Author: Paul Emile Trudelle

13 Mar

Common Interest Privilege

Paul Emile Trudelle Litigation Tags: , , 0 Comments

Communications between a client and litigation counsel may be considered privileged, and therefore may not be producible in the litigation.

This privilege can be extended to communications between parties and counsel to litigation who have a “common interest”.

“Common interest privilege” has been described as arising “where one party (party A) voluntarily discloses a document which is privileged in its hands to another party (party B) who has a common interest in the subject matter of the communication or in litigation in connection with which the document was brought into being.” The result is that the document is privileged in the hands of party B.

To put it another way, in the leading case of Iggillis Holdings Inc. v. Canada (National Revenue), 2018 FCA 51 (CanLII), (leave to the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed) the Federal Court of Appeal stated:

[S]olicitor-client privilege is not waived when an opinion provided by a lawyer to one party is disclosed, on a confidential basis, to other parties with sufficient common interest in the same transactions. This principle applies whether the opinion is first disclosed to the client of the particular lawyer and then to the other parties or simultaneously to the client and the other parties. In each case, the solicitor-client privilege that applies to the communication by the lawyer to his or her client of a legal opinion is not waived when that opinion is disclosed, on a confidential basis, to other parties with sufficient common interest in the same transactions.

Common interest privilege is not a “stand-alone privilege”: it extends an existing privilege to the receiving party. The communication must be otherwise privileged for common interest privilege to apply. For example, a document that is subject to privilege in the hands of party A may also remain privileged in the hand of party B, if there is a common interest at the time the document is disclosed.

The onus of establishing that a document is privileged from production rests on the party asserting the privilege. That party must provide evidence that supports the claim of privilege. If necessary, the court can review the documents in order to decide the validity of the claim: Rule 30.04(6) of the Rules of Civil Procedure.

The determination of whether the privilege exists depends upon objective evidence of the purpose and content of the communications and not the mere belief of the parties.

The concept is discussed at length in the matter of Ross v. Bragg, 2020 BCSC 337 (CanLII). There, the plaintiff made a claim against a number of defendants for damages relating to a lost business opportunity.

Correspondence between one of the defendants and their lawyer was shared with another defendant. If these documents contained legal advice, they would remain privileged in the hands of all of the defendants. The court reviewed the documents to determine whether they contained legal advice as not all documents from a lawyer are subject to privilege.

As an example of the application of the claim of privilege, the court ordered the production of minutes of a meeting between the defendants relating to discussions of the business opportunity, as these were not privileged, but refused to order production of the minutes relating to discussions of the defence to the litigation.

Thank you for reading.

Paul Trudelle

06 Mar

Plene Administravit: Fully Administered

Paul Emile Trudelle Estate & Trust, Litigation Tags: , , , 0 Comments

Are you an estate trustee? Is the estate being sued? Are there no, or insufficient, assets left in the estate to satisfy any judgment that may be obtained?  Then plene administravit (or plene administravit praeter) is the doctrine for you!

Plene administravit is Latin for “fully administered”. It is pleaded where there are no assets remaining in the estate to satisfy any judgment and costs award that may be obtained. Plene administravit praetor means “fully administered except”, and is pleaded when there are some but insufficient assets in the estate to satisfy any judgment and costs.

Failure to plead plene administravit could lead to personal liability on the part of the estate trustee for the claim. As stated in Commander Leasing Corp. Ltd. v. Aiyede (1983) CanLII 1649 (ON CA):

It has long been established that if an executor or administrator has no assets to satisfy the debt upon which an action is brought, in the absence of a plea of no assets or plene administravit, he will be taken to have conclusively admitted that he has assets to satisfy the judgment and will be personally liable for the debt and costs if they cannot be levied on the assets of the deceased. If the executor has some, but insufficient, assets to satisfy the judgment and costs, a plea of plene administravit praetor will render him liable only to the amount of assets proved to be in his hands as executor”.

Where the doctrine is pleaded, the burden of proof falls on the plaintiff to show that assets existed or ought to have existed in the hands of the estate trustee at the time the action was commenced.

In Commander Leasing, the estate trustee distributed the proceeds of the estate to the beneficiary (herself), with knowledge of the claim. The Court had no difficulty in finding that as the doctrine was not pleaded, the estate trustee was personally liable for the judgment.

