If spouses own any Real Property on separation a value of the real property must be determined. Real Property means any land and buildings and may be the family home, a vacation property or a rental property.
Previously spouses would each retain a certified appraiser to prepare appraisals of all of their real property. The problem that this created was that the appraisals often provided a different value leaving a judge to try to determine which appraisal stated the correct value.
In 2010, the B.C. Supreme Court Family Rules were changed and Rule 13-3(2) now states that spouses must agree on an appraiser and they must jointly retain that appraiser to value the property.
Joint appointment on financial issues
(2) If any party wishes to present to the court expert opinion evidence on a financial issue,
(a) that evidence must be presented to the court by means of a jointly appointed expert unless the court otherwise orders or the parties otherwise agree, and
(b) Rule 13-4 applies.
Rule 13-4 (1) and (2) provides more detail about the nature of the appointment:
Matters to be settled prior to appointment
(1) When an expert is to be jointly appointed by 2 or more parties under Rule 13-3 (2) or (3) (a), the following must be settled before the expert is appointed:
(a) the identity of the expert;
(b) the issue in the family law case the expert opinion evidence may help to resolve;
(c) any facts or assumptions of fact agreed to by the parties;
(d) for each party, any assumptions of fact not included under paragraph (c) of this subrule that the party wishes the expert to consider;
(e) the questions to be considered by the expert;
(f) when the report must be prepared by the expert and given to the parties;
(g) responsibility for fees and expenses payable to the expert.
(2) If the parties agree on the matters referred to in subrule (1), they must enter into a written agreement that reflects those agreed upon matters and
(a) the agreement must be signed by each party to the agreement or their lawyers,
(b) the agreement must be signed by the expert to signify that he or she
(i) has been made aware of the content of this Part, and
(ii) consents to the appointment reflected in the agreement, and
(c) a copy of the agreement must be served, promptly after signing, on every party to the family law case who is not a party to the agreement.
If when the appraisal has been prepared, one spouse does not agree with the valuation they may make an application to the court within 21 days to obtain another appraisal.
Rule 13-4(5), (6) and (7) refers to such an application:
Role of expert appointed under this rule
(5) Unless the court otherwise orders on an application referred to in subrule (6), a joint expert appointed in relation to an issue, by agreement under subrule (2) or by a court order made on an application under subrule (3), is the only expert who may give expert opinion evidence in the family law case on the issue.
Notice of application
(6) A party wishing to apply under subrule (5) for leave to introduce the evidence of an additional expert at trial must, within 21 days after receipt of the joint expert’s report, serve on all parties the documents that under Rule 10-6 (6) are required for the application.
(7) The court may, on an application referred to in subrule (6) of this rule, grant leave for the evidence of an additional expert to be introduced at trial if the court is satisfied that the evidence of that additional expert is necessary to ensure a fair trial.
The letter that we typically send to the appraiser states the following:
The parties wish to retain you to prepare appraisals of the following properties pursuant to Rule 13 of the BC Supreme Court Family Rules:
Rule 13-2 provides that you have a duty to assist the court and you are not to be an advocate for any party. You must include the following certification in your report:
“I am aware of my duty to assist the court and not be an advocate for any party, I have made this report in conformity with that duty and will, if called on to give oral or written testimony, give that testimony in conformity with that duty.”
In addition to including the above certification, your report must be signed by you and contain the following:
- your name, address and area of expertise;
- your qualifications and employment and educational experience in your area of expertise. You may indicate that you are a “duly qualified [description] licensed to practice your professional calling within British Columbia”. You may also include particulars of your education, training, fellowships, specialties, years in practice and type of practice. It may be convenient for you to attach a current Curriculum Vitae to your report;
- the instructions provided to you in relation to the family law case in the joint agreement;
- the nature of the opinion being sought and each issue in the family law case to which the opinion relates;
- your opinion respecting each issue and, if there is a range of opinions given, a summary of the range and the reasons for your own opinion within that range;
- your reasons for your opinion, including:
- a description of the factual assumptions on which your opinion is based. If you wish, you may indicated the relative degree of importance of any particular tact or assumption;
- a description of any research conducted by you that led you to form that opinion, including an account of interviews you have had with the parties or collateral witnesses;
- a list of every document, if any, relied on by you in forming the opinion. You may wish to simply append the list to your report; and
- any other matters you deem significant.
The cost of the appraisals is to be shared equally between the parties and we ask that you invoice each office separately for their one-half share.
Supreme Court Family Rules (B.C. Reg. 169/2009)