Nick Poon Comments on Anti-Black Racism in Commercial Lease Dispute for The Lawyer’s Daily

Nick P. Poon, B.Sc. (Hons.), B.A., J.D.Business Disputes, Civil Litigation, Commercial and Contract Litigation, Commercial Contracts, Commercial Leasing, Commercial Litigation, Contract Disputes, Contract Termination, Injunction & Specific Performance, Real Estate Litigation0 Comments

Nick Poon was recently asked by The Lawyer’s Daily to comment on the Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision in Elias Restaurant v. Keele Sheppard Plaza Inc., 2020 ONSC 5457.

The Lawyer’s Daily article is found here: Court cites ‘prejudices’ to Black tenants in overturning landlord’s eviction bid.

In this case, the tenant was a husband and wife team that operated a successful restaurant/bar offering African and Caribbean cultural foods primarily to the black community.  The tenant had spent $150,000 in leasehold improvements when it took over the lease in 2013.  The lease included two further 5-year renewal options, upon delivery of written notice at least six months before the lease expired.

Although the tenant attempted to contact the landlord, both before and after the deadline, to start the renewal process, the landlord appeared to have avoided its telephone calls.  The tenant brought an application for relief from forfeiture after it missed the deadline to provide written notice to renew the lease, and the landlord sought to evict the tenant from the premises because the tenant allegedly did not attract “like minded family-oriented customers”.  Justice Morgan stated:

While a single adjudication dealing with a discreet conflict between a commercial Landlord and Tenant cannot possibly address society’s many challenges with respect to racial justice, it equally cannot ignore them.  At the very least, the societal realities pertaining to Black businesspeople like the Tenants must be factored into the exercise of the Court’s discretion in considering equitable remedies like injunctions and relief from forfeiture.

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About the Author
Nick P. Poon, B.Sc. (Hons.), B.A., J.D.

Nick P. Poon, B.Sc. (Hons.), B.A., J.D.

Practitioner in Civil Litigation with a focus in insurance defence, real estate litigation, condominium disputes and commercial litigation. Bio | Contact

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