Wednesday, May 4, 2011

If You Need a Lawyer for Divisional Court Appeals, Doug Levitt is my First Choice

There are a lot of tenant appeals to Divisional Court.  And just maybe, Divisional Court is getting tired of all the frivolous appeals lacking merit, brought only for delay.  I get a lot of calls asking about representation for appeals of Landlord and Tenant Board decisions.  But first there is an internal review process at the Landlord and Tenant Board, and certainly I or any other competent paralegal can file a review at the Board.  The cost is just $50, and it's a fairly quick process.

However more often than not, original decisions at the Board are upheld on review, and landlords (or tenants) want to bring the case to the Ontario Divisional Court.  This is a mid-level appellate court to which all Landlord and Tenant Board appeals go if there is a claim of an error in law.  Of course from there, some cases go to the Ontario Court of Appeal.

Paralegals in Ontario are not permitted to do appeals work either of decisions of agencies, boards or commissions, or of the Small Claims Court.  So when I have a client needing a solicitor in Ontario to bring or defend an appeal, I am careful to chose someone who I know understands not just appeals process and rules of procedure, but also knows the Residential Tenancies Act. and is familiar with all the case law.

I've referred about a dozen appeals to a local lawyer named Doug Levitt from the firm Horlick, Levitt and Di Lella.  Doug does a bit of trial work at the Landlord and Tenant Board, but mostly he does commercial litigation, debt recovery, real estate, condominium work etc.  But he excels at the appellate work, and every case I've given him has had a positive result.

Just last week, Doug had a great win for his client in Whittaker v. Elsbury, [2011] Divisional Court File No. DC-11-003-00.  The tenant filed an appeal of a Landlord and Tenant Board decision, but as is often the case, it was just about delay.  The tenant then failed to provide a transcript or "perfect his appeal" which he was required to do within 60 days of filing.  He sought another delay.  Doug filed a motion to dismiss the appeal and for costs, arguing that there were no live legal issues in support of the appeal and that the issues pleaded on appeal had been dealt with at the Board.  The Court agreed, dismissed the appeal and lifted the stay.  However they also did something rare in that they ordered costs on a substantial indemnity basis against the tenant, fixed in the amount of $5,000.  Doug argued before the Court, in essence arguing for all landlords, that frivolous appeals and delay ought not to be tolerated and that the Court ought to set an example. Well they certainly did.

In one case, Doug took a file of mine to Divisional Court, won at Divisional Court, and then the legal clinic acting for the tenant sought leave to appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal.  Leave was granted, and Doug did a superb job, having the highest court in the province uphold the original decision.

Doug has become a personal friend over time, and I trust him implicitly.  I wouldn't refer my clients to counsel who I didn't have the utmost faith in.  I hope you don't ever need him, but if you do, his number is (416) 512-7440 x25 or you can find him at:  http://www.hldlawyers.com/.

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