By Don Lapowich

In an interesting Alberta case, a chartered accountant was involved in disputes with both the builder of her residential condominium and the condominium’s property management company.

During the disputes the chartered accountant sent threatening emails to the salesperson and a representative of the property management company. She identified herself as a chartered accountant.

Because of the email, complaints were made to the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants. An investigation was conducted and allegations of unprofessional conduct were found. It should be noted that this finding was made although it involved a private matter of the chartered accountant. The complaint was not made by a client of the CA or a person with whom the CA had a professional relationship. Because she was found guilty of unprofessional conduct in sending threatening emails, it was ruled that she brought disgrace to the profession. – Erdmann v Complaints Inquiry Committee, 2013 ABCA 147



Professional misconduct can be costly

As an example of what can happen to a professional guilty of misconduct, I am reciting a discipline case against a funeral director who signed six false embalming reports. I am sure the professional thought that she was safe in not being detected, but in fact she went through a lengthy hearing in the Discipline Committee under the Ontario Funeral Directors and Establishments Act and was given a 10-month suspension of her license.

She appealed to the License Appeal Tribunal and was found guilty of professional misconduct and they “revoked her license”. She then went to the Divisional Court, which dismissed her appeal. Leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada was dismissed.

It’s a drastic result for any professional including the very hefty cost in going through four levels of judicial procedures.


Municipality ruled not liable

A couple purchased property “previously owned” by the municipality of Chatham-Kent in Ontario. At that time the property was used as a dump. The couple was unaware of the property’s prior use.

When they sought a permit to build a house, they discovered the prior use by the municipality. The couple then sued the vendor, the real estate agent and the municipality.

The vendor offered to buy the property back for the purchase price of $80,000. This was

refused. Instead,  the couple went ahead with their plans to build the house, which required soil remediation and special construction methods.

The couple settled with the real estate agent for $100,000. They also obtained a trial award against the municipality for the additional construction costs, environmental costs (leading to delay) and diminished value of property (because of stigma), less the $100,000 recovered from the real estate agent.

On appeal, the Ontario Court set aside the judgment against the municipality. The reasoning was that the couple was aware that they would have to incur additional costs to construct a home before they even began, and they would also have to deal with environmental issues that would lower the value of the property because of the stigma of prior use. The municipality could not be liable for more than the purchase price. However, because the couple refused the vendor’s offer to pay back the purchase price, this broke the causal link (causation) with the municipality and assumed the risk when they commenced construction. — Biskey v. Chatham-Kent (Municipality), 2012 ONCA 802

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