The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a precedent-setting drop in the stock markets across the globe. Could executors be held liable for the estate’s losses in their stock portfolios? The case of Groome Estate v. Groome, 2016 ONSC 7850 (“Groome”) is a cautionary tale to those estate trustees that make speculative investments on behalf of an estate.
The task of an estate trustee is rarely an easy one. Much less so when a beneficiary of the estate was born in 1925, is believed to have lived in the United Kingdom, and whose whereabouts are not forthcoming from any of the deceased’s family members. On top of this, he is rumoured to have had an affair with his sister-in-law, after which he was threatened by his brother and may have had reason to go into hiding. The above facts are drawn from a real case, Steele v. Smith, which was recently decided in Ontario. Did the estate trustee in this situation have an obligation to attempt to find the elusive beneficiary? What should he have done if he couldn’t find him? These questions, and other related legal issues, will be discussed in this blog.
As set out in the blogs of my colleagues, no discussion of the doctrine of unjust enrichment is complete without a thorough discussion of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Moore v. Sweet.
Lawyers and laypeople alike may be aware of the equitable principle that no one should be able to profit from committing a wrongful act. The doctrine of unjust enrichment is similar and deals with transfers of property from one person to another where there is no valid reason to allow the transferee to retain the property. The doctrine has specific application in estates litigation.
The Supreme Court of Canada explains that “[r]emedies for unjust enrichment are restitutionary in nature; that is, the object of the remedy is to require the defendant to repay or reverse the unjustified enrichment”.
This blog will examine some of the defences that can be asserted to a claim for unjust enrichment.
This blog is intended to look at the last part of the unjust enrichment test and what exactly the court means by “juristic reason” and what the courts have found such reasons to include.
Unjust enrichment is an independent cause of action whereby the plaintiff seeks either a monetary or proprietary award against the defendant. The basis for the claim is that the defendant was enriched at the plaintiff’s expense without juristic reason.
“Unjust enrichment” is a very evocative legal phrase. The use of the term “unjust” tells us that something important is happening that merits our attention, and indeed that is the case.
Many clients intuitively know they have been wronged. However, what feels like a meritorious claim sometimes has no readily apparent basis in law. In some instances, the courts have historically addressed these moral claims by employing principles of "equity" to give deserving parties a remedy. One such tool employed by the courts is the doctrine of unjust enrichment.
An individual who seeks to have a will admitted to probate begins proceedings by applying for a certificate of appointment of estate trustee with a will. A person opposed to the will being admitted to probate need only file an objection (or a caveat as it is still called in some provinces).
A fundamental proposition of the common law with its own impressive Latin maxim (Nemo dat quod non habet) is that one cannot pass title to property one doesn’t own.