Settlement between siblings over use of father's funds should be enforced: Ontario Court of Appeal

Courts agreed that settlement agreement resolved all issues on its face

Settlement between siblings over use of father's funds should be enforced: Ontario Court of Appeal

An application judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice correctly concluded that the parties made an agreement to settle a dispute over the use of their father’s funds that should be enforced, the Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled.

Paul Stephen Stefanchuk filed an application seeking an accounting by Linda Jean Leliever relating to her alleged use of funds belonging to their nowdeceased father. At dispute in the application was the nature of Leliever’s ownership of a joint bank account and her use of funds from the account.

Leliever brought a motion to strike the application under rule 14.09 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. She argued that the allegations that she improperly used her father’s funds had no basis. For this argument, she relied on affidavits which she filed and on which she was cross-examined.

Justice Robert Reid for the Ontario Superior Court of Justice dismissed this motion upon finding that the alleged weakness of Stefanchuk’s case fit none of the criteria in rule 25.11, which allowed a court to strike out a pleading for being scandalous, frivolous or vexatious, or an abuse of the court’s process. Just because there might be a good defence to the claim did not mean that a party could not make such a claim, Reid said.

Stefanchuk then brought a motion seeking an amendment of the pleadings. The Superior Court granted this second motion. Amendments to pleadings should presumptively be allowed unless they would cause prejudice that costs or an adjournment could not compensate, and such prejudice was not present here, the Superior Court found.

The case of Stefanchuk v. Leliever, 2018 ONSC 5096 involved a costs endorsement flowing from a decision on those two motions. Reid ordered Leliever to pay Stefanchuk costs fixed at $17,340, plus harmonized sales tax of $2,254 and disbursements of $501, for a total of $20,095.

In January 2022, Justice Linda Walters of the Superior Court released a decision regarding the enforceability of an April 2021 settlement between the same parties, applying the two-step test provided in Capital Gains Income Streams Corporation v. Merrill Lynch Canada Inc., 2007 CanLII 39604.

Regarding the first step, the application judge determined that the parties had agreed to a settlement and that the terms were clear, unequivocal, and unambiguous. On the second step, the judge found that the settlement agreement should be enforced and that the partial settlement was superseded.

Application judge made no errors

In Stefanchuk v. LeLiever, 2022 ONCA 697, the Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal and awarded costs to Stefanchuk in the agreed amount of $15,000, all inclusive.

LeLiever argued that the application judge improperly enforced the settlement terms to which the parties agreed regarding all matters, including jointly-held bank accounts.

The appellate court disagreed. It ruled that the settlement agreement, on its face, resolved all the application’s issues, including the funds that the estate trustee held during litigation and the proceeds in the tax-free savings account and the retirement income funds, which were not under the estate trustee’s control.

The Court of Appeal held that the judge’s finding on the test’s first step had ample support in the record and had no errors. The judge’s determination on the second step also lacked errors, the appellate court said.

Related stories

Free newsletter

Our newsletter is FREE and keeps you up to date on all the developments in the Ontario legal community. Please enter your email address below to subscribe.

Recent articles & video

Beware the bias of experts: Thomson Rogers’ partner, Robert Ben

Slip-and-fall claims rebounding after pandemic lull: personal injury lawyer

Avi Weiss on building in-house counsel network, crypto, and choosing the right professional path

Former deputy premier Christine Elliott joins Western University law school as leader in residence

Court rejects contingency personal injury fee retainer agreement because of deficiencies in form

Ontario Court of Appeal orders amicus to produce co-accused’s psychiatric report

Most Read Articles

Tribunal revokes licence of doctor George Otto convicted of trafficking in fentanyl

Slip-and-fall claims rebounding after pandemic lull: personal injury lawyer

How family lawyer Kevin Caspersz recommends clients keep legal costs down during divorce season

Court rejects contingency personal injury fee retainer agreement because of deficiencies in form