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Estoppel & Laches

Posted on August 10, 2016 | Posted in Civil Litigation, Five Liners

McMurtry v McMurtry 2016 Ont SCJ

Son commenced an action for a declaration that he was the owner of his deceased father’s shares in corporation. Mother claimed that shares passed to her as beneficiary of father’s estate. A declaration is a pronouncement of a legal relationship without an order of enforcement. The son’s request for a declaration was just that. There was no request for an order of enforcement. He did not need the court to order his mother to do anything; rather, the trustees of the estate would merely carry out their duties in the normal course. Accordingly, the Limitations Act did not apply. Mother had written a letter, on which the son relied, acknowledging that the son owned the shares. The court held that there was laches in mother’s claim because objectively she knew of all the facts that gave rise to the claim and still wrote the letter; she acquiesced to the son’s ownership. The judge also found that the son had been prejudiced by mother’s actions. Finally, the judge found mother was estopped by convention from claiming ownership in the shares; she was also estopped by her own representation that son owned the shares.


Jonathan Speigel


Written by Jonathan Speigel Jonathan Speigel, the founding partner of Speigel Nichols Fox LLP, leads the litigation and construction practices.


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