Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Search for decisions citing this decision

"...2. The Remedy of Rectification

[13] Rectification is an equitable remedy designed to ensure that one party is not unjustly enriched at the expense of another. A court will rectify an inaccurately drawn written agreement so that it conforms to the agreement the parties intended to make. In Downtown King West Development Corp. v. Massey Ferguson Industries Ltd. 1996 CanLII 1232 (ON C.A.), (1996), 28 O.R. (3d) 327 at 336 (C.A.), Robins J.A. explained the remedy’s underlying rationale, while acknowledging that rectification cannot be used to correct every mistake.

The remedy of rectification is available only in certain defined circumstances and cannot be invoked to correct every mistake. In principle, rectification is permitted, not for the purpose of altering the terms of an agreement, but to correct a contract which has been mistakenly drawn so as to carry out the common intention of the parties and have the contract reflect their true agreement. The remedy is normally granted only where the mistake is mutual or common to the contracting parties...

[14] RBC, however, argues that to obtain an order for rectification Ellis must show more than a common intention. He must also satisfy Sylvan’s four prerequisites to rectification. I do not agree.

[15] Sylvan was a case of unilateral mistake. The party seeking rectification, because of his own negligence, had mistakenly signed an inaccurately drawn document. Binnie J., writing for court, set out four prerequisites for parties seeking rectification for unilateral mistake: (i) a previous oral agreement inconsistent with the written document; (ii) the other party knew or ought to have known of the mistake and permitting that party to take advantage of the mistake would amount to unfair dealing; (iii) the document can be precisely rewritten to express the parties’ intention; and (iv) each of the first three prerequisites must be demonstrated by convincing proof.

[16] The case before us is not a case of unilateral mistake. On the trial judge’s reasonable view of the record, it is a case of common mistake: when entering into the written agreement neither party intended to create two independent $700,000 obligations. Both thought the obligations were connected.

[17] The prerequisites in Sylvan do not apply to cases of common or mutual mistake. The following statement by Binnie J. para. 31 of Sylvan clarifies the scope of the application of the prerequisites: “The traditional rule was to permit rectification only for mutual mistake, but rectification is now available for unilateral mistake (as here), provided certain demanding preconditions are met.” Sylvan, in effect, broadened the circumstances in which courts could rectify a unilateral mistake, allowing rectification subject to the “demanding preconditions” outlined above. It left untouched the circumstances, under the “traditional rule,” in which courts could rectify a mutual or common mistake. See also John D. McCamus, The Law of Contracts (Toronto: Irwin Law, 2005), at 555-62; Wasauking First Nation v. Wasausink Lands Inc., [2004] O.J. No. 810 at paras. 76-85 (C.A.) (discussing Sylvan but not applying the Sylvan preconditions to a case of mutual mistake).

c) Later conduct

[32] Although unnecessary to the trial judge’s finding of common intention, the trial judge concluded that the parties’ later conduct was consistent with that finding. Evidence of later conduct consistent with a claim for rectification is relevant and admissible. See Bercovici v. Palmer (1966), 59 D.L.R. (2d) 513 (Sask. Q.B.), aff’d (1966) 59 D.L.R. (2d) 516 (Sask. C.A.)...."

No comments:

Post a Comment