Declining Influence of Lawyers

May 2021

There appears to be movement toward lessening the influence of lawyers when it comes to condominium corporation matters.

The process of having condominium corporations represented by a lawyer, and another lawyer representing the other party, is expensive and a cause of conflict.  Lawyers benefit financially regardless of who wins.  The system is designed such that there is typically a winner and loser while both parties pay lawyers for services.  Opportunities for compromise are reduced when a winner and loser are determined by the process.

Advice and guidance by lawyers are necessary when it comes to legal matters.  When it comes to community, this advice and guidance can lead to increased conflict between boards and the owners they represent.

The Auditor General’s Value-for-Money Audit: Condominium Oversight in Ontario (2020) notes that “condo owners are not on a level playing field with condo boards at the Tribunal.”  In appearances of cases heard by the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT), condo owners were self-represented 84 percent of the time.  Corporations were represented by a lawyer 91 percent of the time.  Also, in 2020, CAT expanded on the issues they are prepared to hear.

CAT was envisioned as a tribunal not requiring participation of legal counsel.  Through their approach, rulings and internal changes they appear to be trying to improve dispute resolution while reducing community conflict and cost.

Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO) appears to be making changes to better represent condo owners and residents that pay for its operation by reducing the influence of external interest groups which includes lawyers.  In 2020, four Condominium Authority of Ontario directors resigned citing “recent conflict of interest and governance concerns”.

These changes appear to be part of an ongoing process to better support condominium owners.