People make mistakes and judges are people too…In Wang v. Sigouin 2017 BCCA 372 the parties married in 1993 and separated in 2015. The couple lived with their two children in Shanghai but had real estate in Vancouver, including a two bedroom apartment with a tenant and a one-bedroom unit that was available for family use when visiting Vancouver.
Despite the fact that litigation had already been commenced by the husband in China, the wife brought an application to the court in British Columbia asserting that she lived in British Columbia with her high-school-age daughter and sought an order for exclusive occupation of the Vancouver two-bedroom apartment.
The husband responded to the application arguing that the BC court did not have jurisdiction over the parties because neither of them ever resided in BC and also challenged the wife’s application for occupation of the tenanted apartment as it was not the parties’ “ordinary place of residence” as required by the law.
The British Columbia Court of Appeal determined that the chambers judge had been mislead and that the evidence before him confirmed that neither parent nor children resided in BC.
The evidence revealed that the parties’ daughter attended school in Shanghai. Because of the inaccurate submissions he received, the chambers judge ordered exclusive occupation of the apartment to the wife and pending the eviction of the tenant, the husband was ordered to pay the wife $400 per night so that she could pay for hotel accommodation in Vancouver, until the tenant’s departure.
The judge failed to consider the husband’s challenge to the court’s jurisdiction likely because he was told that the wife and daughter lived in BC and owned real estate in BC. Without assessing the matter the court simply agreed with the wife’s counsel that the court had jurisdiction.
Ultimately, the appeal court reversed all of the judge’s orders and sent the case back to the court to determine the issues in accordance with the law and the correct facts.
An unfortunate case where additional legal fees were incurred by the parties to correct an injustice, however, it is the responsibility of counsel to ensure that accurate information and correct legal principles are before the court.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang