Elbadawi v. R. – TCC: Crown awarded costs and disbursements of $86,240.14 to sanction conduct of taxpayer

Bill Innes on Current Tax Cases

http://decision.tcc-cci.gc.ca/tcc-cci/decisions/en/item/99963/index.do New Window

Elbadawi v. The Queen (August 27, 2014 – 2014 TCC 363) was an extremely rare example of the Crown being awarded virtually all of its costs on a solicitor-client basis (it had sought a lump sum award of $88,000). The Tax Court awarded costs of $80,000 plus disbursements of $6,240.14 (the full amount of disbursements claimed).

The decision is unusual because of the remarkable conduct of the taxpayer during the course of the appeal:

[25] The appeals of Mohammed Elbadawi took the majority of the Court’s time over the two weeks of hearings. My aforesaid remarks were focussed primarily at Mohammed Elbadawi, who chose to concentrate his efforts in attempts to denounce the actions and conduct of the CRA officials. He continued that course despite numerous objections by the Respondent and my repeated redirection back to the issues before me. The evidence supports that he is a well‑educated and highly‑experienced business person and, consequently, I cannot attribute his obstinance in maintaining his chosen course of conduct, despite my attempts to dissuade him, to anything but a pursuit of ulterior motives involving the CRA.
Improper, Vexatious or Unnecessary Stage in the Proceeding

[26] Steps in the proceedings, that were unnecessary and could have been avoided, were listed in paragraph 22. Briefly, those included: late-filing of the Notice of Appeal, necessitating the filing and hearing of a motion to dismiss by the Respondent; missed deadline for satisfying undertakings, necessitating the Respondent’s request for a show cause hearing; adjournment of a settlement conference (for which costs, however, have already been awarded to the Respondent); and a unilateral application for time and place of hearing filed by the Appellant before rescheduling of the settlement conference.

Any Other Relevant Matters

[27] At paragraphs 18 and 19 of the Respondent’s submissions, the following was stated:

18. On the second last day of the hearing, after the evidence of both parties was concluded, the Appellant, Mohammed Elbadawi, approached Sal Bayoumi, who had finished his testimony, and served Mr. Bayoumi with a Statement of Claim.

19. The Appellant is the plaintiff in the Statement of Claim. The Defendants are Mr. Bayoumi, Joyce Lee (former CRA auditor), Barry Atwood (from the Ontario New Home Warranty Program), and Jinli Ding and Toshiko Nakano (purchasers of the Forest Grove Property). The Statement of Claim is for:

“a) Damages for interference of contractual rights, defamation of character, conspiracy, perjury, false pretence and harassment in the amount of $2000000.

b) Prejudgment and post judgment interest in accordance with the provision of the court of Justice act.

c) Punitive damages in the amount of $200000

d) The plaintiff cost of this action

e) Such further and other reliefs as the honourable court deem just.”

[28] The Respondent suggested that the Court should “draw the conclusion that the Appellant used his Tax Court appeal as a way to gather evidence to be used in his civil action.” (Respondent’s Submissions, paragraph 22). The Appellant’s entire focus throughout the course of the hearing was the conduct of various CRA officials. I repeatedly warned the Appellant that I would give no weight to such evidence and that it was of no assistance to me in determining the issues before me. Despite this, he ignored any efforts on my part to properly focus on the appeals. I agree with the Respondent that it is no coincidence that the Appellant blatantly disregarded my warnings because his goal was a fact-finding mission against the CRA in order to implement his Statement of Claim against a number of CRA individuals as well as an individual from the Ontario New Home Warranty Program and several purchasers of properties he was involved with. It is no doubt the reason why my many, many warnings fell on deaf ears. It is apparent that Mr. Elbadawi had no intention of deviating from his mission.

Comment: It is highly unlikely that the normal appellant will face a cost award anywhere near as high as that awarded against Mr. Elbadawi, but then again it is very rare to see an appellant flout the processes of the Tax Court in the fashion described in this decision.