Michael Clifton

Associate Counsel | Waterloo Region

519.593.3230

Portrait of Michael Clifton

Overview

Michael is a recognized expert in Ontario condominium law with broad experience covering development, management, governance, and dispute resolution matters. His primary focus is on helping clients succeed in making, maintaining, and restoring positive condominium communities in compliance with relevant law and common sense.

Michael has provided legal assistance and advice to Ontario condominium developers, corporations, boards, managers, and unit owners for over 20 years. He has been a director on both local and national levels of the Canadian Condominium Institute, published numerous articles and other reference materials, and is a popular presenter and instructor at industry conferences and seminars.

Since 2017, Michael has served as a member and vice-chair of the Condominium Authority Tribunal of Ontario, mediating and adjudicating cases within the Tribunal’s jurisdiction. He was a court appointed condominium administrator, has been an expert witness in condominium-related court proceedings, and has often been retained by other condominium legal counsel to assist their clients in resolving difficult disputes.

Michael obtained his LL.B from the University of Toronto in 1998, after receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees in philosophy from the University of Waterloo. He was called to the bar in June 2000. Michael articled at Fasken Campbell Godfrey LLP. He founded Clifton Kok LLP in 2007 with Mark Kok. Michael and Mark moved their practice together to Miller Thomson LLP expanding the firm’s condominium development and management law practice areas.

Condominium Development:

Michael guides clients through all stages of development – from initial conception, consultation, and land acquisition, to planning approval, document preparation, registration, sales, corporate organization, and turnover – for all types of condominium plan (including standard, phased, vacant land, common elements, and leasehold), whether it’s a new-build project or conversion. Michael also handles applications for Land Titles Absolute status and other matters adjacent to the development process.

Condominium Governance and Management:

For existing condominium corporations, Michael provides comprehensive direction and assistance in all matters relating to management and governance, including the interpretation, amendment, and enforcement of the condominium’s key governing documents, condominium liens, dispute resolution, and less common matters such as amalgamation and termination.

Michael also provides alternative dispute resolution services, particularly but not exclusively helping to mediate disputes between condominium corporations and their owners, developers, or other corporations.

Before dedicating his practice almost exclusively to Ontario condominium law in 2002, Michael explored a variety of practice areas, including intellectual property, immigration, and general real estate law, while articling at Fasken Campbell Godfrey LLP and then as an associate lawyer with Baker & Associates in north Toronto.

Michael has served as a director of various community organizations, including the Grand Philharmonic Choir and Leading Tone Arts Productions. He has more than 40 years’ experience in lay ministry and provides both administrative and ecclesiastical leadership in his faith community. He currently sits on the steering committees of Interfaith Grand River and Christians Together Waterloo Region and is a member of the organizing committee of the Interfaith Community Breakfast that takes place annually in Waterloo Region. In 2012, Michael founded the non-profit, community music festival, Strummerfest, which is held annually in the City of Waterloo. The event is dedicated to the memory of Joe Strummer and raises awareness and money for local suicide prevention and social service charitable organizations.

Professional achievements & leadership

  • Initiated the Ontario chapter of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society - an international non-profit professional association that encourages lawyers to "strive through public service and professional excellence to promote fairness and virtue founded upon the rule of law" 2023.
  • Obtained ACCI (2009) and LCCI (2021) designations from the Canadian Condominium Institute (CCI).
  • CCI National Executive Board member, National Education Committee member, and National Executive Liason for Ontario region chapters, 2016-2019.
  • Participant with other industry professionals on round-tables and panels consulting the Province of Ontario with respect to proposed amendments to condominium legislation, 2013-2015.
  • Director and executive (vice-president, president, past-president) of CCI's Golden Horseshoe Chapter, 2009-2015.
  • Honorary member of the Brant Condominium Corporations Association since 2008.

