Below is a sampling of some interesting cases that Kevin and James have dealt with over the years.
A sister sued her mother’s estate for funds she said she spent on her mom’s behalf while her mom was alive. The court found that the sister had taken moneys for herself that should have gone to her mom when her dad died, and consequently the moneys she spent always belonged to her mom anyway.
A woman entered into a contract to buy a house for $3.9m plus GST. She ended up buying not that house but a different house on the same day originally set for completion of the first house. The court found her to be liable for close to $600,000 of damages resulting mainly from the resale of the house at a lower price.
Chang v. Hua (B.C. Supreme Court)
Chang v. Hua (B.C. Court of Appeal)
A son held significant moneys that belonged to his mother. When the son’s wife found out about the moneys as the son was dying (he was not in the same house as the wife at this time), the wife got the son to transfer the money to her. We successfully argued that the money still belonged to the mother despite the fact that the son transferred the money to his wife on the basis that the son was holding the moneys in trust for his mother (what is known in law as a “resulting trust”).
Pan v. Pan Estate, 2010 BCSC 1230
Pan v. Pan Estate, 2011 BCSC 856
The husband of our client, the wife, was a compulsive gambler. When coming to Canada from Taiwan, he would often go to Las Vegas to gamble. One weekend he lost over USD$5m. Shortly after that, the husband and the wife went back to Taiwan and got divorced, with the wife getting the house and some money. MGM said that the divorce was a fraudulent conveyance designed to defeat the claim that MGM would otherwise have had against the house and money. MGM sued to undo the transfer of the house and the moneys. We successfully defended the wife against MGM’s claim for the house and the money.
MGM Grand Hotel Inc. v. Liu, 1997 CanLII 2369 (BC SC)
Our clients bought a property in a court ordered sale. The owner of the property had been involved in an international arbitration, and had lost. The creditor was now selling the property. The notary for our client asked, but did not get an answer, as to whether the owner of the property was a resident or not, and the contract was completely silent as to whether the owner was a resident of Canada for tax purposes. The notary completed the purchase for the purchasers without confirming the residency of the owners, and it turned out that one of them was a non-resident, which resulted in the purchasers being liable for $695,000 in tax that was owing by that non-resident owner. We successfully sued the notary for negligence and in contract for failing to protect the purchasers.
Mao v. Liu, 2017 BCSC 226
Our client was the purchaser of a house. She did not want to complete the purchase. We saw that there was a restrictive covenant on title that on the wording of the contract of purchase and sale should not be allowed to remain on title. We requested that the charge be removed from title prior to completion, but the vendor’s lawyer did not do so. The case went to trial and later to the B.C. Court of Appeal, but both times our client prevailed. As a result of this case, most contracts now contain a clause written into the contract by the realtor that the purchaser accepts all non-financial charges will remain on title upon completion.
Chen v. Hsu, 1997 CanLII 2471 (BC SC)
A buyer entered into a contract to purchase a house, but later entered into another contract to buy a different house. She completed on the other contract, but not on the first one. We were able to sue the buyer and get damages for the difference between the amount that the buyer was supposed to pay, $3.9m, and the price when the property was sold a second time for $3.33m. This was substantially more than the deposit.
Chang v Hua, 2017 BCSC 2091
A mother died, leaving her estate to her two children. The main asset of the estate was the house in which she was living when she died. The sister was named as executrix in the mother’s will. The sister, using a power of attorney and a property transfer signed while the mother was alive, sold the house and then put the net sale proceeds into her and her husband’s accounts and refused to turn half of the money over to her brother. She also claimed that the mother had authorized that she be paid for her time taking care of her mother and so brought a claim against the estate. We were able to have the mother replaced as executrix by her brother, citing a conflict of interest.
Browne v. Brown Estate, 2015 BCSC 28
A vendor sold a property to a buyer, but before the subjects were removed, there was a flood in the basement from a heavy rain. The vendor paid for a company to fix the flood (and disclosed the flood to the buyer), but after completing, the buyer sued the vendor for breach of contract, seeking the difference in value of the property as a result of the flood. We successfully defended the vendor on the basis of “buyer beware” (i.e. the buyer must make inquiries and if they don’t look into problems fully, they cannot sue the vendor except in limited circumstances).
Liversidge v. Wang, 2012 BCSC 1974
Liversidge v. Wang, 2013 BCSC 930
A couple who entered into a contract of purchase and sale to sell a property changed their minds and refused to sell after seeing how fast property prices were going up. We sued on behalf of the purchaser and were able to obtain the difference between the selling price and the price of the property at trial as the measure of damages.
Zhao v. Ma, 2013 BCSC 2174
A purchaser entered into a contract to buy a house. The contract had a “subject to financing clause”. Prior to removal of subjects, the buyer got hold of the appraisal for the bank mortgage and found out he had paid more than the appraised value, so he asked for a reduction of the price to the appraised value. The sellers refused. The buyer then said that he couldn’t get financing and refused to remove the subject to financing clause. We sued for the sellers and were able to get judgment for not just the amount of the deposit, but for the difference in price between what the purchaser agreed to and the eventual sale price when the property was sold a second time (as well as other damages and costs). The purchaser appealed the case to the B.C. Court of Appeal, but lost there as well.
Wu et al. v. Gordic, 1999 BCCA 754
Great Uncle Trying to Reclaim One Half of Title to a House That He Had Transferred to his Great Nephew – Resulting Trust Claim Dismissed
An elderly man wanted his brother’s then five year old grandson to inherit his house after his death, so he transferred the house to himself and his great nephew as joint tenants. Six years later, he had a fall and was hospitalized. The hospital recommended that the man have someone take care of him while he continued to live in the house. When the man was released from hospital, he hired a woman to look after him. Unfortunately, three months after she started “taking care of him”, the half of the house that was still in the man’s name was transferred to the woman, and the man started asking that the other half be transferred back to him. He eventually sued the (now 11 year old) great nephew, saying that the interest of the great nephew was held in trust for him so he could get it back at any time. We defended the nephew and the court found that there was no resulting trust, i.e. that the elderly man had gifted the property to the great nephew and now could not get it back.
Wong v. Huang, 2012 BCSC 975
A buyer did not have the money to close a real estate purchase despite being required to do so. We successfully sued the buyer and seized the deposit for the purchase. This is a fairly typical fact pattern.
Yu Wang and Nai Lin Maio v. Diane Shirley Robinson and Edward Basil Gallagher and Coldwell Banker Westburn Realty, BCSC Action No. S97147
A man gave a woman (not his wife) a power of attorney. The woman used the power of attorney to withdraw funds and buy a house. We sued on behalf of the man and recovered the funds used to buy the house.
Hua Xing Chen v. Sylvia Ni Lee also known as Ni Xing, BCSC Action No. S011092