The law is fairly clear that once an individual has brought forward their legal proceedings and the Court has made a final ruling in them, that individual cannot again commence legal proceedings regarding the exact same issue if they didn’t like the Court’s ruling in the first proceeding. This is called the doctrine of res judicata. It is also the case that should an individual repeatedly commence unsuccessful proceedings about the same matters and against the same individuals in either the Supreme Court of BC or the Court of Appeal of BC, an option is to seek a vexatious litigant order under s. 18 of the Supreme Court Act [RSBC 1996] Chapter 443 or s. 29 of the Court of Appeal Act [RSBC 1996] Chapter 77.
In Curic v. Rainbow’s End Housing Co-operative, 2021 BCCA 380, Rainbow’s End Housing Co-operative (the “Co-op”) sought an order pursuant to s. 29 of the Court of Appeal Act prohibiting Ms. Curic from bringing further proceedings against the Co-op in the BC Court of Appeal without leave of a justice.
The history of the matter was substantial. In August 2012, the BC Supreme Court granted to the Co-op an order for possession of Ms. Curic’s unit at the Co-op, thereby recognizing the Co-op’s termination of her membership with the Co-op. Ms. Curic sought a review of that order for possession, which was dismissed. She then appealed the matter to the BC Court of Appeal but didn’t pursue her appeal after the Court of Appeal dismissed her application for a no fees order. In August 2018, Ms. Curic again commenced proceedings in the BC Supreme Court claiming essentially the same relief as she had previously sought. Master Baker dismissed her claim and Justice Ball dismissed her subsequent appeal of Master Baker’s decision. On appeal, Ms. Curic again applied for a no fees order, which was dismissed by Justice Willcock on the basis that appeal clearly lacked merit. She applied for a review of Justice Willcock’s decision to a division of the Court of Appeal, which was dismissed in October 2019.
Ms. Curic did not take any steps to pursue her appeal and in January 2021, she was notified by the Court of Appeal that the matter had been placed on the Court’s inactive list. Ms. Curic applied to have the matter removed from the inactive list, which application was dismissed by Justice Dickson. She then applied to review Justice Dickson’s dismissal before a division of the Court of Appeal. At that same hearing, the Co-op sought a vexatious litigant order against Ms. Curic. The Court of Appeal held that based on the history of the proceeding in the Court, Ms. Curic met the definition of a vexatious litigant. The court observed that repetitive litigation wastes scarce resources. Where such conduct remains unchecked, it can have the effect of undermining respect for the courts and thus may negatively affect the administration of justice.