Can a Records Request Be Made for an Improper Purpose And/or an Abuse of Process? A Recent CAT Decision Weighs In

A recent decision from the Condominium Authority Tribunal (the “CAT”), Gale v Halton Condominium Corporation No. 61 (“Gale”), dealt with the issue of whether the minutes of a board meeting were “adequate” in accordance with section 55(1)2 of the Condominium Act (the “Act”).

As our readers know, the CAT has dealt with the issue of the adequacy of minutes (including board minutes) previously. You can find one of our previous blogs on this topic here.  

In Gale, an owner challenged the adequacy of certain Board minutes. The Tribunal held that the Board Minutes provided by Halton Condominium Corporation No. 61 (“HCC 61”) were “adequate”. The settled law on this issue (cited by the Tribunal) is that while there is an implied requirement that the minutes be accurate, the Act does not impose a requirement for the minutes to contain comprehensive facts and details surrounding every decision.

In other words, while Board Minutes must contain sufficient detail to understand the Board’s decisions, there is no requirement under the Act to provide a “granular” level of detail or a verbatim account of a meeting.

The other issue of note in the Gale decision was the question of whether the Applicant’s request for records was made for an improper purpose and/or was a vexatious abuse of process. There was evidence before the Tribunal that the applicant owner had previously made numerous record requests and had engaged in a letter writing campaign against the board, all arising from the owner’s disagreement with the management of HCC 61. Based upon that background evidence, the Tribunal concluded that the owner did not have proper reasons for his records request.

The tribunal ultimately decided not to make an order restricting the applicant owner’s access to the CAT. However, the adjudicator ordered the owner to pay $2000 in costs to HCC 61.

It appears to me that the CAT is becoming increasingly aware of the possibility that some condominium owners may use the records request mechanism for other ulterior motives. The Gale decision provides a reminder that, in such situations, there are tools in the CAT “toolbox”, such as an order restricting access to the CAT or a substantive cost award that can address the conduct of such owners.

Stay tuned to Condo Law News to keep up to date on the latest developments in condominium law. We have an exciting line up of new content coming this year, so stay tuned!