In Commander Leasing, the Court of Appeal also discussed the companion doctrine of devistavit. Devistavit, or a wasting of assets, is defined to be “mismanagement of the estate and effects of the deceased, in squandering or misapplying the assets contrary to the duty imposed on them, for which the executors or administrators must answer out of their own pockets, as far as they had, or might have had, assets of the deceased.” In Commander Leasing, the court found that in distributing the estate the estate trustee breached her duty as estate trustee, rendering her personally liable.

However, all is not lost if the estate trustee fails to plead plene administravit. In Brummund v. Baumeister Estate, 2000 CanLii 16988 (ON CA), the Court of Appeal upheld a trial judge’s decision to allow the defendant to amend the defence at trial to plead the doctrine. The Court of Appeal held that the plaintiff was not prejudiced by the amendment, as the facts underlying the application of the doctrine were fully canvassed at trial.

Have a great, plenus weekend.

Paul Trudelle

28 Feb

Why Do Fools Fall In Love? Frankie Lymon

Paul Emile Trudelle Estate Planning Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

The song “Why Do Fools Fall in Love”, recorded in 1956, became a number 1 hit, and established the career of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. The song has been covered by many, including the Beach Boys and, most notably, Diana Ross.

Frankie Lymon died on February 27, 1968 at the age of 25, as a result of a heroin overdose. In his wake, he left a series of relationships. Years after his death, litigation ensued.

After Diana Ross’s cover version of the song reached the charts in 1981, three women, each claiming to be Lymon’s spouse and lawful heir, sought payment of royalties arising from the song.

The first, Elizabeth Waters, married Lymon in 1964. Together, they had a child who died shortly after birth. Waters, however, was not divorced from her first husband at the time of her marriage to Lymon.

The second woman, Zola Taylor, a singer with the Platters, claimed to have married Lymon in Mexico, 1965. However, no documentation of the marriage could be found.

The third, Emira Eagle, married Lymon in June 1967.

The question of who was Lymon’s proper heir went to trial. According to a Washington Post article, at first instance, the court held that first wife Waters was the proper heir. Although Waters was not yet divorced when she married Lymon, their relationship “satisfied the requirements of a common law marriage in the State of Pennsylvania.” Although Waters was not yet divorced when she married Lymon, the marriage became valid when the divorce from her first husband became final.

On appeal, the court held that the marriage between Waters and Lymon was not valid. The marriage to Eagle was valid and therefore she was entitled to the estate.

The story does not end there. Issues arose as to what royalties Lymon’s estate was entitled to. This involved litigation with Lymon’s former manager. In an article in Ebony Magazine, it is reported that Lymon’s estate was worth more than $1m.

In the Ebony interview, Eagle says that she knows why fools fall in love: “Love doesn’t hurt. Love is supposed to be tender, beautiful and caring. Frankie treated me like his queen.” When asked, Eagle said she would do it all again, “but I would insist on a will.”

Frankie’s life and posthumous issues are portrayed in the movie “Why Do Fools Fall in Love”, starring Vivica Fox as wife #1, Halle Berry as wife #2, Lela Rochon as wife #3 and Little Richard as himself.

Thanks for reading.

Paul Trudelle

21 Feb

Perpetual Cases on Perpetuities

Paul Emile Trudelle Estate Planning, Wills Tags: , , , 0 Comments

Goss Estate (Re), 2020 ABQB 121 (CanLII) is the most recent case to discuss the applicability of the Rule Against Perpetuities.

As stated in the case, “Cases involving the Rules Against Perpetuities are rare, however the Rule is alive and well in Alberta…”.

The case notes, dramatically, that the common law doctrine limits “the grasp of the dead hand … on the hand of the living.”

Simply put, the Rule provides that “No interest is good unless it must vest; if at all, not later than 21 years after some life in being at the creation of the interest.”

In Goss Estate, the Rule was applied and the trust created by the testator was found to be invalid. There, the deceased left a will that provided that the residue of the estate was to “be retained in trust for future generations of children and grandchildren”, with only the interest on the capital to be paid out. There was no ultimate residual beneficiary named.

Although Alberta has a “wait and see” rule that provides that if an interest may vest during the period, the trust is not necessarily invalid, such a provision did not apply in Goss as the court found that the interest was incapable of vesting within the perpetuity period.

