In a recent blog posting, we reported about a decision from the Ontario Condominium Authority Tribunal (the “Tribunal”), dismissing an owner’s application for the production of documents pursuant to section 55 of the Condominium Act, 1998, on the basis that the request fit within an established pattern of vexatious conduct by the owner.
Mr. Lahrkamp, the unit owner, was previously declared a vexatious litigant and prohibited by the Ontario Supreme Court of Justice from commencing any legal proceedings against his condominium corporation except with leave of a judge of the Superior Court of Justice. This court order was granted after Mr. Lahrkamp had engaged in more than a dozen legal proceedings related to requests for production of documents over a ten-year period. The court order, however, did not apply to proceedings before the Tribunal.
The Tribunal recently released its decision and order on costs related to Mr. Lahrkamp’s unsuccessful application to the Tribunal.
The Tribunal Rules of Practice provide that the Tribunal will not order a party to pay another party’s legal fees unless there are exceptional reasons. The Tribunal determined that an exceptional reason existed in this case as Mr. Lahrkamp’s application was dismissed because it was part of an already established pattern of vexatious conduct.
The condominium corporation’s legal costs relating to the application to the Tribunal amounted to over $21,000. The corporation’s original costs submission was over $12,000 and then increased to over $21,000 when a second submission was made. The Tribunal determined that the corporation did not provide any detailed information to substantiate the drastic increase in costs between the first and second submissions.
The Tribunal stated that the corporation should not expect to be fully reimbursed for its legal fees as the Condominium Act is consumer protection legislation and the rights of individual owners need to balanced against the collective interests of the entire condominium community.
Mr. Lahrkamp was ordered to pay costs in the amount of $2500 to the corporation.
“I believe that this amount is sufficiently substantial to convey to the Applicant and other users that a vexatious application should not be brought, while encouraging condominium corporations to be judicious in incurring legal fees.”
The effect of this decision means that all of the unit owners of the condominium corporation will have to foot the bill for the legal fees incurred in excess of the costs award as part of their common expenses. Time will tell if the $2500 costs award will be sufficient to deter Mr. Lahrkamp from making other frivolous or vexatious applications to the Tribunal.