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Appeal-Judicial Review - Fairness - Multi-party Evidence

. O’Shanter Development Company Limited v. Terry Babcooke et. al

In O’Shanter Development Company Limited v. Terry Babcooke et. al (Div Court, 2022) the Divisional Court considered a fairness issue against a landlord in an LTB rent reduction issue where there were multiple tenants but not all testified in person:
(d) The Member did not err in law by making findings and awarding remedies to Tenants who did not testify at the hearing about the "effect" upon them of the reduction of the facility. She did not deny the Landlord procedural fairness and natural justice.

[34] The Landlord argues that it is procedurally unfair to provide a remedy to Tenants who did not give oral testimony. The Landlord did not raise this issue with the adjudicator but raises it for the first time on this appeal.

[35] First, all the Tenants who were parties participated in the hearing, either through their lawyer or by attending in person. A party is not required to testify. The court can draw an adverse factual inference from the failure of a witness to testify in certain circumstances, but this is a matter of discretion in interpretation of the facts before the court rather than a requirement of law (Mudrazia v. Holjevac et al., 1969 CanLII 345 (ON SC), [1970] 1 O.R. 275, 8 D.L.R. (3d) 221; Godwin, paras 37-38).

[36] Second, the identities of the tenants were known to the Landlord and it could have called a tenant as its witness.

[37] Finally, the Board was permitted to use the testimony of individual Tenants about harm done to them to draw general conclusions about the effect of the Landlord’s actions on Tenants.

[38] The Landlord argues that this could only be done if a formal proposal to this effect had been made at the start of the hearing. I disagree.

[39] The adjudicator chose to base the quantum of compensation on deprivations and inconvenience that, according to her determinations of fact, were common to all Tenants. She explicitly rejected the alternative that some Tenants who testified should receive more compensation than others. Under such circumstances, it is not necessary for the Board to hear from every tenant.

[40] The appellate courts have directed that in circumstances such as this one, the Board should look to the interests of the tenants as a whole, rather than look to the evidence of impact upon individual use by the tenants of one unit (First Ontario Realty v Deng, 2011 ONCA at para 57).

[41] The Board is entitled to order an abatement for all tenants reflecting the average experience without requiring that each individual tenant be called to the stand (Godwin, supra at para 30).

[42] The tribunal had the power to determine its own procedures and to exclude any evidence that is unduly repetitious without the consent of the parties. The Board did not need to hear 23 witnesses about the loss of a locker.


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Last modified: 07-09-22
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