In conclusion, the court found that the trust was invalid. As there were no named residual beneficiary, the estate passed on an intestacy, to the testator’s two children. With respect to the trust that was intended, “While [the testator] had somewhat noble ideas about how to deal with his estate, perpetual trusts have been unenforceable since 1682”.

For other blogs on the Rule Against Perpetuities, see Stuart Clark’s blog, Rule Against Perpetuities – It’s not so scary, and my blogs, Property Rights and the Rule Against Perpetuities and Hollywood, and the Rule Against Perpetuities.

As always, thank you for reading.

Paul Trudelle

14 Feb

Natural Love and Affection

Paul Emile Trudelle Estate Planning Tags: , , , , , , 0 Comments

As it is Valentine’s Day, our discussion today will consider, naturally, love and affection.

Real property can be gifted to loved ones. If there is no consideration of monetary value, then there will be no Land Transfer Tax payable on the transaction. In the Land Transfer Tax Affidavit, which must be filed when any transfer is registered in Ontario, the transfer is said to be for “natural love and affection”.

Although not specifically exempt from taxes, a transfer for “natural love and affection” is considered to be a transfer for nil value, and therefore, no Land Transfer Tax is payable.

“Love”, as most poets know, is hard to define. There is no definition in the tax legislation. Further, it is not clear what “unnatural” love or affection is.

In certain cases, gifts to non-arms’ length parties may also not attract Land Transfer Tax. For example, a gift to a charity may not be subject to Land Transfer Tax.

If the gift includes the assumption of a mortgage or other liabilities by the receiver, then the value of the mortgage or liability assumed by the receiver is of value to the donor, and must, in most cases, be included in the Land Transfer Tax Affidavit. Land Transfer Tax will be payable on the value of the mortgage or liability assumed. I say “in most cases” because there is an exemption where the transfer is between spouses or former spouses: see R.R.O. 1990, Regulation 696.

Further, if the receiver is not a spouse and the land was subject to a mortgage that was paid off by the receiver, Land Transfer Tax will be payable on the value of the mortgage paid off.

When gifting real property, keep in mind that while Land Transfer Tax may not be payable, this does not mean that income taxes are not payable. In many cases, the gift will trigger a deemed capital gain on the part of the donor.

For more information, see the Ontario Ministry of Finance bulletin, here, and the Government of Ontario publication, “A Guide for Real Estate Practitioners: Land Transfer Tax and the Registration of Conveyances of Land in Ontario”, here.

Thanks for reading.

Paul Trudelle

07 Feb

Ten-Year Limitation Period for Real Property Claims

Paul Emile Trudelle Estate & Trust Tags: , , , 0 Comments

In the recent case of Wilkinson v. The Estate of Linda Robinson, 2020 ONSC 91, the court rejected an argument that the 2-year limitation period set out in the Trustee Act applied to a claim against an estate for an interest in a real property on the basis of constructive trust. The court held that the 10-year limitation period set out in the Real Property Limitations Act applied.

In the case, the deceased died on July 2, 2015. The deceased died owning a real property that she and her common-law spouse lived in. In her will, the deceased allowed her spouse to live in the house for 2 years. The surviving spouse brought a claim that he was entitled to an equal interest in the house.

However, the claim was not commenced until September 25, 2017. The estate seized upon this delay and brought a motion to have the application dismissed on the basis of the passage of the 2-year limitation period set out in the Trustee Act.

The court dismissed this argument. It held that the appropriate limitation period was not the one set out in the Trustee Act, but the one set out in the Real Property Limitations Act.

The court quoted extensively from the Court of Appeal decision of McConnell v. Huxtable, 2014 ONCA 86. There, the court determined that a claim for a constructive trust in a common law relationship based on unjust enrichment was an action for recovery of land and therefore was governed by the Real Property Limitations Act. The applicable limitation period was therefore 10 years.

In a similar case, Rolston v. Rolston, 2016 ONSC 2937, the court refused to apply the 2-year limitation period to a claim for a remedial constructive trust brought 7 years after the date of death of the deceased. Again, the action was allowed to continue under the 10-year limitation period set out in the Real Property Limitations Act.

Ideally, any claim involving an estate should be brought within 2 years of the date of death of the deceased so as to avoid any limitation period issue. However, where this has not been done, it may still be possible to maintain a claim under certain circumstances.

Thanks for reading.

