Saturday, February 7, 2015

An injunction will be granted to protect a leasehold interest even if damages could suffice

In a decision that seems contrary to specific performance precedent the Ontario Court of Appeal has held an injunction will protect a leasehold interest even where damages would otherwise be sufficient. 

1465152 Ontario Limited v. Amexon Development Inc., 2015 ONCA 86:

[22]       First, the Landlord contends that in Pointe East Windsor Limited v. Windsor (City), 2014 ONCA 467, 374 D.L.R. (4th) 380, at para. 17, this court held that equitable relief, such as a permanent injunction, is only available where damages are an inadequate remedy. The Landlord submits that the leased premises are not unique, so an award of compensatory damages to the Tenant would serve as an adequate remedy.  However, in Pointe East Windsor Limited, the issue of remedy arose in the context of an action for breach of contract, not where the holder of an interest in property, such as the Tenant, was alleging a wrongful interference with a proprietary interest.   

[23]       As the law in Ontario currently stands, different considerations apply in the latter circumstance, as was explained in Robert J. Sharpe, Injunctions and Specific Performance, loose-leaf (consulted on 30 January 2015), (Toronto: Canada Law Book, 2014), at 4.10 and 4.20:

Where the plaintiff complains of an interference with property rights, injunctive relief is strongly favored.  This is especially so in the case of direct infringement in the nature of trespass.

The reason for the primacy of injunctive relief is that an injunction more accurately reflects the substantive definition of property than does a damages award.  It is the very essence of the concept of property that the owner should not be deprived without consent. An injunction brings to bear coercive powers to vindicate that right.  Compensatory damages for a continuous and wrongful interference with a property interest offers only limited protection in that the plaintiff is, in effect, deprived of property without consent at an objectively determined price.  Special justification is required for damages rather than an injunction if the principle of autonomous control over property is to be preserved.  A damages award rather than an injunction permits the defendant to carry on interfering with the plaintiff's property.  [Footnotes omitted.]

No comments: