Jul 31, 2014

What are OPCA Litigants?

Meads v. Meads, 2012 ABQB 571 (CanLII)

In 2012, an Alberta case, Meads v. Meads, 2012 ABQB 571, introduced a new category of vexatious litigant - Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Argument (OPCA) Litigants. The judge stated:


"This Court has developed a new awareness and understanding of a category of vexatious litigant. As we shall see, while there is often a lack of homogeneity, and some individuals or groups have no name or special identity, they (by their own admission or by descriptions given by others) often fall into the following descriptions: Detaxers; Freemen or Freemen-on-the-Land; Sovereign Men or Sovereign Citizens; Church of the Ecumenical Redemption International (CERI); Moorish Law; and other labels - there is no closed list. In the absence of a better moniker, I have collectively labelled them as Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Argument litigants (OPCA litigants), to functionally define them collectively for what they literally are. These persons employ a collection of techniques and arguments promoted and sold by ‘gurus’ (as hereafter defined) to disrupt court operations and to attempt to frustrate the legal rights of governments, corporations, and individuals."
These OPCA litigants deny state and Court authority. They generally believe that either the laws are in some way invalid or that they do not apply to most citizens, so they have a legal and moral right not to comply.
As Justice Rooke states: "they will only honour state, regulatory, contract, family, fiduciary, equitable, and criminal obligations if they feel like it. And typically, they don’t."
After an extensive review of the Court's inherent jurisdiction and case law rejecting each of the above propositions, Justice Rooke held that any scheme claiming that a person can possess or acquire a status that allows him or her to ignore Court authority is incorrect in law. He ruled that a defence with that basis may be struck without further analysis.
Remedies
Justice Rooke held that a strict approach is appropriate when the Court responds to OPCA litigants. The decision provides a number of powerful procedural remedies and expressly instructs lawyers to pursue these remedies to minimize harm to their clients.
A lawyer who encounters a claim or a defence based on an OPCA concept may now request:


  • Costs on a full indemnity or solicitor and own client basis;

  • Security for costs;

  • Punitive and aggravated damages (especially in the case of foisted agreements), but please note: punitive and aggravated damages must be specifically sought by counsel;

  • That the OPCA litigant be found in contempt of Court (not applicable to money-for-nothing arguments);

  • That the OPCA litigant be declared a vexatious litigant pursuant to section 23.1 of the Judicature Act, RSA 2000, chapter J-2.

Indeed, Justice Rooke suggests that most OPCA strategies potentially meet the threshold for these remedies, especially the costs and contempt remedies. He also indicates that serving a lawyer with a fee schedule containing exorbitant penalties may be enough to charge an OPCA litigant with the Offence of intimidating a justice system participant under section 423.1of the Criminal Code, RSC 1985, chapter C-46.
Statutes often requested by OPCA individuals:


Some Local Case Law:

REFERENCES:
Feliu, Vicenc. "Meeting the Information Needs of Constitutionalist Patrons: A Guide for Reference Librarians" in (2006) 25Legal Reference Services Quarterly, 89-116 (available in the Vancouver courthouse library).
Halsbury's Statutes of England and Wales, 4th ed., 1995 reissue, v. 10 - Constitutional Law: Petition of Right (1627) from p. 26 (available in Vancouver and Victoria courthouse libraries).
Bennett Jones. Alberta Court Skewers Gibberish Legal Arguments.