Thursday, January 23, 2014

We're moving!

Alex Pickering van
Thinking About Conflict & Value has a new home.  After months of thinking and planning, I decided to integrate this blog with the website for my work as a mediator and consultant.  You'll find the new site at  The new site has all of the content of this blog, plus easier ways to follow, such as a simple email subscription.

Thank you everyone, for following, reading and commenting.  I hope you'll visit me at the new site and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Condo Law Digest - January 2014

Birdhouse (5494542157)
Peel Condominium Corp. No. 98 v. Pereira, 2013 ONSC 7340
Decision Date: November 28, 2013

Mr. Pereira has been the owner of a unit in the condominium since 2001.  Since 2003 he has been accused of repeatedly violating section 117 of the Condominium Act (which prohibits activity likely to damage property or cause injury), with more serious incidents occurring after 2010.  Specific complaints against him include that he conducted car repairs in the underground garage, that he made defamatory postings on a website, that he threw cat feces and cat litter from his balcony, that he assaulted a former employee of the corporation (criminal charges were laid and withdrawn after he entered into a Peace Bond), that he transferred a bench from the lobby to the tenant workshop, and that he threatened and used extremely crude language when interacting with staff and other residents.  Some of the accusations were supported by sworn affidavits.

The corporation asked that Mr. Pereira be required to sell and vacate his unit within 6 months and that he remove any animal from his unit within ten days.  Justice Donohue found that while Mr. Pereira had acted in an  “inappropriate and abusive manner” and his actions were “extremely serious and troubling” a forced sale of his unit would be too severe a sanction.  Instead the court ordered him to comply with all provisions of the Condominium Act and with the rules, declaration and by-laws of the corporation.

Comment: Justice Donohue quoted the ruling in York Condominium Corporation No. 136 v. Roth according to which an order of forced sale is “extraordinary relief” and “draconian.”

Welch v. Peel Standard Condominium Corp. No. 755, 2013 ONSC 7611
Decision Date: December 10. 2013

In February 2008 Mr. Welch, a resident of the condominium corporation, slipped and fell on an icy sidewalk within the common area of the facility and injured his back. In November 2008 an associate with the law firm retained by Mr. Welch spoke with the adjuster assigned to the case, asked if there were any other maintenance companies involved, and was told that there were not.  (This conversation was confirmed by a handwritten note.) In September 2009 plaintiff counsel placed the corporation and the property management company on notice.  Examinations for discovery were scheduled for June 2010 but did not go ahead because defense counsel were informed by their clients that they had contracted with a maintenance company, Forest Contractors, at the time of Mr. Welch’s injury.  All counsel involved agreed that the plaintiff would add Forest as a defendant.  Mr. Welch’s lawyer provided a draft amended statement of claim in November 2010.  The defendants did not provide their consent until April 2011, and the plaintiffs issued the claim against Forest at the end of August 2011.  The condominium corporation and property management company then cross-claimed against Forest Contractors.

In this action, Forest Contractors brought a motion for summary judgment to dismiss both the plaintiff’s claim and the cross-claim, on the grounds that they exceed the two year limitation period.  They argued that the plaintiff’s limitation period expired in February 2010 and the limitation period for the cross-claim expired in September 2011, two years after they were served with the statement of claim.  Justice Baltman found that the issue of whether the plaintiff had made adequate efforts to learn about Forest Contractors’ involvement before June 2010 could not be resolved on a summary judgment motion.  However he allowed the motion against the condominium corporation and the property management company.

A follow-up to an earlier case:

In the June 2013 Digest I summarized York Condominium Corporation No. 62 v. Superior Energy Management Gas L.P., 2013 ONCA 789.  An appeal was dismissed in December 2013.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Domestic Violence - New Post at

Nautilus is a new science magazine with a different focus each issue.  Their latest focus is "Home,"  and you'll find great articles on a wide variety of topics related to homes.  You can also find my contribution: Not so Sweet Home: The Persistence of Domestic Violence.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Condo Law Digest – December 2013

#659 高蹺入列 Line Up!Stanley Gordon v. York Region Condominium Corporation No. 818, Ed Rotman, Ahsan Zaiyouna, Harold Davis, Eugene Katz & Manfred Kapp
Decision Date:  August 21, 2013
Text of Ruling:
Judgment on Costs:

Mr. Gordon, together with the named defendants, are members of the Board of Directors of York Region CC No. 818.  The corporation’s by-laws contain a provision that a Director may be removed if he or she violates the Director’s Code of Ethics on three occasions over the course of a term.  The by-laws also contain a procedure for an ethics review. In November 2011 Mr. Gordon was accused of breaching the standard of care of a corporate director and of failing to act honestly and was removed as Director following an ethics review.  Mr. Gordon asked the court 1) to have his disqualification as Director to be declared invalid; 2) to have the by-law declared contrary to section 33 of the Condominium Act and therefore invalid; 3) to be re-instated as Director; and 4) other relief.  The Respondents brought a counter-application asking for 1) a declaration that the by-law is valid; 2) a declaration that Mr. Gordon’s removal from the Board be upheld; 3) an order upholding the determination of the ethics review; or failing that 4) a finding (on the evidence before the court) that Mr. Gordon breached the standard of care of a corporate director.

