Jun 29, 2020

COURT OF APPEAL SUMMARIES (June 22 – 26, 2020)

Martin v. Watts, 2020 ONCA 406 (CanLII)

[Rouleau, van Rensburg and Roberts JJ.A.]

COUNSEL:

Michael Rappaport, for the appellant

Gordon S. Campbell, for the respondent

Keywords: Family Law, Civil Procedure, Orders, Enforcement, Striking Pleadings, Family Law Rules, O. Reg. 114/99, Rule 1(8)(c), Roberts v. Roberts, 2015 ONCA 450, Kovachis v. Kovachis, 2013 ONCA 663, Manchanda v. Thethi, 2016 ONCA 909, leave to appeal refused, [2017] S.C.C.A. No. 29

FACTS:

The motion judge struck the appellant’s answer and amended answer and removed the appellant’s counsel as counsel of record about a month before the scheduled trial date because of the appellant’s ongoing failure to comply with several court orders to pay costs, as well as his share of household expenses for the matrimonial home, and to provide material financial disclosure.

ISSUES:

Did the motion judge err in striking the appellant’s pleadings?

HOLDING:

Appeal dismissed.

REASONING:

No. The motion judge applied the relevant legislative provisions and legal principles. Rule 1(8)(c) of the Family Law Rules permits the court to strike out documents filed by a party for failure to comply with a court order. She also applied the correct case law, which provides that the exercise of the court’s discretion to strike pleadings and exclude trial participation is one that should be exercised sparingly, in exceptional cases, and only where no other remedy would suffice: Roberts v. Roberts , 2015 ONCA 450, Kovachis v. Kovachis, 2013 ONCA 663.

The motion judge’s findings that the appellant had wilfully and egregiously breached court orders to pay costs and outstanding household expenses and to make financial disclosure were fully justified on the record. The most basic obligation in family law proceedings is the duty to disclose financial information and this obligation is immediate and ongoing: Roberts; Manchanda v. Thethi, 2016 ONCA 909, leave to appeal refused, [2017] S.C.C.A. No. 29.

The appellant’s contention that the motion judge’s order was in retaliation for his complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council about the motion judge’s colleague who had made one of the costs orders in question was completely unfounded.

It was unnecessary to decide other issues raised on the appeal, such as the removal of appellant’s counsel of record.