Paul Trudelle

31 Jan

St. Mark Preaching In Alexandria: Working for Your Bequest

Paul Emile Trudelle Estate Planning, General Interest, Wills Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

St. Mark Preaching in Alexandria is an impressive, substantial work: it measures 3.47 m by 7.70 m.

Gentille Bellini[1] started the canvas in July 1504. However, he died in February, 1507, before the work was completed. The painting was eventually completed in March, 1507, by Gentille’s brother, Giovanni.

It is believed that Gentille asked Giovanni to complete the painting before Gentille died. Giovanni refused. Gentille then prepared a will in which Giovanni was to be given a collection of drawings from their father and one of the founders of the Renaissance style of painting, Jacopo Bellini, but only on the condition that Giovanni complete the painting.

Conditions precedent, although rare, are not unheard of. Consider a will that provides that the beneficiary can inherit a $300m estate if he can spend $30m in 30 days (Brewster’s Millions), a will that provides for the residue of an estate to pass to “the mother who has since my death given birth in Toronto to the greatest number of children” (Millar Estate), or a will that provides that the beneficiary can inherit a substantial gift, but only if he or she spends the night in a (haunted) house (just about every Scooby-Doo episode).

However, wills with conditions can be fraught with difficulty. There are issues of uncertainty or even impossibility of the condition. They can be contrary to public policy. The condition may also be considered to be “repugnant” to the nature of the gift. An issue arises as to whether the condition is a condition precedent, in which the gift may fail in its entirety, or a condition subsequent, in which the gift may stand but the condition may fail. Great care in drafting such clauses is required.

Thank you for reading.

Paul Trudelle

[1]           Fun fact: Yes, the Bellini cocktail is named after Giovanni Bellini. Apparently, the pink colour of the peach puree and prosecco drink reminded its inventor, Giuseppe Cipriani of Harry’s Bar, Venice, of the colour of a toga of a saint in one of Giovanni’s paintings.

24 Jan

Fraudulent Calumny

Paul Emile Trudelle Estate & Trust, Wills Tags: , , , , , 0 Comments

Your sister (falsely) trash talks you to your mom. Mom then writes you out of her will.

“Fraudulent calumny!”, you scream.

Fraudulent calumny occurs where a person poisons the mind of a testator against another person who would otherwise be a natural beneficiary of the testator’s bounty by casting dishonest aspersions on his or her character.

The doctrine has been applied or considered in many UK decisions.

Fraudulent calumny is said to be a species of undue influence. However, rather than influence a testator to do something, the influencer influences a testator to NOT do something: leave a bequest to a certain party.

In order to establish fraudulent calumny, the person alleging fraudulent calumny must prove:

  1. That A made a false representation;
  2. To B, the testator;
  3. About C, a third person;
  4. For the purposes of inducing B to alter his or her testamentary dispositions;
  5. That A made the representations knowing them to be false, or reckless as to their truth; and
  6. That B’s will was made only because of the false representations.

See Kunicki& Anor v. Hayward, [2017] 4 WLR 32 at paragraph 122.

Like other undue influence, the test is a difficult one to pass.

In a recent UK decision, Rea v. Rea, [2019] WTLR 1231, the court rejected a claim of fraudulent calumny. The court held that the challengers did not establish that their sister poisoned their mother’s mind against them, by saying that the challengers had abandoned her. The court found that the mother felt, of her own volition, that she was abandoned. Thus, whether it was true or not, the mother made her own decision without anyone “poisoning her mind”; therefore without fraudulent calumny or undue influence.

For a more artistic depiction of fraudulent calumny, see Boticelli’s Calumny of Apelles. The painting has been described as follows:

On the right of it sits a man with very large ears, almost like those of Midas, extending his hand to Slander while she is still at some distance from him. Near him, on one side, stand two women—Ignorance and Suspicion. On the other side, Slander is coming up, a woman beautiful beyond measure, but full of malignant passion and excitement, evincing as she does fury and wrath by carrying in her left hand a blazing torch and with the other dragging by the hair a young man who stretches out his hands to heaven and calls the gods to witness his innocence. She is conducted by a pale ugly man who has piercing eye and looks as if he had wasted away in long illness; he represents envy. There are two women in attendance to Slander, one is Fraud and the other Conspiracy. They are followed by a woman dressed in deep mourning, with black clothes all in tatters—she is Repentance. At all events, she is turning back with tears in her eyes and casting a stealthy glance, full of shame, at Truth, who is slowly approaching.

