Unreasonable Claims Leads to Cost Awards

Tahir Cheema

January 31, 2022

In Calver v. Calver , 2019 ONSC 7317 the judge ordered the wife to pay $81,262.47 to the husband in costs since all but one of the wife’s claims failed and the trial was made unnecessarily complex by the number of unreasonable claims made by the wife. 

The party’s relationship spanned a total of eight years. They were married for four years and lived together for four years before getting married. During this period they bought a dairy farm as a joint venture, the husband bought two properties solely in his name, and the wife unsuccessfully underwent IVF treatments, which she mostly paid for. Tragically the parties suffered the loss of the newborn child.

The wife made claims for unequal division of net family property, unjust enrichment, constructive trust, proprietary estoppel, loss of future income, and compensation for emotional and physical damages. 

However, after nine days of trial the wife was successful only in the claim for unequal division of net family property. All the other claims failed and were not reasonable based on the facts. 

The judge agreed with the husband’s lawyer that the trial could have been done in one and a half days if the wife did not insist on litigating claims that were unreasonable. Since the trial was made unnecessarily longer the judge ordered the wife to pay for the extra days of trial.

Rule 57.01(1) under the Rules of Civil Procedure establishes how cost awards are determined. One factor is the conduct of the parties. The courts consider this very seriously in deciding what are the appropriate costs. If a party acts inappropriately or unreasonably in the conduct of an action such as taking steps that unduly delay the proceeding, bringing motions that are unwarranted, or make it financially difficult for the other side to continue the litigation, then the court can award costs against that party.

The lesson here is to bring forth claims that you have a reasonable chance of winning. Settle where you can, litigate where you must.