890 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 76 PART 6 NOVEMBER 2018
found he enjoyed that type of work and it became an increasing part of his
practising life. That led to an ambition to go to the bench and in 1985 he was
appointed to the County Court of New Westminster, from which he later
transferred to the County Court of Vancouver. On the amalgamation of the
County Courts with the Supreme Court he became a member of the latter
court, from which he retired in 2005.
Ian was an exceptionally able judge with a sound knowledge of the law.
He treated everyone in the courtroom with courtesy and patience but with
a confident and decisive manner. All of those qualities were put to the test
in the early 1990s. In January 1992 Drost J. began to hear a trial that occupied
182 days ending in January 1994. There were 22 parties and 28 counsel.
The issues were numerous and surrounded the use of asbestos in a large
commercial building in Vancouver. The trial was fought with ceaseless
tenacity and, on occasion, with ill-disguised asperity between some of the
counsel. Drost J. earned the admiration of all with his adroit handling of not
only the complexities of the trial, but also the occasional outbursts in the
For many years asbestos-related damage claims had grown in the United
States into a significant industry. Numerous decisions adverse to asbestos
companies had been pronounced in the courts in the United States and it
had become virtually assumed, without the need for proof, that the mere
presence of asbestos-based materials in a building posed risks of disease.
The core claim in the trial was that it had been actionable negligence for
asbestos materials to have been placed in the building that was the subject
of the trial. Mr. Justice Drost heard a plethora of witnesses, both lay and
expert, and in a 309-page judgment dismissed the action.
Mr. Justice Drost ruled that although he was aware of the numerous decisions
of the courts in the United States to the effect that the product in issue
in the case before him was known to be dangerous, the evidence before him
did not bear out that conclusion. The decision was courageous. Apart from
his many other fine qualities Ian did not lack courage. The dismissal of the
action had the collateral effect of bringing to an end similar litigation in
British Columbia. Some counsel, who were instructed by clients to defend
those actions, perhaps would have preferred that Drost J. had been less
endowed with courage. An appeal from his judgment was dismissed.
On his retirement from the bench, Ian and his wife of almost 60 years,
Catherine, moved from West Vancouver to a home they built on St. Mary
Lake, Salt Spring Island. They moved to Victoria in the early spring of 2017.
For Catherine, their three children (John, Anne and Helen) and their three
grandchildren (Emma, Audrey and Flora), Ian’s death has been a great loss.