July 21, 2009

Indigent Status Only Grants Relief from Court Fees - Not Other Appeal Costs

I have written before about applying for indigent status with the courts in order to avoid paying court fees, which for a trial can amount to thousands of dollars. The phrase "indigent status" is a stigmatizing and somewhat misleading name for what is often a simple issue and it is worth noting that the applicant does not in fact need to be indigent or homeless to successfully make an application.

The court applies a two-part test in determining whether to grant indigent status; whether the financial position of the applicant is such that requiring her to pay the fees would deprive her of the necessaries of life or effectively deny her access to the courts and whether there is some merit in the appeal (this test was set out by the B.C. Court of Appeal in Duszynski v. Duszynski).

Now a new decision of the B.C. Court of Appeal, Pavlis v. HSBC Bank Canada, has confirmed that indigent status in the Court of Appeal only permits an appellant to avoid paying court fees. The appellant must still pay the cost of ordering transcripts and preparing an appeal book and appeal record. This is significant because the cost of ordering transcripts is can be enormous. Here is one quote from a transcript company:

$7.50 per page x average of 20 pages per hour of court time = $150 per hour of court time
$150 per hour x 6 hours per court day = $900 per court day

If the trial lasted for several days, the cost of transcripts could amount to thousands of dollars. One way of minimizing this cost may be to reach an agreement with the other party about which extracts of the transcript are really necessary for the appeal, and only order those parts.

1 comment:

  1. Ziolablue@juno.com

    please explain this process to me in debt. Does the indigent status cover filing fees if you have to reopen an existing civil case, such as child custody and or divorce.


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