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Pachai v. Metropolitan Toronto Condominium Corporation No. 850 - 2023 ONCAT 137 - 2023-09-26

Corporation:

PMTCC 850

Date:

2023-09-26

Under:

CAT Decisions - Decision
Access to Records
Adequacy of Records
Compliance with Settlement Agreement
Entitlement to Records
Fees, Costs, Penalties
Records Retention

Summary:

In the case of Pachai v. Metropolitan Toronto Condominium Corporation No. 850, a unit owner, requested access to specific records from Metropolitan Toronto Condominium Corporation No. 850 (MTCC850) related to litigation against the City of Toronto, a hotel operator, and a non-profit shelter operator. The records requested included a Statement of Claim, Statements of Defence, and future motion materials. MTCC850 denied her access, citing potential privileges and discretionary authority under the Condominium Act, 1998. The Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) ruled in favor of the unit owner, ordering the disclosure of certain records and reimbursement of her application fees. However, other requests for penalties, director training, and distribution of the decision to owners were not granted.

Verdict:

In the case of Pachai v. Metropolitan Toronto Condominium Corporation No. 850, the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) ordered that MTCC850 must provide the unit owner with copies of the Claim and the Defenses within 10 business days of the decision. Additionally, MTCC850 was required to reimburse her $200 application fees. The CAT found that the unit owner was entitled to access these records, as they were not subject to common law privileges, and the openness principle of the Condominium Act, 1998 supported disclosure, considering they were public documents. However, the CAT did not order penalties, further training for directors, or the distribution of the decision to owners.

Takeaways:

Here are 5 takeaways from the case of Pachai v. Metropolitan Toronto Condominium Corporation No. 850 (2023 ONCAT 137):

Background: The case involves a unit owner in Metropolitan Toronto Condominium Corporation No. 850 (MTCC850). MTCC850 sought to sue multiple parties to recover security costs associated with a shelter for homeless people located near the condominium. The unit owner requested copies of the Statement of Claim and Statements of Defence related to this litigation but was denied access.

Common Law Privileges: The case addresses the common law litigation privilege and solicitor/client privilege. These privileges are generally applied to protect confidential communications and relationships between lawyers and clients. However, the records requested in this case, being public court documents, were not subject to these privileges.

Open Book Principle: The Condominium Act, 1998, emphasizes transparency in condominium affairs and provides unit owners with broad access to condominium records. This openness principle supports granting access to records unless specific exceptions apply.

Discretion and Denial: MTCC850 had exercised its discretion under the Act to deny the unit owner access to the requested records, citing exceptions related to ongoing or contemplated litigation. However, the records at issue in this case were not confidential, and their release would not cause any hardship for the condominium. This denial of access was found to be unreasonable.

Costs and Remedies: The case did not result in a penalty against MTCC850 for its refusal to provide the records, as the denial was deemed to have a reasonable excuse. However, the unit owner was granted reimbursement for her $200 application fees. The orders required MTCC850 to provide her with the requested records and reimburse her fees.

These takeaways provide insights into the case's key issues, including the application of common law privileges, the open book principle in the Condominium Act, and the exercise of discretion by condominium corporations in granting access to records.

Recommendations: 

Transparency and Open Communication: Encourage condominium corporations to prioritize transparency and open communication with unit owners, especially when it comes to matters of significant importance, such as legal actions or financial decisions. Providing regular updates, explanations, and access to relevant documents can help maintain a harmonious relationship between the corporation and the owners.

Awareness of Condominium Records Obligations: Ensure that both condominium boards and unit owners are well-informed about their rights and obligations concerning condominium records, as outlined in the Condominium Act, 1998. This knowledge should encompass the types of records accessible to owners, the procedures for requesting records, and the circumstances under which a corporation can exercise discretion.

Condominium Board Training: Encourage condominium boards and their directors to undergo regular training and education, not only on general board responsibilities but also on specific aspects such as record requests. Training should focus on fostering a better understanding of the Condominium Act, relevant regulations, and best practices for communication and transparency. This will help ensure that boards make informed decisions that align with the legal framework and the best interests of unit owners.

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