Judge McCarthy ruled that while the by-law was acceptable and not contrary to the Condominium Act, the ethics review conducted by the Board did not conform to minimal standards of procedural fairness or natural justice.  Rather, it was “plain and obvious” that one of the Directors was seeking to unite the others in removing Mr. Gordon.  The judge set aside the disqualification but declined to re-instate Mr. Gordon.  The Board is at liberty to conduct a fresh ethics review within 90 days.

Comment:  I’ve written about some of these issues before, in the context of Bill 168 and workplace investigations: How to Write a Code of Conduct, Investigating Complaints under your Policy, and Investigations Gone Wrong.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Asking for an Apology (Part 2)

Title: Could you be a little more specific?One of the most popular posts on this blog is one I wrote more than two years ago, about asking for an apology.  At least once a day, someone somewhere searches for the phrase “asking for an apology” or “how to ask for an apology” and finds my post.

Unfortunately, some who find the post will be disappointed because I do not actually explain how to ask for an apology.  So I decided to remedy that today.

First, a disclaimer:  I do not believe that those people searching for “how to ask for an apology” are searching for the right thing.  Asking for an apology is actually pretty easy.  “You owe me an apology” will do it.  The harder part – the part that people really need help with – is in telling someone else why they owe you an apology.  And that is what I want to help with.

  1.  Raise your concern about a specific act or specific pattern of behaviour.  “You were an hour late meeting me” or “The last three times we’ve arranged to meet, you’ve been very late.”  Do not say something like:  “You are always late” or “Why can’t you get it together and be on time?”  Also resist attacking the person’s character:  “You don’t care about anyone but yourself!”
  2. Tell the person how their actions effect you:  “When you are late to meet me, I feel like you don’t care about my time” or “I feel frustrated if I don’t know when you will arrive and I have to wait.”
  3. Then pause.  Give the other person a chance to say something.  Maybe he or she will take the opportunity to apologize.  Maybe not.  Unfortunately, you risk the other person saying something like, “Gee, you’re so uptight.  What’s the big deal about being a few minutes late?”
  4. If that happens – if the person you’re addressing attacks you or mounts a vigorous defense instead of apologizing – what you should do next depends very much on your relationship.  Is this someone with whom you can have a calm discussion?  Is this someone who is incapable of a genuine apology?  Is this someone you simply must get along with, such as a family member?  Unfortunately, there is no pat formula for what you should do.  But see the next step.
  5. Apology received or not, you can say something like this:  “In the future, I would like you to…try harder to be on time or … call me if you’ll be late or …whatever you think would improve the situation for you.
Asking for an apology – and especially telling someone why you feel you deserve an apology – is risky.  Yet if you don’t do it, the person who has upset you may never understand the effect that their words or actions have had, and your relationship may never be the same.  You have to decide for yourself if taking the risk and asking for an apology is the right thing to do.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Disgust - New Post at

What do we really mean when we say that we are "disgusted" by someone's actions? Do physical and moral disgust share a common origin or do we simply borrow the rhetoric of disgust to show strong disapproval? I discuss some recent thinking on these issues in "Misdeeds & Disease: How Similar are Disgust and Moral Disgust?" a post for "Facts so Romantic" the blog of, a new science magazine.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Condo Law Digest – November 2013

Water meter
Ottawa-Carleton Standard Condominium Corporation No. 671 v. Friend, 2013 ONSC 5775 (CanLII)
Decision Date: October 9, 2013

At a meeting of owners in November 2008 it was decided that the water meters would be replaced with energy meters, so that the energy costs for each unit could be fairly determined.  The condominium agreed to pay for the purchase and installation of the new meters.  After about a year meters had been replaced in 49 of the 50 units.  The owners of the remaining unit, Mr. and Mrs. Friend, advised the corporation that they would allow access to their unit only under certain conditions.  The condominium found these conditions unacceptable and informed the Friends that if they did not provide access for the purpose of installing the new meter they would ultimately be required to pay the installation costs themselves.  Over the next 18 months the corporation continued to request access to the unit and warned the Friends about the possibility of bringing a court application.  The Friends continued to refuse access, a court application was brought, and a case conference was held in November 2012.  At that time it was agreed that a new water meter would be installed, and that payment for the installation, obligations to pay outstanding water charges, legal costs and various bylaw violations related to storing sports equipment on the unit’s balcony, would be the subject of a future hearing.

At the hearing, Judge Maranger found that the condominium acted in a manner that was “fair and reasonable” and that the respondents (particularly Mr. Friend), “simply decided that the rules of the condominium were not going to apply to him.”  He ordered the Friends to comply with all bylaws, and to pay for installing the meter, for outstanding water charges as calculated by the condominium, and for $15,000 in legal costs incurred by the corporation.

Comment:  I can only quote the judge: “That a matter such as this ended up in Court is unfortunate, the cost consequences here are 5 to 10 times the value of the claim.”

A follow-up to two cases I reported in the September Condo Law Digest:

In Green v. York Condominium Corporation No. 834 and ThyssenKrupp Elevator (Canada) Ltd. the plaintiff was ordered to pay to the defendant $20, 000 in legal costs and over $8000 in disbursements.

In 673830 Ontario Limited v. MTCC 673 the plaintiff was ordered to pay the defendant costs in the amount of $15 000.