2017 Harvest

2017 Harvest

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Drainage dispute between neighbours leads to comtempt order

In a dispute between property owners over drainage, Madam Justice Eberhard of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ordered imprisonment of up to 20 days for one of the defendants after he and his wife failed to carry out drainage work earlier ordered by the Court.  The Court had already provided several opportunities to "purge" the contempt through compliance with the order.  Justice Eberhard provided the following comments on "neighbour disputes" near the end of her Reasons:

This court has plenty of experience with neighbour disputes. It is among the range of differences between people where passions run high. People really care about their homes, their autonomy in the living space, their peace in the environment they have carve out for themselves, their dreams and plans.

The dispute itself destroys that peace, those dreams and plans, and not only for the people directly involved: the whole neighbourhood is disturbed. Factions can form. Blame is debated. Everybody wonders if they are next.

The court is presented with neighbour disputes that may have no solution that satisfies everyone. Someone is necessarily disappointed. Seldom is there a right answer on these things.

But there has to be an answer. The only service a court can be in these neighbour disputes is to make a decision. Then, the neighbours must abide by the decision. There is clarity and the argument can stop, albeit with one of the neighbours entirely unsatisfied.

It is the only way it can work. The court can be of no service whatever unless its orders are complied with.

Justice Eberhard also had this to say about lawyers:

The best advocacy in such disputes arises even before the matter comes to court where counsel can assist the court in providing that service. The best advocacy invokes the perspective and wisdom of professionals experienced with the ravages of litigation, organized and equipped not only to advance their clients’ position in a calm and measured way, but also to seek out and imagine a realistic, peace-building solution. (This is a rebuke.) 

Read the decision at: Evans v. Snieg.