Ontario Court Rules on Decade-Long Property and Membership Dispute

  • 23 octobre 2021
  • Esther S.J. Oh

After a lengthy and complicated dispute between members of the Hamilton branch of the Royal Yugoslav Army Combatants’ Association in Canada-Draza Mihailovic (the “RYACA”), the Ontario Superior Court of Justice released its September 1, 2021 decision concerning membership and decision-making rights concerning property owned by RYACA in Varjacic et al. v Radoja et al. The dispute largely centered around who had the right to determine RYACA’s future, as well as the future of its main asset, a large parcel of land in Stoney Creek, Ontario (the “Property”). RYACA is an unincorporated association which is a member of The Royal Yugoslav Army Combatants Association “Draza Mihailovic” (the “Association”); the rights and obligations of RYACA members are governed by the Association’s constitution (the “Constitution”).

A dispute arose at RYACA’s 2010 annual general meeting (“AGM”). RYACA’s then-president, Dragan Varjacic (“Danny”), had attempted to recruit new members in response to RYACA’s dwindling membership and collected membership fees, but failed to properly account for and provide receipts for those fees. Further, questions concerning the validity of the new members were raised. Nonetheless, it was “assume[d] that the people present had paid and were members”, and an executive board was elected (the “2010 Board”).