In R. v. Muvunga, defence counsel tried to use the painting as a visual prop, to be referred to as an allegory about false accusations. The court rejected the bid. “While the painting is of great interest to art historians and other scholars, I find that it has no place in a modern Canadian criminal trial.”

Thanks for reading.

Paul Trudelle

17 Jan

Tattoo You

Paul Emile Trudelle General Interest, In the News Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

Tattoos are, without a doubt, popular. According to a clinical report in Pediatrics, in 2010, 38% of 18 to 29 year olds had at least one tattoo. A study conducted in 2015 found that 47% of Millennials had at least one tattoo. Tattoos, once the hallmark of rebel culture, have now crossed over into the mainstream. It may be that the rebels are the ones without tattoos.

Tattoos are now also making a mark on the administration of estates.

Take Chris Wenzel, who died in 2018. His dying wish was that his tattoos, which covered most of his body, be preserved and given to his wife. According to a CBC report, with the assistance of an organization called “Save My Ink Forever”, she was able to preserve Chris’ tattoos.

Legal issues relating to the process are discussed in the December 2019 issue of Step Journal. In an article entitled “Whose Skin Is It Anyway?”, authors Julia Burns and Matthew Watson discuss the legal implications of such tattoo preservation services from the point of view of English and Welsh succession law.

One issue is that in the common law, there is “no property in a corpse”. A person cannot dispose of their own body through their will. However, the authors note that courts are relaxing this rule, particularly where the body or parts have “a use or significance beyond their mere existence”.

Estate trustees have the responsibility of disposing of the body. The deceased’s wishes are not binding on the estate trustee. However, while not binding, they are relevant. The authors cite a decision, RE JS (Disposal of Body), [2016] EWHC 2859 (Fam), where the deceased asked that her body be cryogenically frozen. The deceased’s mother wanted to abide by these wishes, but her father did not. The court appointed the mother as estate trustee. The court could not order that the wishes of the deceased be followed, but did order that the father be restrained from interfering with the mother’s arrangements as estate trustee.

If a tattoo is property of the estate, how is it to be disposed of? The authors suggest that the will should specifically address this.

Another issue that the authors identify is whether an estate trustee would have an obligation to preserve a tattoo, assuming that it has value. Is such a tattoo an asset of the estate that the estate trustee must “call in”? There appears to be no easy answer to this. However, the authors conclude that “Common law’s strength is its ability to adapt to new social developments; treating preserved tattoos as art that can be disposed of in the same manner as any other chattel may be one of them.”

Thanks for reading.

Paul Trudelle

10 Jan

Posthumous Literary Works: Sir Terry Pratchett

Paul Emile Trudelle Estate & Trust, Estate Planning, General Interest Tags: , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Sir Terry Pratchett was a noted author and activist. His genre was fantasy, and more than 85 million copies of his books have been sold. He was most noted for his Discworld series of 41 novels.

Sir Terry Pratchett died on March 12, 2015 at the age of 66 as a result of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (which he referred to as an “embuggerance”). Prior to his death, he was a vocal supporter of Alzheimer’s research and assisted suicide.

Pratchett left a significant number of unfinished works upon his death. These works will never be enjoyed. Pratchett’s daughter, the custodian of the Discworld franchise, has stated that these works will never be published.

More definitively, Pratchett told his friend and collaborator, Neil Gaiman, that he wanted whatever he was working on at the time of his death to be destroyed. More specifically, he asked that his works and computers be put in the middle of the road and run over by a steamroller.

This wish was fulfilled on August 25, 2017. His hard drive was crushed by a vintage John Fowler & Co. steamroller named Lord Jericho at the Great Dorset Steam Fair. The destroyed hard drive was put on display at The Salisbury Museum

Presumably, the destruction was agreed to by his estate trustees. Otherwise, the works would fall into his estate to be dealt with as assets of the estate.

The wishes of authors with respect to their posthumous works are not always fulfilled. Notably, Franz Kafka asked his friend and literary executor Max Brod to destroy all of his works after he died. Brod ignored this request, and as a result, some of Kafka’s most famous works, The Trial, The Castle, Amerika and The Metamorphosis were published after his death. In an essay by Scott McLemee, it is noted that Kafka was a lawyer, and must have known that his intentions set out in a couple of notes would not be binding on his estate trustee.

Thanks for reading.

Paul Trudelle

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