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Civil Procedure - Time - Extension

Civil Procedure - Leave to Appeal to Divisional Court

Civil Procedure - Motions to Dismiss under R21 for No Reasonable Cause of Action

Civil Procedure - Motions to Strike under R25.11 for Scandalous, Frivolous, Vexatious or Abuse of Process of the Court

Lee v. Richcraft Homes Ltd. (Ont CA, 2019)

Here the Court of Appeal sets out the simple 'test' for extending time in court proceedings:
[14] The test for extending time is whether the justice of the case requires that an extension be given. While each case depends on its own circumstances, the court will typically take into consideration (a) whether the moving party formed a bona fide intention to appeal within the relevant time period; (b) the length of, and explanation for, the delay in filing; (c) any prejudice to the responding parties occasioned by the delay; and (d) the merits of the proposed appeal. This is the appropriate test whether the motion is to extend time to appeal, or to extend time to file a motion for leave to appeal: Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc. v. Froese, 2013 ONCA 131 (CanLII), 114 O.R. (3d) 636, at para. 15.
Additionally, the court drew the distinction between R21 and R25.11 motions, and stated the test for leave to appeal to the Divisional Court:
[18] Richcraft’s motion to strike was brought under r. 21, as a motion to dismiss a claim that discloses no reasonable cause of action. Since rule 21 motions are required to be heard by judges, the master was unable to hear the motion under this rule. Instead, he agreed at the hearing to consider the motion to strike under r. 25.11 (which permits the court to strike, with or without leave to amend, a pleading that is scandalous, frivolous or vexatious, or an abuse of the process of the court).

[19] In Panalpina Inc. v. Sharma (1988), 29 C.P.C. (2d) 222, Master Sandler helpfully explained the difference between motions to strike out pleadings under r. 25.11 and r. 21.01: at pp. 234-35, 241. He correctly stated that, to determine whether there is jurisdiction, the master first needs to decide which rule is the real basis for the motion, regardless of what the moving party is claiming: at p. 231; see also A.B. v. Halton Children’s Aid Society, 2016 ONSC 6195 (Master) (CanLII), at paras. 21-23. The master hearing the motion in this case was required to adjourn the motion to a judge, if it was in fact a motion to strike for failure to disclose a reasonable cause of action, under r. 21. Here, the primary reason for the master’s dismissal of the claim without leave to amend was that Mr. Lee lacks standing. Standing is a matter that is properly addressed in a r. 21 motion: see George-McCool v. Toronto (City) Police Service Board, 2008 CanLII 54778 (Ont. S.C.), at para. 6. To the extent that the master’s decision was based on Mr. Lee’s lack of standing, it appears to have been made outside the master’s jurisdiction under r. 25.11.

[20] The master also concluded that the claim was “frivolous” and “an abuse of process”, apparently because of the deficiencies in Mr. Lee’s pleading. “As the exercise of the power set out in rule 25.11 denies a litigant a full trial of the merits of the claim, it must be exercised only in the clearest of cases”: Wernikowski v. Kirkland, Murphy & Ain (1999), 1999 CanLII 3822 (ON CA), 50 O.R. (3d) 124 (C.A.), leave to appeal to SCC refused, [2000] S.C.C.A. No. 98, at para. 12; M.A.S. (Litigation guardian of) v. Ludwig (2004), 2004 CanLII 30968 (ON CA), 245 D.L.R. (4th) 149 (Ont. C.A.), at p. 154. Reading the statement of claim generously, Mr. Lee’s claim is for damages for the loss of his business and equipment as a result of Richcraft’s conduct in failing to deal with his complaints about the other tenant and in terminating the lease. The master ought to have considered whether the pleadings deficiencies could have been addressed through amendments to the statement of claim under rules 26 and 5.04(2), to clarify Mr. Lee’s personal claim based on his plea of harassment and/or to add Jay-Pee, the tenant under the lease, as a plaintiff. See for example Mazzucca v. Silvercreek Pharmacy Ltd. (2001), 2001 CanLII 8620 (ON CA), 56 O.R. (3d) 768, and in particular (with the abolition of the doctrine of special circumstances), the concurring reasons of Laskin J.A. in that case.

[21] The test for leave to appeal an order of the Divisional Court exercising its appellate jurisdiction is set out in Re Sault Dock Co. Ltd. and City of Sault Ste. Marie, 1972 CanLII 572 (ON CA), [1973] 2 O.R. 479 (C.A.), at pp. 480-81; see also Enbridge, at paras. 19-22. Typically, the matter will present an arguable question of law or mixed fact and law requiring the interpretation of Ontario statutes or regulations, principles of law or, where the point in issue involves a question of public importance, a municipal by-law, or agreement. The court may also grant leave to appeal when there has been a departure from established principles of law that would result in a miscarriage of justice, or when there has clearly been an error in a judgment or order of the Divisional Court: see Sault Dock at p. 481; Enbridge at paras. 21-22.

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