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In the Courts: Investor’s ‘extraordinarily sloppy’ litigation ends in loss of $400K deposit

RVS Investments Inc. argued sale price of a Vancouver property should have been lower after discovering defects from nearby demolition
The B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver

A real estate investment company won’t get its $400,000 deposit back on a Vancouver property after it failed to attend a summary trial over the property sale without a reasonable explanation for missing it.

While the defendant sought a $1,500 award from RVS Investments Inc. for bad faith use of the courts, a judge also set that aside, saying RVS’s behaviour was “equally consistent with that of an essentially self-represented litigant who has an extraordinarily sloppy and dilatory approach to litigation.”

RVS entered into a property sale agreement with HH Maple Investments Ltd. in April 2020, with an agreed-upon sale price of $8.2 million for an apartment building in Vancouver’s West End.

RVS put down a $400,000 deposit on the property but allegedly found defects in the building from the demolition of an adjacent building, causing the financier to withdraw and RVS to not meet the sale agreement’s completion deadline, according to a B.C. Supreme Court decision penned by Justice Murray Blok.

RVS sued HH Maple in October 2020 for failing to disclose the defects in the building, arguing the true price of the property should have been substantially lower, according to Blok. RVS also reportedly registered a certificate of pending litigation on the property, arguing the deposit meant RVS had an interest in the property.

Over the next year, the two parties entered into a settlement agreement to revive the property sale.

HH Maple successfully quashed the certificate of pending litigation in a hearing RVS never attended, and RVS filed a second lawsuit against HH Maple and a second certificate of pending litigation against the property. Both would then be quashed in another hearing never attended by RVS, Blok wrote.

RVS was served with a notice of application to dismiss the first lawsuit in a summary trial in August 2022, according to the decision. That summary trial came and went in September, with RVS once again not attending.

The judge granted HH Maple’s application, including an order that RVS no longer had a claim to the deposit and an order for special costs against RVS to cover HH Maple’s legal fees.

RVS filed an application to reverse that decision, saying it was never served with HH Maple’s August 2022 application.

But Blok said RVS principal Rajvir Parmar “failed to provide an adequate or plausible explanation for his asserted lack of notice.”

“His evidence on the subject consists of two bald, unsupported statements that he did not receive the application documents despite the several ways in which HH Maple delivered those documents,” Blok wrote.

Part of the issue was RVS’s lawyers filing a notice of intention to withdraw as the company’s lawyers in October 2021 but failing to complete the process until the day after it was served with the notice of application in August 2022, according to Blok.

But Blok noted RVS was “entirely silent” on why the lawyers didn’t forward the application to him, adding RVS’s argument that HH Maple mailed its service to an old address was similarly dubious. While RVS claimed it moved as of June 2020, its 2021 annual report still used the same address, along with an email address HH Maple also sent the notice of application to, Blok noted.

RVS also didn’t explain why it never received the email, according to Blok.

Blok added that RVS’s failure to attend that hearing was consistent with two other hearings and that RVS had done nothing to advance the case.