $66.94 represented reasonable overhead costs which were not arbitrary or artificial and did not represent markup for profit, that charge was based in recovering costs associated with staff processing transaction through province's financial system, and that $66.94 fee in this case was reasonable overhead charge related to particular claim — Insurer appealed — Appeal dismissed — Although there was no evidence led to explain and justify basis upon which province as matter of policy chose 10 per cent as administration fee to be added to every claim following third-party damage to its property, on unique facts of case, result should not be reversed — Motion judge's factual findings and inferences fell within range that reasonable court could make and ought not to be disturbed — Motion judge's findings were fully supported and were in no way result of palpable and overriding error — Overhead expenses were recoverable as part of cost of effecting repairs to one's damaged property — What saved case from reversal was evidence that certain specific administrative tasks not otherwise budgeted, were in fact undertaken on account of insured's negligence and that administration fee was levied to off-set those overhead expenditures which were added expense — In view of motions judge's findings, it was perfectly reasonable to infer that expense of $66.94 was actually incurred in having to oblige staff to do things described as part of processing this third-party claim — While this particular situation did not call for further evidence as to why province chose 10 per cent, outcome may well have been different had amount of third-party damage been greater.
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