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Anderson v. Niagara South Condominium Corporation No. 12 - 2022 ONCAT 28 - 2022-04-06

Corporation:

ANSCC 12

Date:

2022-04-06

Under:

CAT Decisions - Decision
Entitlement to Records
Fees, Costs, Penalties

Summary:

The case "Anderson v Niagara South Condominium Corporation No 12" involved a dispute over the applicant's request for copies of invoices paid by the respondent to a law firm. The respondent claimed solicitor-client privilege as the reason for denying the request. The Condominium Authority Tribunal ruled that the applicant was entitled to redacted versions of the invoices and that the respondent could charge a fee for producing these records. However, the respondent was not liable to pay a penalty as their reason for refusing the records was deemed reasonable. The decision explored the waiver of solicitor-client privilege and emphasized the importance of specific and clear communication in determining whether privilege had been waived.

Verdict:

the quick verdict from the case "Anderson v Niagara South Condominium Corporation No 12" is that the applicant is entitled to redacted versions of the invoices from SmithValeriote Law Firm LLP. The respondent, Niagara South Condominium Corporation No 12, claimed solicitor-client privilege as the reason for denying the request, but the Condominium Authority Tribunal found that the privilege had not been waived and ruled in favor of the applicant. The lesson from this case is that solicitor-client privilege can protect confidentiality, but it is not an absolute right and can be waived under specific circumstances, and owners have the right to access records, subject to exceptions under the Condominium Act.

Takeaways:

Understanding Solicitor-Client Privilege: The case highlights the concept of solicitor-client privilege and its application in the context of condominium corporations. Condominium corporations and their counsel have the right to assert solicitor-client privilege and refuse to disclose confidential information. However, the decision emphasizes the importance of specific communication and the potential waiver of privilege.

Open Book Principle: The open book principle allows condominium owners to review the financial records of their condo. While the case recognizes the importance of solicitor-client privilege, it also highlights that it is not an absolute right and the open book principle can still be used to access financial records.

Entitlement to Records: The decision also clarifies that owners in condominium corporations are entitled to copies of records, subject to exceptions under the Condominium Act 1998. Condominium corporations must provide notice and reasons for refusing a request for records, and owners have the right to seek an order for the release of records and reimbursement of fees if their request was unreasonably refused.

Recommendations: 

Ensure Quorum in Governance: Condominium corporations should diligently maintain a quorum within their boards of directors to enable them to take necessary actions, including initiating legal proceedings. Regular training for directors and adherence to bylaws can help avoid such issues.

Legal Review of Past Decisions: Before initiating legal actions, it's essential to review any past legal decisions or judgments that may have addressed similar issues. This review can help assess whether the matter has already been decided and may not be worth pursuing further.

Alternative Dispute Resolution: Encourage parties involved in condominium disputes to consider alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation and negotiation, before resorting to legal proceedings. This can promote efficient and amicable conflict resolution.

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