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No 'reprehensible' conduct by Richmond developer during trial, judge finds

Anderson Square Holdings Ltd. was ordered to pay pre-sale buyers $13.1 million in damages.
Anderson Square Holdings Ltd. cancelled pre-sale contracts for condos at the Alfa tower on Buswell Street during its construction. The building has now been completed.

A group of Richmond condo buyers' application to punish a developer and one its directors for their conduct during a lawsuit was struck down in court.

More than 30 people took Anderson Square Holdings to court for cancelling their pre-sale contracts for condos in the Alfa tower at 6833 Buswell St.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kevin Loo awarded $13.1 million in damages to plaintiffs in a decision issued Feb. 9, but he dismissed the lawsuit against Anderson Square's directors Keung Sun (Sunny) Ho and Jia An (Jeremy) Liang. 

Following the parties' submissions regarding costs, Loo issued a judgment earlier this week to dismiss the plaintiffs' submissions for special costs to punish Anderson Square and Ho's conduct during the trial. He also rejected Ho and Liang's requests for the plaintiffs to bear their costs.

The plaintiffs claimed the defendants "sought to derail the trial" by filing a notice of intention to make a proposal under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act on the eve of the trial. 

They also claimed Anderson Square acted dishonestly when terminating the pre-sale contracts and that Ho was dishonest at trial.

However, Loo held that, based on the evidence, he was unable to find that Anderson Square's conduct was to derail the trial. He added dishonest conduct before the trial should not be considered when deciding on special costs.

While Ho's evidence at trial was "successfully challenged in a number of ways which raised doubts about his reliability and credibility," it was insufficient for Loo to conclude Ho's conduct was "reprehensible."

Loo also found Anderson Square's conduct did not constitute "unusual circumstances" warranting increased costs, which are awarded to address "grossly inadequate or unjust" cost awards.

"In my view, the positions taken by the defendants in this proceeding were advanced in a professional manner, albeit unsuccessfully," he wrote. 

"The trial was not characterized by incivility or impertinence. The allegations were serious, but not unusually so."

In terms of Ho and Liang's costs, Loo found the dismissed claims against them "did not add significant extra expense to the trial." For example, they used the same legal counsel as Anderson Square and gave evidence both on their own behalf and for Anderson Square

Loo concluded all plaintiffs' costs, save for one, are payable by Anderson Square as set out in his February decision.

With files from Bob Mackin

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