Failure to remove building results in contempt order

   Litigation Municipal Law

2016 BCCA 201 Langford (City) v. dos Reis concerns a failure to abide by a Court of Appeal issued order to remove a building. The refusal to abide by the order resulted in a contempt finding.

On intention to breach the order the Court had this to say:

[24] It is not controversial that the first two elements of civil contempt are satisfied: the order is clear and the respondent was fully aware of it. The real issue in this case is the third element: intent. The respondent’s position is simply that her mind was on saving the building, not on breaching the order. That is not a valid defence to civil contempt. I refer again to Carey v. Laiken:

[38] It is well settled in Canadian common law that all that is required to establish civil contempt is proof beyond a reasonable doubt of an intentional act or omission that is in fact in breach of a clear order of which the alleged contemnor has notice: Prescott-Russell, at para. 27; College of Optometrists, at para. 71; Sheppard, at p. 8; TG Industries, at paras. 17 and 32; Bhatnager, at pp. 224-25; Sharpe [Robert J. Sharpe, Injunctions and Specific Performance, 2d ed. (Aurora, Ont.: Canada Law Book, 1992) (loose-leaf updated November 2014, release 23)], at para. 6.190. The Court of Appeal followed this approach. As it noted, to require a contemnor to have intended to disobey the order would put the test “too high” and result in “mistakes of law [becoming] a defence to an allegation of civil contempt but not to a murder charge” (2013 ONCA 530, at para. 59). Instead, contumacy or lack thereof goes to the penalty to be imposed following a finding of contempt: para. 62; see also Sheppard; and Sharpe, at para. 6.200.

[25] There cannot be the slightest doubt that the respondent intentionally omitted to remove the building. I find that the third element of civil contempt has been made out.

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