Zant v. Zant, 2022 BCSC 2023 is a family law decision concerning a couple that were married in November 1999 and separated in March 2016.
In our first blog part on this case, we had a look at the highly unusual fact that a fraudulent application response had been filed on behalf of the Wife, which consented to the marriage annulment.
In this article we will take a closer look at the Husband’s application for damages and various other relief, alongside the court’s analysis of the Husband’s credibility.
Involvement of the Pension Plan
The pension plan initially got involved in the application when the Husband filed and delivered a copy of the annulment order to the pension plan. When the pension plan advised the Wife of the filing, she became distraught as she claimed she was unaware of any court proceedings, she did not sign any court order, nor was she was present for the audio hearing before the BC Supreme Court (the “BCSC”). After further investigation, the pension plan brought an application to set aside the annulment order on the basis that it was obtained by an abuse of process, fraud, perjury, or a deliberate attempt to mislead the court.
The pension plan’s application first came before the BCSC on March 21, 2022 and the parties appeared before the court on multiple occasions before all of their submissions on all of the applications were complete. The BCSC eventually added the pension plan as a respondent to the application.
Over the course of litigation, the Husband filed several counter-applications. The court stated the counter-applications did not clearly articulate the relief sought and proceeded to summarize the following orders the court understood the Husband applying for:
- An order for the trial judge’s removal from the case;
- An order transferring the case to the Salmon Arm Registry;
- An order declaring the Husband to be a “whistle-blower in the Private sector”;
- An order removing the pension plan from the action due to its continued intimidation of witnesses;
- An order that the Wife cease the harassment and abuse of the Husband;
- An order declaring the Husband incompetent due to his mental health; and
- An order for the payment of compensation to the Husband for damage to his health, mental well-being and lifestyle.
Dismissal of Judge Removal, Transfer of Case, Whistle-Blower Declaration
The court dismissed the counter-applications for recusal of the trial judge and the transfer to the Salmon Arm Registry. The court determined there was no factual basis for the trial judge to recuse themselves from hearing the applications. The court also found the Husband’s court filings were only marginally acceptable therefore the Husband’s claim the Kamloops Court Registry had unfairly rejected his filings was not sufficient reason to change the venue.
The court also dismissed the Husband’s application for an order “[t]o record that [the Husband was] considered to be a whistle-blower in the Private sector”. The court stated that it was unaware of any legal authority upon which it had jurisdiction to make such an order.
Analysis of Credibility
In determining whether to grant the remaining orders, the BCSC undertook an in-depth analysis of credibility of the Husband and his representatives. The court outlined the following concerns and findings:
- The Husband’s previous communications with the pension plan in which he stated that the marriage had been previously annulled by the Canadian Supreme Court. The court found this was not truthful.
- An October 2021 email from a representative of the Husband to the pension plan stating the courts were ordering the Wife be removed from the pension plan as various provincial and state laws had been violated. The court found this was not truthful.
- Two emails, attached as exhibits to the Husband’s affidavit, purportedly from the Senior Registry Manager, Registry Services, Ministry of Justice in Rarotonga, Cook Islands stating the marriage was a fraud or totally annulled pursuant to the laws of the Cook islands. The court was unable to determine if any of the communications were authentic.
- The commissioner before whom the Husband swore his affidavits for the various applications commissioning each affidavit as “a commissioner for taking affidavits for the Canadian embassy”. The court found that there was no evidence confirming the commissioner’s association with the Canadian embassy and that it was not satisfied that the commissioner was authorized to commission affidavits for use in Canada.
- The Husband’s claim that he had been in direct contact with the Canadian Embassy in Mexico and they had directed the current application to be adjourned immediately and that the Embassy would be sending in an “international human rights person”. The court found the Husband failed to adduce any evidence for this assertion and that this was another basis for which to find that the Husband was not a credible individual.
- The Husband’s spokesperson claimed that the pension plan had stopped a legal aid lawyer from entering the court room to bar them from assisting the Husband. The court found it “inconceivable” that counsel for the pension plan would interfere with another counsel representing a litigant before the court.
- The claim that a second spokesperson of the Husband, Wessel du Plessis, was a lawyer from England. Mr. Plessis advised that he had studied law but chosen not to practice. Further, he advised the court that the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia (“PGT“) had asked him to represent the Husband and claimed the PGT had delivered a letter directly to the court confirming their request. The court found these claims to be “not credible” and unlikely to be true.
Citing the above examples, the court found the representations made by the Husband and his representatives to be lacking in credibility. Accordingly, the court stated it would not give the representations any weight in the determination of the application.
Further Dismissals by the BC Supreme Court
In addressing the remaining relief sought by the Husband, the court dismissed the application to remove the pension plan from the proceeding as the evidence of intimidation by the pension plan was not credible. The court dismissed the application for an order that the Wife cease harassment and abuse of the Husband as there was no credible evidence of any harassment or abuse.
Further, the court dismissed the Husband’s application for an order “upholding the legal incompetence of [the Husband] due to mental health” as the evidence contained in his affidavits was unreliable. The evidence was in the form of affidavits from medical professionals, a lawyer, and Ms. Venter. The court found the witnesses to lack credibility because:
- the affidavits contained comments and opinions outside the scope of their expertise;
- there was no detailed description of the qualifications of the witnesses; and
- the witnesses had taken on the role of advocate for the Husband.
The BCSC also dismissed the Husband’s claim for damages as the Husband had not clearly identified or articulated a legal basis for the claim, no damages could flow from the dismissed claim of harassment and abuse, and there was a failure to file appropriate pleadings for the claims for damages.
The BCSC ultimately dismissed the Husband’s application.
Although imposters and fraudulent applications are normally not an issue in the majority of family law matters, issues concerning marriage, separation, annulment, credibility and pension benefits are common. If you or someone you know has questions about any of these issues, please contact Chantal Cattermole or anyone in the our Family Law group for more information.