Recent case law: Costs awarded against lawyer for bringing ex parte motion

In the case of Sangha v Sangha, 19 R.F.L. 342 (Ont. S.C.J.), the Superior Court of Justice awarded significant costs against the lawyers for the mother, who brought an unsuccessful ex parte motion against the father for custody of the child. This motion was brought in Brampton, where the mother was living after leaving the family home with the child, even though the child’s habitual residence was in Kitchener. Although the ex parte order was initially granted, after further litigation, it was overturned and the child was returned to live with her father in Kitchener.

Justice Campbell relies on Rule 24 of the Family Law Rules to make the costs order and notes, with respect to the duty of lawyers to ensure their clients are telling them the truth:

Advocates must closely guard their representations to the court to ensure that those assertions are accurate, fair and without embellishment, overstatement or exaggeration. While, as the case law indicates, lawyers must discharge their obligation to their clients’ cause with vigour and without fear or favour, they remain officers of the court.

The mother’s lawyers were ordered to pay $13,000 to the husband as well as to pay the costs of the motion itself.

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