Ontario: Condo owners take note, a special assessment may not be a demand obligation

Valentina Vasilescu Tarko et al. v. Metropolitan Toronto Condominium Corporation 626 (MTC 626) et al. holds that a special assessment levied on a condo owner is not a demand obligation within the meaning of section 5(3) of the Limitations Act, 2002. The section provides as follows:

Demand obligations

For the purposes of subclause (1) (a) (i), the day on which injury, loss or damage occurs in relation to a demand obligation is the first day on which there is a failure to perform the obligation, once a demand for the performance is made.

Because the assessment provided a date for repayment, it wasn’t a demand obligation:

The appellants suggested that the Special Assessment was subject to s. 5(3) of the Limitations Act concerning demand obligations. A debt obligation that does not specify a date for repayment is a demand obligation. See Skuy v. Greenough Harbour Corp., 2012 ONSC 6998 (CanLII), 10 B.L.R. (5th) 146, at para. 31. The 2011 Special Assessment was made payable in three instalments, the first of which was July 1, 2011. Accordingly, the Special Assessment was an obligation which did specify a date when it was payable and it is not therefore a demand obligation. Section 5(3) of the Limitations Act has no application.

In his decision, Justice Marrocco also emphasised that there is no requirement for a limitations decision to refer to the specific wording of the Limitations Act,2002:

The appellants argued that the Deputy Judge’s oral reasons did not refer to the specific wording of the Limitations Act. The Deputy Judge was not required to refer to the specific wording of the Limitations Act.  A review of the oral reasons reveals that the Deputy Judge considered the relevant factors set out in s. 5(1) of the Limitations Act in deciding to stay the appellants’ claim. The Court of Appeal in Ali v. Triple 3 Holdings Inc., 2002 CanLII 45126, at para. 4,¸stated that “an appellate court should not presume that the judge of first instance was not aware of or failed to apply the appropriate legal test merely because the test is not explicitly set out in the judge’s reasons.” A judge’s reasons are adequate if they demonstrate that judge has considered the relevant factors and important issues in the case. In R. v. Sheppard, 2002 SCC 26 (CanLII), [2002] 1 S.C.R. 869, at para. 42, the Supreme Court quoted with approval the words of Major J. in R. v. R.(D.), [1996[ 2 S.C.R. 191: “where the reasons demonstrate that the trial judge has considered the important issues in a case, or where the record clearly reveals the trial judge’s reasons, or where the evidence is such that no reasons are necessary, appellate courts will not interfere.”

This is a point that bears remembering when considering whether to appeal from a limitations judgment, particularly from a judgment of the Small Claims Court.