Ontario Superior Court of Justice sets orders in complex construction lien reference

July 19, 2019

Multiplex Const. Can. Limited v. Princes Gates Hotel Limited Partnership, 2019 ONSC4367

In a July 19, 2019 decision, The Honourable Master C. Wiebe of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled against a motion for a sealing order over fraud allegations against the Plaintiff, a construction manager at risk, in favour of the Defendant, the owner of a luxury hotel complex and sports facility in Toronto, Ontario, in addition to ruling in a motion to compel a non-party witness residing in a foreign jurisdiction to be examined for discovery, lest the witness be prohibited from giving evidence at the trial hearing itself.

The rulings were part of a series of orders by The Honourable Master Wiebe, as the seized construction lien master, in a complex, multi-party construction lien reference between the Plaintiff and Defendant Owner. The dispute started in or about 2016 during the construction of the hotel, when the Plaintiff registered construction lien claims in the sum of approximately $50 million alleging that the Defendant Owner wrongfully terminated its CCDC 5B construction contract prior to the completion of the project. The Defendant Owner advanced a $150 million counterclaim for damages arising from its costs to complete the project, in addition to significant delays allegedly caused by the Plaintiff, and allegations of fraud.

The dispute also involved the Defendant Owner’s assumption of approximately 47 construction trade contracts in the project following the Plaintiff’s departure, thereby creating 47 different prime contracts and a fracture in how statutory holdback was to be determined, retained and released.

Notably, the Defendant was able to reduce the lien security posted into court to $28 million, following which approximately $20 million in holdback was ultimately distributed to trades from the Court-held security under Court supervision as the respective lien periods expired.

Miller Thomson advised the Defendant Owner in the lien proceedings with a team led by Riccardo Del Vecchio, and comprised of Manav Singhla, Enzo Di Iorio and Sam De Caprio (Construction Litigation).