Motions for Security for Costs: What are they and when are they used?
A frivolous will challenge can be frustrating for any respondent. It is not only time consuming but costly as well. A motion for security for costs is an option a respondent facing a frivolous will challenge can pursue in hopes of putting an end to it. While these motions may not be used as frequently in the estate litigation context as they are used in general civil litigation, they are nonetheless valuable.
An order for security for costs requires an applicant to pay a sum of money into court that will cover the respondent’s legal costs, should they be successful in the action or application. It helps to ensure that a successful respondent is not left with an unenforceable costs order. In doing so, it acts as a deterrent to frivolous proceedings.
Rule 56.01(1) of the Rules of Civil Procedure lists several categories in which a respondent may bring a motion for security for costs. These categories include the applicant not ordinarily residing in Ontario, a frivolous or vexatious action or application or if good reason exists to believe that the applicant has insufficient assets in Ontario.
Once the respondent has shown that the action or application fits into one of the categories listed in rule 56.0(1), the applicant then has the opportunity to prove that ordering security for costs would be unjust because the applicant is impecunious and the claim has merit.
It is imperative that the motion is made without undue delay. However, if the motion involves assessing the action’s merits, Park Street Plaza Ltd. v. Standard Optical Inc. and Shuter v. Toronto Dominion Bank suggests that it should not be made until after examinations for discovery are completed.
In the context of estate litigation, Re Bisyk notes that security for costs will rarely be awarded in a will challenge case where the next of kin have been excluded from the will. This is because the estate trustee has an obligation to propound the will. However, where the next of kin acts on their own and without the support of their family members or against family members, the will challenge may be viewed as “frivolous”, thus providing the possibility for security for costs to be awarded (Boutzios Estate, Re).
Overall, a motion for security for costs is a powerful tool an estate litigator can employ. Forcing an applicant to pay money into court will make them think twice about proceeding with a frivolous will challenge. It may even stop the lawsuit all together, saving both sides costs, time and resources.
Thanks for reading!
Ian M. Hull and Celine Dookie
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