When faced with a lien, the response of many owners is to take the position that they do not have to pay (and are entitled to a partial refund) because of deficiencies with the work.  Sometimes this is genuine, and sometimes it isn't.  Just as there are bad contractors out there, there are also difficult owners with exceedingly high expectations and little flexibility.  These types of claims are frequent enough, that there are a few red flags that will suggest when a deficiency claim is genuine.  With the help of the recent case of Lido v. Joy, 2012 ONSC 5058, here are a few examples.

 

Breach of trust claims under the Construction Lien Act are often litigated in a vacuum, where important financial records have gone missing or never existed.  This means that technical legal points, such as who bears the onus of proof, can make or break a construction trust claim.  The Ontario Court of Appeal, in its decision released today in Belmont Concrete Finishing Co. Limited v. Marshall, 2012 ONCA 585, demonstrates one of the tricks to keep in mind when litigating a trust claim.

 

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Summary Judgment Motions by the Numbers

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Summary judgment motions have been a topic of great interest over the last few years, with a change in the Rules regarding summary judgment, and the release of the Combined Air decision late last year.  Lawyers are starting to look back at the practical effects of the new summary judgment approach (see this article from this week's Lawyer's Weekly), so I thought it may be a good time to look at some hard numbers for the current year.  As discussed below, the numbers show that roughly 50% of reported summary judgment motions are successful in 2012, although it really depends on what's at issue on the motion.

 

What happens when a Texan goes to Russia, swears an Affidavit in front of an Ontario lawyer, and the affidavit is filed with a British Columbia court?  According to the recent decision of the British Columbia Court of Appeal in Environmental Packaging Technologies, Ltd. v. Rudjuk, 2012 BCCA 342, bad things happen to the party relying on the affidavit.  While this is a relatively technical issue, it is important to be aware of when dealing with international litigation.

 

Badly written contracts can be an endless source of litigation.  Although contracts are meant to clarify arrangements, if they are unclear they can result in lengthy trials where the parties fight about what the contract was really supposed to mean.  And a few judges on the Alberta Court of Appeal are clearly quite sick of this.  The decision in Ko v. Hillview Homes Ltd., 2012 ABCA 245, released this week, is a scathing look at trial courts letting this practice get out of control, and rewriting the terms of contracts.

 

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Domain Names and Passing Off Claims

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The law surrounding the use (and misuse) of domain names has come a long way since the internet first became popular.  This, combined with dispute resolution procedures such as the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute Resolution Policy, has brought some small degree of order to the use of domain names.  But with new "generic top level domains" (the suffix part of the domain name, such as .com or .ca) coming online soon, we may be looking at another wave of cybersquatting and domain theft type issues.  The recent decision in Dentec Safety Specialists Inc. v. Degil Safety Products Inc., 2012 ONSC 4721 provides a nice summary of one remedy for the misuse of a domain name.

 

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When the Dispute Spirals Out of Control

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I've talked in the past about the cost of litigation.  While litigation isn't cheap, if you approach it strategically you can at least keep the expense to a minimum, and hopefully recover some of the costs from the other party if you're successful.  But if you want to pull out all the stops, and fight about the "principle"1 of a case at all costs, that's when costs skyrocket.  Here's a great example where the clients/litigants are lawyers, and the litigation appears to spiral out of control: Bennett v. Cunningham, 2012 ONCA 540.

 

There are various types of injunctions that courts can grant, many of which have fancy sounding names.  One of the best sounding names is the "anti-suit injunction".  Despite it's catchy name, it's a rarely used, and frankly, not nearly as exciting as something like an Anton Piller Order (you can't beat the element of surprise, along with the presence of police officers, for excitement value).  Given its rarity, it is interesting though when a new anti-suit injunction case comes along, like in the Agemian v. Pactiv LLC, 2012 ONSC 4571 case discussed below.

 


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