In a case that we recently blogged about, Seto v. PCC No. 492, several commercial condominium unit owners were unsuccessful in their application for an order that the condominium corporation had engaged in oppressive conduct. The alleged oppressive conduct related to a dispute about the allocation of common expenses and the alleged failure of the condominium corporation to enforce restrictions in the corporation’s declaration. Although the Court found that the corporation had not acted in an oppressive manner, the Court concluded that the common expenses were not allocated in accordance with the declaration, and as a result the unit owners had been overcharged.
The unit owners sought costs in the amount of $25,000 on the basis that the dispute regarding the common expenses was the most significant issue in dispute, and on that issue the unit owners were successful.
The condominium corporation took the position that neither party should be awarded costs, since the unit owners were only partially successful in their application. Their oppression claim, which complicated and lengthened the legal proceeding, had failed.
The Judge agreed with the unit owners that the allocation of common expenses was the “driving issue” of the litigation. However, although the unit owners were successful on that issue, he only awarded them costs in the amount of $13,000.
“I believe that the applicants’ costs ought to be reduced to reflect a just and fair result given the unproven allegations of oppressive conduct.”
This case illustrates once again that the awarding of costs in each case is in the discretion of the Court and there is no certainty as to what extent a successful party in litigation will be awarded costs. In this case, the unit owners did not succeed in their claim that the corporation had engaged in oppressive conduct, but were awarded some costs. In the case of Couture v. TSCC No. 2187, which we previously blogged about, the unit owner was successful in her application for a declaration that the corporation had acted in an oppressive and burdensome manner, but that owner was not awarded any costs at all.