Motion judge’s comments were sharp but did not demonstrate closed mind to merits of case

Estates and Trusts - Estates - Requirements for Due Execution of Will

When respondent’s father died, assets of his estate consisted of investment account worth approximately $80,000 after payment of most debts and $50,000 line of credit which he had taken out prior to his marriage to applicant. Respondent contended that $50,000 loan was debt secured against matrimonial home and therefore not liability attributed to estate. Applicant’s position was that loan was unsecured and therefore attached as liability to estate. Motion judge found that deceased was principal and sole debtor, and his estate was liable for loan following his death. Respondent appealed alleging that motion judge made remarks at motion hearing that demonstrated reasonable apprehension of bias towards respondent. Appeal dismissed. Motion judge made no palpable and overriding error in his factual finding, and accordingly, his decision was entitled to deference. Respondent referenced Land Transfer Tax Act, Mortgages Act, and Execution Act, to advance position that applicant became liable for separate debt because she now owned matrimonial home, however, references did not support her position. Although motion judge’s comments were sharp, they did not demonstrate that motion judge had closed his mind to merits of respondent’s case. It was also found that motion judge’s failure to grant adjournment did not demonstrate bias or amount to denial of natural justice by itself.

Lawrence v. Lawrence (2019), 2019 CarswellOnt 14593, 2019 ONCA 721, G.R. Strathy C.J.O., J.C. MacPherson J.A., and M. Tulloch J.A. (Ont. C.A.); affirmed (2019), 2019 CarswellOnt 1349, 2019 ONSC 785, J.A. Ramsay J. (Ont. S.C.J.). (Ont. C.A.); affirmed (2019), 2019 CarswellOnt 1350, 2019 ONSC 373, J.A. Ramsay J. (Ont. S.C.J.).

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