Lessons from Modabber v. Kermanshahan

  • 15 février 2024
  • Justyna Waxman, Torkin Manes LLP

Lawyers should appreciate that it takes years to earn a solid reputation but mere moments to destroy it.”

This was the strongly worded caution that Kaufman J. delivered to counsel appearing before him on a recent 14B motion in Modabber v. Kermanshahani  involving what turned out to be a dispute over an inconsequential sum being released from the proceeds of sale of a matrimonial home.

In the case in question, the parties had reached an agreement that each would receive a sum of $75,000 from the proceeds. They also agreed that the husband would reimburse the wife 50% of the costs of renovations up to $7,500 plus 5% interest on the amount to be reimbursed. The parties’ agreement was, as these interim resolutions often are, without prejudice to either party’s position regarding the ultimate division of proceeds.

The deal fell apart when the husband, after requesting proof of the source of funds used to pay for the renovations in question, suspected that the expended funds came from a joint bank account to which he no longer had access. Nevertheless, the husband offered to release $7,050 to the wife from his $75,000 of proceeds, an amount $450 shy of the agreed-upon $7,500 ‘cap’.

In response to the husband’s offer, the wife served the husband with a 14B motion, in which she sought an order enforcing the parties’ agreement together with costs.

The wife went on to serve the husband with a 14B motion, in which she sought an order enforcing the parties’ agreement together with costs. When asked to withdraw her 14B motion and consent to the release of funds pursuant to the parties’ agreement, she refused, demanding that she was entitled to costs of her 14B motion. Two days later, the wife demanded reimbursement from the husband for the renovation costs in the amount of  $9,332.39, a request that inexplicably deviated from the parties’ agreement on a $7,500 cap.

By the time the matter reached Kaufman J., what remained at issue before the court was a dispute over a meager $450 in reimbursement, all the while ample funds remained in trust following the disbursement of the agreed-upon $75,000, and the parties had another pending court appearance in a few weeks where this issue could have been addressed.

To say that Kaufman J. had lost his patience with the parties and their counsel would be an understatement. His Honour went on to say: