Conspiracy Claim Against Lawyers Dismissed

Published date04 August 2022
Subject MatterLitigation, Mediation & Arbitration, Real Estate and Construction, Criminal Law, Trials & Appeals & Compensation, Landlord & Tenant - Leases, White Collar Crime, Anti-Corruption & Fraud
Law FirmGardiner Roberts LLP
AuthorMr Stephen Thiele, James R.G. Cook and Dara Hirbod

Conspiracy is a complicated tort. In order to succeed in such a claim, a plaintiff is required to establish various elements. Where those elements do not exist, a defendant can bring a summary judgment motion to have the claim dismissed.

Locke v. Sultana

In Locke v. Sultana, 2022 ONSC 4347, the defendants, who included lawyers that acted for the plaintiff's ex-spouse, successfully obtained summary judgment to dismiss the plaintiff's actions for conspiracy and other causes of action on the grounds that there were no genuine issues for trial.

The plaintiff had originally commenced an action against his ex-spouse in connection with the transfer of her interest in their matrimonial home to herself as a tenant-in-common. That transfer severed their prior ownership interest as joint tenants.

The ex-spouse's transfer had been recommended by her family law lawyer, Sultana, and was carried out by a real estate lawyer, Murphy.

In an action commenced against his ex-spouse, the plaintiff sought a declaration that he owned a 100% beneficial interest in the matrimonial home and that the ex-spouse's transfer was void under the Fraudulent Conveyances Act.

The plaintiff then commenced two further actions. In the second action, the plaintiff sued his ex-spouse and Sultana for deceit, concerted action liability, and punitive and exemplary damages.

In the third action, the plaintiff sued his ex-spouse, Sultana and Murphy for the tort of conspiracy, unlawful conduct conspiracy, concerted action liability, malicious falsehood by slander of title, breach of the Fraudulent Conveyances Act, and deceit.

The defendants each sought summary judgment to dismiss these actions. In response, the plaintiff brought three cross-motions on various matters, each of which was dismissed.

With respect to the summary judgment motions, the court concentrated on whether the plaintiff had a claim for conspiracy and whether the ex-spouse's transfer to herself constituted a fraudulent conveyance.

A motion for summary judgment is guided by a well-established test. Under Ontario's Rules of Civil Procedure, a court is mandated to grant summary judgment where it is satisfied that there is no genuine issue that requires a trial.

In Waxman v. Waxman, 2021 ONSC 2180, the court held that there is no genuine issue that requires a trial if the judge is able to reach a fair and just determination on the merits on a summary judgment motion.

On such a motion, the rules permit the court to weigh the evidence...

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