The Rights of Owners to See Legal Bills (Subject to Redacting)

In the case of Emerald PG Holdings Ltd. v. Toronto Standard Condominium Corporation No. 2519, an owner made a request for various records, including legal invoices received by the condominium corporation from the corporation’s legal counsel.

The CAT confirmed that the owner was entitled to receive the invoices, but only after the invoices had been properly redacted for removal of privileged information and other information in Section 55(4) of the Act, including information about other owners. The CAT’s decision included the following:

Based upon such case law and the submissions of the parties, I find that the legal invoices in question are subject to both solicitor-client privilege and, where specifically relating to actual or contemplated litigation proceedings, litigation privilege and/or the exception set out in section 55(4)(b) of the Act.

The CAT went on to say that “redactions should be minimal, sufficient to remove just the information that is appropriately considered privileged or is otherwise exempted from disclosure under section 55(4) of the Act”.

The CAT said that privilege (whether solicitor-client privilege or litigation privilege) can also apply to information relating to the applicant owner.

The CAT also held that – on the facts of the particular case – there had been no waiver of privilege.

The CAT also confirmed reasonable costs for redacting at $30 per hour and two minutes per sheet. In our view, a higher rate for redacting may be reasonable in many cases, particularly where careful redacting is required with the assistance of legal counsel.

In summary, the takeaway from this case is that owners are entitled to see the corporation’s legal bills, subject to appropriate redacting.

Stay tuned to Condo Law News to keep up to date on the latest developments on record requests.