A Failed Appeal: The Consequences of Not Complying with Court Orders

Del Vecchio v Del Vecchio, 2018 ONCA 334

This Ontario Court of Appeal decision serves as the perfect example of why it is so important that parties follow and comply with court orders. As the Court of Appeal notes, “if court orders are to have any meaning they must be respected.”

Background

The appellant appeals the order of Justice Paisley, dated October 13, 2017 – that which struck his pleadings and allowed the respondent to proceed to an uncontested trial.

The Court of Appeal noted that in essence, the appellant was trying to appeal the underlying order of Justice Horkins, dated July 27, 2017 – which formed the basis for Justice Paisley’s order.

Prior to the orders of Justice Paisley and Justice Horkins, the appellant’s pleadings were initially struck in January 2016. This order was then set aside in April 2016, and the appellant was given another chance.

The appellant failed to provide adequate financial disclosure, and so a second motion to strike was brought in July 2016. This motion was adjourned, and then adjourned a second time and convened to a case conference instead, on very specific terms.

The conference was again adjourned on terms that required the appellant to produce specific financial disclosure, including an income analysis and business valuation, all by October 28, 2016.

The appellant failed to provide the specified disclosure on time – i.e. producing an income analysis and business valuation on November 15, 2016.

Again, on December 9, 2016, Justice Myers made a further order requiring the appellant to produce disclosure by certain days and to further pay support arrears.

By February 2017, the appellant had yet not complied with Justice Myers’ December order; but Justice Myers gave the appellant yet another chance – giving him til March 2017 to produce the disclosure.

The appellant again did not comply with Justice Myers’ order.

On May 16, 2017, the respondent renewed the motion to strike. The appellant’s then lawyer got off the record – and so the appellant was granted yet another adjournment. This time however, Justice Horkins made it very clear that if the appellant failed to comply with the terms of the adjournment, the respondent could proceed to an uncontested trial.

The appellant again did not comply with the terms of the order; and he further did not seek an extension. And so, in September 2017, the respondent brought a 14B procedural motion – that which resulted in Justice Paisley’s October 13, 2017 order.

As a courtesy – and not because she was required to do so – the respondent served the appellant with her notice of motion.

It was only in response to the respondent’s September 2017 motion that the appellant finally took some steps to comply with the previous court orders.

Analysis

The Court of Appeal noted that this matter has been ongoing much longer than it should have – and all because of the appellant’s refusal to obey court orders.

By the terms of Justice Horkins’ July 27, 2017 order, the appellant had no right to notice of the procedural motion.

Even at the Court of Appeal, the appellant still remained non-compliant with court orders.

Given the many chances that the appellant was afforded to rectify his situation, the Court of Appeal found that the appellant’s appeal had no merit. The court concluded that in the circumstances, Justice Paisley did not err in proceeding as he did. The appellant was given numerous chances to comply with court orders and meet his obligations – but the appellant failed and refused to do the bare minimum.

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