Penchant for Litigation Not Enough to Prevent Court Applications

In Goldstick Estate (Re), 2022 ABQB 222 the Court wrote an endorsement for the purpose of providing a background and reasons for granting a procedural order (an order which generally helps move the litigation of matter along by setting out the dates when certain steps happen).

Goldstick Estate involved two estates. Mr. Goldstick, a beneficiary of one estate, wanted to make an application to remove the personal representative of both estates and make an application to compel the personal representative to provide accounting with respect to the administration of the estate Mr. Goldstick was a beneficiary of.

However, the Procedural Order prevented Mr. Goldstick from bringing these applications until certain conditions were satisfied – specifically, Mr. Goldstick had to first pay $10,000 in security for costs and second, Mr. Goldstick was required to disclose all the estate documents he had in his possession.

The personal representative argued Mr. Goldstick should be prevented from bringing any further applications because he had not complied with the Procedural Order and Mr. Goldstick’s “penchant for litigation” would impoverish the estate.

The Court reviewed the issues arising from the Procedural Order. First, the Court addressed the issue of costs. Mr. Goldstick argued he had paid his security for costs, and this, the condition of the Procedural Order satisfied. However, the issue was Mr. Goldstick had not paid the costs to the estate, which the intended condition of the Procedural Order.

Second, the Court considered whether Mr. Goldstick should be prevented from bringing the two applications:

The Court, at paragraph 21, reviewed the law on preventing Mr. Goldstick from bringing his applications:

The estate is the applicant. As applicant, the estate bears the onus of proof and the burden of persuading the court that no further applications should be brought by Mr. Goldstick because of outstanding costs, or that his ability to do so should be limited.

As the Court of Appeal so aptly said, in any such decision the court must strike a fair balance between controlling disproportionate and excessive litigation and access to justice. Finding such a balance is particularly important where there is a finite if not dwindling fund at stake on the one hand and on the other hand where a litigant seeks to assert a statutory right.

Ultimately, the Court held that Mr. Goldstick was permitted to bring his two applications, but the personal representative of the Estates was permitted to apply to the Court to prevent Mr. Goldstick from bringing any additional applications.

If you are wanting to move your estate litigation along, contact one of the lawyers at Kantor LLP. We are happy to answer questions.

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