Feb 2, 2016

ABCA SUMMARY: Templanza v Wolfman

Templanza v Wolfman, 2016 ABCA 1 (CanLII)

The Plaintiff brought an action against her lawyer, Mr. Wolfman, for failure to comply with her instructions and preserve her rights as they pertained to a transfer of land for a condominium. Her action was summarily dismissed by a Master, and that decision was upheld by a chambers judge. The Court of Appeal dismissed her appeal.

Facts:

In short, the Plaintiff wished to purchase a condominium but was unable to obtain mortgage financing. As a result, she entered into an agreement with a third party, whereby the third party would gain CMHC insured mortgage financing, and the Plaintiff would provide deposit money, live in the condominium, and pay all condominium fees. It was understood that the third party would then transfer the land to the Plaintiff. After some disagreement, the land was transferred to the Plaintiff’s son, who was able to gain financing to take over the mortgage. The Plaintiff and her son then hired the Defendant to prepare a transfer of land from the son to the Plaintiff. At some point, however, the Plaintiff’s son directed the Defendant not to transfer the land and the Defendant ceased acting as the parties had put him in an irreconcilable conflict. On May 9, 2007, the Plaintiff signed a declaration stating that she had knowledge that she did not have title to the land and consequently, that the Defendant had not followed her instructions. She did not file a Statement of Claim against the Defendant, however, until May 22, 2009, in which she claimed he failed to follow instructions and preserve her rights.

Reasoning:

The Court reminded us that it will grant summary judgment if a disposition that is “fair and just to both parties can be made on the existing record.” When the resolution of a dispute turns on issues of law, summary judgment will often be appropriate. Trials, therefore, are only required when the record cannot be used to decide legal issues that are unsettled, complex, or intertwined with the facts.

In this case, however, the Limitations Act is quite clear in that a party has two years from the date they first knew, or ought to have known, that the injury occurred. By reviewing the Plaintiff’s declaration, it was clear that by May 9, 2007, she knew that the land had not been transferred and that the Defendant had not complied with her instructions. As a result, the Court was firm in upholding the Master’s decision that the Plaintiff’s claim was limitation barred because it was not filed on or before May 9, 2009.

Conclusion:

Actions that deal solely with the applicability of the Limitations Act can be dealt with on summary judgment.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice.