In a British Columbia Court of Appeal decision, a condo owner’s appeal of a special costs awarded against her was dismissed in a case where she alleged that a neighbour had vandalized her car.
She is now seeking leave to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Condo Owner Alleges Car “Egging” by Neighbour
A British Columbia condo owner (the “owner”) alleged that a fellow resident (the “neighbour”) had vandalized her car by “egging” it and pounding nails or screws into two of its tires in 2017.
The owner had previously been engaged in numerous disputes with her strata council (the “council”) and the neighbour. She wanted the council to post a notice describing the vandalism and the neighbour’s alleged responsibility for it within her condominium development.
However, the council refused.
Owner Brings Legal Claim Against Neighbour and Council
Subsequently, the owner brought a claim to the Civil Resolution Tribunal (“CRT”).
In her claim, she asked the CRT to order the council to post the incidents of the car vandalism by the neighbour in the public areas of the buildings. She also sought damages for emotional pain and suffering from the council and the neighbour in the amount of $50,000. Finally, she asked that the council reimburse her for tire repairs in the amount of $56.
In response, the neighbour denied vandalizing the owner’s car or having any knowledge of the incident.
CRT Dismisses Owner’s Case
Ultimately, the CRT dismissed the owner’s case in its entirety.
With regards to the alleged vandalism, it found that the owner lacked credibility in her testimony and dismissed the claim against the neighbour. Additionally, the CRT rejected the owner’s argument that the council had an obligation to post public notices about alleged criminal activity and dismissed her claim against it.
Finally, the CRT refused to award the owner damages for pain and suffering because she had failed to prove that the neighbour committed vandalism and because it found that the council had not acted unfairly towards her.
The owner sought leave to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of British Columbia, which was denied.
Registrar Orders Owner to Pay Special Costs to Neighbour
On the appeal, the neighbour sought special costs against the owner on the grounds that she had made, and continued to make,“bald accusations of misconduct” that were reprehensible and deserving of rebuke. The court agreed and awarded special costs to the neighbour. Special costs, as opposed to regular costs, are only awarded where a court finds a party’s conduct especially egregious.
The amount of the special costs was referred to the registrar. After reviewing the facts and legal framework, the registrar noted that the owner had “unnecessarily prolonged these proceedings” and that the neighbour had been “entirely successful” in the appeal.
In the result, the Registrar assessed costs in the total amount of $33,421 against the owner.
The owner appealed to the British Columbia Court of Appeal.
Court of Appeal Dismisses Owner’s Special Costs Appeal
At the outset, the court found no error in the registrar’s assessment of costs and found no merit to the owner’s grounds of appeal. It further stated:
“There was ample evidence of [the owner]’s conduct in the course of litigation that was deserving of rebuke. […]
[The owner] has been relentless in her pursuit of the strata corporation and [the neighbour]. She has been unsuccessful at every step of the way, and continues to bring frivolous arguments on the costs application that have been previously dismissed by this Court.”
In the result, the court therefore dismissed the owner’s appeal.
On July 29, 2021, the owner applied for leave to appeal the decision from the Supreme Court of Canada. Its decision on whether to hear the appeal is outstanding.
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