In Danos v. BMW Group Financial Services Canada, 2014 ONSC 2060, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice dealt with a summary judgment motion brought by the defendants to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims that it forged their signatures on car leasing documents. The plaintiffs had leased a luxury car from the defendants but failed to keep up with the lease payments. The defendants took steps to repossess the car and commenced an action to recover its losses. After receiving the defendants’ productions, the plaintiffs’ allegedly discovered that their signatures were forged on a number of leasing documents, and commenced a fresh action claiming damages arising from the alleged fraud. The defendants brought a summary judgment motion to dismiss the action.
The Supreme Court of Canada in Bruno Appliance and Furniture, Inc. v. Hryniak, 2014 SCC 8, recently summarized the elements of the tort of civil fraud as follows: (1) a false representation made by the defendants; (2) some level of knowledge of the falsehood of the representation on the part of the defendants (whether through knowledge or recklessness); (3) the false representation caused the plaintiffs to act; (4) the plaintiffs’ actions resulted in a loss.
The Court held that this was an appropriate case for summary judgment since, based on the evidence, it was able to make the necessary findings of fact and apply the law to the facts to achieve a fair and just result. Specifically, the Court made the following findings of fact: (1) there was no fraud – the plaintiffs’ evidence of the alleged fraud was deficient in many respects; (2) even if there was fraud, the plaintiffs did not suffer any damages – which is fatal to the action; and (3) the action was commenced outside the limitation period – although fraud tolls the limitation period, fraud was not proven in this case. The Court summarily dismissed the action.
If you require legal advice with respect to civil fraud, please contact us for an initial consultation.