Litigation – Vexatious Litigants in the Courts?


Under Section 18 of the Supreme Court Act of British Columbia and Section 29 of the Court of Appeal Act of British Columbia, a person can be deemed a vexatious litigant.  Section18 of the Supreme Court Act is stated below and Rule 29 is nearly identical.

18   If, on application by any person, the court is satisfied that a person has habitually, persistently and without reasonable grounds, instituted vexatious legal proceedings in the Supreme Court or in the Provincial Court against the same or different persons, the court may, after hearing that person or giving him or her an opportunity to be heard, order that a legal proceeding must not, without leave of the court, be instituted by that person in any court.

In a recent BC case, Hoessmann Estate v. Aldergrove Credit Union, 2018 BCSC 256, a litigant was deemed by the Court to be a vexatious litigant.  The circumstances of this case and the litigant are as follows.

The litigant was designated as the Executor of her father’s estate and proceeded to take legal action in regards to property that was devised in the Will.  The property had a mortgage that the litigant defaulted on which resulted in a subsequent foreclosure and sale.  The litigant sued the bank who foreclosed on the property as well as the purchaser of the property.   The litigant alleged fraud, bad faith and a multitude of other causes all without grounds to do so.  This commenced an over five year process of proceedings in which the litigant brought any possible proceeding she could even if the claim had no merit.

During all of this time, the other beneficiaries under the Will sought for a variation of the Will which was granted removing her as the Executor under the estate which meant that she no longer had standing to bring action on behalf of the estate with regard to the foreclosed property.

The Court stated at paragraph 57 of the decision: “As a result of the foreclosure and the choices she made in depleting the advances she received from the estate, the litigant is now destitute and lives in a women’s shelter.”  This is a very unfortunate result.  It is hard to know exactly what motivated the litigant to pursue so many frivolous claims, but it may be a lesson learned for her and other persons with similar proclivities.

When all was said and done, over 23 Masters and Judges had heard applications resulting in costs of over $200,000 being awarded against the litigant.  The costs awarded against her were more than three times the value of the mortgage on the property that was the subject of all the litigation.

The litigant was deemed a vexatious litigant which meant that she would be unable to bring action against the bank or the purchaser of the property without first seeking leave form the court.