Certificates of Pending Litigation in BC

Drein v. Puleoi, 2016 BCSC 593 is a civil case about cancelling a certificate of pending litigation (CPL). A CPL is a charge on title alerting potential buyers that the property is subject to a legal dispute. CPLs are used with great frequency in family law and thus it is helpful to review Drein v. Puleoi.

The Plaintiff sold ½ interest in her home to the Defendant. The parties lived in separate units for many years. The Defendants obtained an order for partition and sale of the property. The Plaintiff registered a CPL because she had sunk about $75,000.00 into the Defendants’ unit for bylaw compliance. She was amenable to removing the CPL if the disputed amount was paid into trust from the proceeds of sale to await the determination of the dispute. The Defendants brought an application to cancel the CPL.

The Defendants succeeded because the Plaintiff’s CPL existed to protect a monetary interest. Pursuant to section 215 (1) (a) of the Land Title Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 250, CPLs can only protect an interest in land. Mr. Justice Macintosh found that the Plaintiff’s CPL had the effect of providing a pre-trial enforcement of her monetary claim before she established her case. He noted that CPLs “are designed to preserve land claims pre-trial by preventing the land from passing to innocent third parties…thereby undermining the claim.”

Drein v. Puleoi is a must read for BC family lawyers because it is essential to have a sense of when and why to register a CPL.

Jeffrey L. Hartman

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