Saturday, June 29, 2013

Court of Appeal Dismisses Appeal in Scholz v. Scholz

In reasons for judgment released on June 23, 2013, the Court of Appeal dismissed Ruth Scholz's appeal in Scholz v. Scholz, 2013 BCCA 309.

The claim is about a family conflict arising from the construction of a coach house by the plaintiff on land owned by her son and daughter-in-law. When the plaintiff's son and daughter-in-law sold the property, she sought a share of the sale proceeds. The trial judge rejected her claims in resulting trust, finding that she did not contribute funds to the initial purchase of the property. He also rejected her claim in unjust enrichment finding that the coach house did not add any value to the property.

The trial judge did make a modest award to the plaintiff on the basis of an imputed family arrangement. Although the plaintiff and her son and daughter-in-law did not have an agreement as to what would happen if the land were sold, the trial judge made an award on the basis of what the parties reasonable expectations would have been had they set their minds to this issue. He reasoned that they would likely have agreed that she should receive some compensation for the expense in constructing the coach house. To quantify the compensation he took her initial expenses and then depreciated that amount by 10 per cent each year on a declining balance to reflect the benefit she received occupying the house.

I have summarized the facts in greater detail on my post about the trial decision here, and I suggested in that post that the trial judge, Mr. Justice Saunders' approach was novel in British Columbia.

Madam Justice Neilson writing for the Court of Appeal essentially agreed with all aspects of the trail judge's decision.

The "imputed family arrangement" may be a developing type of claim in British Columbia.

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