Thought leadership

Publications
  • "Up and Across, " CM Magazine, Spring 2020
  • "Pro Tips for Achieving Compliance with New Law, " CM Magazine, Spring 2018
  • "How Safe is Your Office? " Ontario Home Builder, Spring 2016
  • "How the Proposed Reforms Might (or Might Not) Help, " CM Magazine, Spring 2015
  • "Principles in the Condominium Act, 1998, " CM Magazine, Spring 2012
  • "Questions and Answers, " (with K. Sales) Condo News, Spring 2012
  • "How do Boards Get Paid? " The Condo Voice, Summer 2011
  • "A Bit About Proxies,” The Condo Voice, Winter 2011
  • "Questions and Answers, " (with A. Siaroff) Condo News, Winter 2011
  • "Coming and Going on the Right of Accessibility," Spring 2010, Condo News
  • "Condominium Liens," 2009/2010-1Issue, CCI Review, The Newsletter of the Canadian Condominium Institute - London and Area Chapter
  • "What the Condominium Board Should Be Considering Every Year – An Annual Checklist,” The Condo Voice, Spring 2010
  • "Effective Condominium Management – A ‘Team Sport’,” (with S. Dooman), CM Magazine, Summer 2010
  • "Obligations & Liabilities of a Condominium Corporation and its Board of Directors," The Condo Voice, Summer 2009
  • "Smart Metering and the Declaration," CM Magazine, Summer 2008
  • "What's Wrong with "Group" Section 98 Agreements?" CM Magazine, Winter 2008
  • "Explaining and Defining the 'Standard Unit'," 2007/2008-1 Issue, CCI Review, The Newsletter of the Canadian Condominium Institute - London and Area Chapter
  About Condo (informational memoranda)
  • Lawyer Be Good, and What Happens When She’s Not, March 2017
  • Timely Lien Registration Necessary to Protect Priority, August 2016 – with Jessica Spataro
  • ‘Business Judgement Rule’ Affirmed for Condominiums, September 2016
  • Pay What You Should, or Pay Even More Later On, June 2016
  • Good Faith and Honesty on the Rock, June 2016
  • Annual Checklist Update 2011: New Issues for a New Year, January 2011
  • Charter Rights and Communications, February 2011
  • Re-disclosure and the Condominium Act, Section 55, February 2011
  • Keep it Simple; Do it Right, April 2010
  • How Do Boards Get Paid?, June 2009
  • Conduct Not Oppressive, But Likely Still Not Right, June 2009
  • Requisitioned Meetings, March 2008
  • A Bit About Proxies, October 2008
  • Information Meetings, December 2008
  • Determining and Extending Confirmed Occupancy Dates, April 2007
  • Amending the Declaration or Description, April 2007
  • Organization and Turn-Over of a Condominium Corporation, June 2007
  • Matters of Privacy, September 2007
  • A Planners' and Municipalities' Guide to the Condominium Act, 1998, By Craig Robson, Michael Clifton, Greg Carpenter, Ron Danks and Avril Lavallee, published by CCI-Golden Horseshoe Chapter (2005)
  • Essential Issues for Realtors in the Condominium Act, 1998, By Craig Robson, Michael Clifton and Ron Danks, published by CCI-Golden Horseshoe Chapter (2004)
  Presentations

In addition to the specific conference presentations and courses listed below, since 2007 Michael has participated in numerous general and themed panels, “leaders circles,” roundtable discussions, and Q&A sessions relating to Ontario condominium law hosted by the City of Cambridge, the City of Waterloo, Stantec, BMO, Sanderson Management Inc., Coldwell Banker Peter Benninger Real Estate Brokerage, Brant Condominium Corporations Association, and at conferences and other events of the Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario (ACMO) and chapters of the Canadian Condominium Institute (CCI). Michael was keynote speaker at annual general meetings of the Brant Condominium Corporations Association each year from 2008-2015, and has participated annually in the popular CCI London & Area Chapter’s program, “There are No Stupid Questions,” since 2017.

  • “Aging in Place and Human Rights,” CCI (Kitchener), April 2024
  • “Property Management Issues,” CCI (Kitchener), October 2023
  • “Condominium Governing Documents,” CCI (Kitchener), May 2022
  • “Condominium Board Obligations,” CCI (Kitchener), May 2018
  • “Bill 106,” CCI (Kitchener), October 2015
  • “Amendments to the Condominium Act,” CCI (London), November 2015
  • “Condominium Governing Documents,” CCI (Hamilton), May 2009
  • “Condo Insurance – Who Is Responsible?” Toronto Condo Show, October 2008
  • “Condominium Disputes,” CCI (London), November 2007
  • “Fraud,” CCI (Kitchener), Spring 2006
  Educational Programs
  • “Buying and Selling New and Used Condominiums” (KW Association of Realtors, Sept/Nov 2007, Nov/Dec 2008, October 2009, October 2011, January 2013, Feb/Mar 2015, November 2016, February 2018, April 2021, June 2022)
  • Pre-Level 100 Condominium Director’s Introductory Presentation (CCI Golden Horseshoe Chapter, May 2009, May/June 2010)
  • Level 100 Condominium Directors’ Course (CCI Golden Horseshoe Chapter, April 2007, April 2008, October 2016)
  • Level 200 Condominium Directors’ Course (CCI Golden Horseshoe Chapter, October 2007, October 2008, October 2009, April 2010, Spring/Fall 2011, Spring/Fall 2012, September 2013, October 2013, September 2014, October 2015)
  • Level 300 Condominium Directors’ Course (CCI Golden Horseshoe Chapter, May 2013)

Community involvement

  • Steering Committee (Board) member, Christians Together Waterloo Region, 2015-present
  • Founder/Producer, Strummerfest (community-based charity fundraising music festival and related events), 2012-present
  • Steering Committee (Board) member, Interfaith Grand River, 2010-present
  • Organizer, Multifaith Prayer Vigil for victims of Sri Lanka bombings, 2019
  • Speaker (Christianity), Ahmadiyya Muslim Ja'amat's World Religions Conference, Waterloo, 2018
  • Charity Fundraising Concert Producer: From Rock to Rhapsody (2011); Out of the Ashes (2013)
  • Director & Secretary, Grand Philharmonic Choir (formerly, Kitchener Waterloo Philharmonic Choir), abt. 2002-2007
  • Director, Leading Tone Arts Productions (dedicated to the artwork of David Tomlinson and Amanta Scott) (late 1990's/early 2000's)
  • Member, Metro Toronto Multifaith Antiracism Committee, 1996-97

Professional memberships

  • J. Reuben Clark Law Society
  • Canadian Condominium Institute

Bar admissions & education

  • Ontario, 2000
  • 1998 LL.B. (University of Toronto)
  • 1994 M.A. (University of Waterloo) – Philosophy
  • 1992 B.A. (4-yr) (St. Jerome’s University / University of Waterloo) – Philosophy
  • 1988 Non-degree studies (York University) – courses in Administrative Studies and East Asian History