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CONSUMER AGREEMENTS - Leases of goods - Contracts - Fraudulent misrepresentation

Monday, March 02, 2020 @ 8:58 AM  

Lexis Advance® Quicklaw®
Action by the plaintiff financing company seeking judgment against the defendant Gee Force pursuant to a lease for two commercial trucks and the corresponding guarantee of Heer. Counterclaim by Gee Force for damages for fraudulent misrepresentation and conspiracy. Heer, who did not speak or read English, was Gee Force’s past sole director and officer. The plaintiff’s witnesses testified the lease and guarantee were orally translated into Punjabi for Heer at a meeting. Heer denied receiving any explanations of the documents he signed. He did not sign bills of sale at the meeting. Bills of sale were subsequently signed by Towers, an employee of Gee Force. Gee Force made no payments under the lease. The trucks were never insured for road use and were not removed from the lot of the dealer, Harbour International. The plaintiff repossessed the trucks and sold them, leaving an outstanding balance of $170,313.

HELD: Action allowed; counterclaim dismissed. It was reasonable for the plaintiff to infer Towers was in an agency relationship and had ostensible authority to sign the bills of sale for Gee Force. Heer knew the documents he signed were part of a commercial transaction involving the trucks. He had an obligation to take reasonable care to ensure the documents he signed were not fundamentally different from what he had been led to believe. Heer was liable due to the personal nature of the guarantee. An agency argument between the plaintiff and Harbour International was not based on a reasonable interpretation of the commercial relationship between the parties, in which the plaintiff was merely a financier. The plaintiff was protected by the terms of the lease and could not be found liable for representations that might have been made by Harbour International. The elements of the tort of civil conspiracy were not met. The plaintiff was granted judgment for the balance owing of $170,313 and special costs on a solicitor and client basis.

CIT Financial Ltd. v. Gee Force Logistics Inc., [2020] B.C.J. No. 21, British Columbia Supreme Court, L.D. Russell J., January 8, 2020. Digest No. TLD-March22020001