In a decision released February 8, 2021, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice accepted the Town of Caledon’s motion to find Darzi Holdings Ltd., Rafat General Contractor Inc., and Layth Rafat Salim aka Carlo Salim in contempt for breaching an injunction order that required the defendants to comply with municipal by-laws concerning the use and zoning of their lands and to remove a trespassing fence from Town property. The contempt order followed years of non-compliance by the defendants.
The defendants acknowledged that they breached the injunction order, but claimed, in part, that they should not be found in contempt because they were unable to comply due to alleged impacts on their business as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The court agreed with the Town’s argument that any alleged impacts of COVID-19 should be disregarded because: 1. the defendants did not present any evidence of the financial impact of COVID-19 on their business; and 2. The defendants “[do] not have the right to decide that [their] companies’ finances take precedence over compliance with the court’s injunction.” The Court found that “If business hardship were a defence to compliance with an order, the law would truly be a paper tiger.” In other words, COVID-19 cannot be used as an excuse to flout the law. The sentencing hearing in this matter will likely occur in the coming months.
Cassels represented the Town of Caledon with a team consisting of Melissa Winch, Raivo Uukkivi and Marisa Keating (Municipal, Planning & Environmental) and Robert Sniderman (Litigation).