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Kore v. Niagara South Condominium Corporation No. 12 - 2022 ONCAT 19 - 2022-03-16

Corporation:

KNSCC 12

Date:

2022-03-16

Under:

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

Summary:

In Kore v Niagara South Condominium Corporation No 12, the applicant requested copies of two legal invoices related to the hosting of the condominium's 2020 Annual General Meeting (AGM). The condominium corporation, NSCC 12, refused to provide the invoices, claiming solicitor-client privilege. The applicant argued that he was entitled to the invoices to understand the costs associated with the virtual AGM and make informed decisions about future virtual meetings. The tribunal determined that the applicant was entitled to the invoices with certain redactions, as the exemption claimed by NSCC 12 did not apply under the Condominium Act. However, NSCC 12 was allowed to charge a reasonable fee for the production of the records. The tribunal also ruled that NSCC 12 was not liable for penalties as their refusal to provide the records was deemed reasonable.

Verdict:

The applicant was entitled to receive copies of two legal invoices related to a condominium corporation's Annual General Meeting (AGM). However, the tribunal allowed the corporation to redact certain information and imposed a reasonable fee for providing the records. The corporation was found not liable for penalties as their reasons for refusing to provide the records were deemed reasonable. The lesson from this case is that condominium corporations may be required to provide certain records to unit owners, even if the corporation claims solicitor-client privilege, but they may have the right to redact privileged information and charge a reasonable fee for document production.

Takeaways:

Access to Records: The tribunal determined that the applicant was entitled to receive copies of two legal invoices related to the condominium corporation's 2020 Annual General Meeting (AGM). Despite the respondent, Niagara South Condominium Corporation No 12, claiming solicitor-client privilege, the tribunal found that this exemption did not apply under the Condominium Act.

Redactions and Reasonable Fee: While the applicant was granted access to the invoices, the tribunal allowed the respondent to redact certain information deemed privileged. Additionally, the condominium corporation was permitted to charge a reasonable fee for providing the requested records.

No Liability for Penalties: The tribunal ruled that Niagara South Condominium Corporation No 12 was not liable to pay the maximum penalty of $5,000 for refusing to provide the records without a reasonable excuse. The tribunal deemed the reasons provided by the corporation for their refusal as reasonable, resulting in the corporation being exempt from penalties.

Recommendations: 

Clarify Solicitor-Client Privilege: In order to avoid disputes over solicitor-client privilege, condominium corporations should clearly define and communicate the scope and limitations of this privilege to unit owners. Providing clear guidelines on what types of records may be subject to solicitor-client privilege can help prevent misunderstandings and potential conflicts.

Improve Transparency: Condominium corporations should strive to enhance transparency and provide detailed breakdowns of expenses, especially for significant events like Annual General Meetings (AGMs). Providing itemized breakdowns of legal costs associated with events such as AGMs can help owners understand and assess the financial implications of such activities and promote trust between the corporation and its unit owners.

Implement Reasonable Fee Structure: Condominium corporations should establish a reasonable fee structure for providing requested records. While it is reasonable for corporations to charge fees to cover administrative costs, it is important to ensure that the fees are justified and proportionate to the work involved in providing the records. A clear and fair fee structure would help prevent disputes and maintain positive relationships between the corporation and unit owners.

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