Mar 17, 2014

Summary of MacKay v. Nickason

MacKay v. Nickason, 1997 CanLII 11185 (SK QB)
The petitioner sought to establish a claim for unjust enrichment arising out of a long term common law relationship. She also claimed severance of a joint tenancy in relation to a home owned by them and an equal division of the net proceeds. The respondent sought a distribution of the equity from the sale of their home in proportion to their actual contributions, the return of personal property wrongfully withheld by the petitioner and repayment of a loan in the amount of $7,400.HELD: 1)The relationship amounted to a family unit and a common law relationship which existed for approximately eight years. There was an express commitment to the relationship for an extended period of time, sharing of a common principle residence, a sexual relationship, a desire by both to make a home together and to share responsibilities for the home and for child rearing of both the petitioner's and the respondent's children. There was a shared general recognition that the parties were a 'couple' and a 'family unit'. There was a degree of economic interdependence between the parties. If there had been original discussions about separate financial expectations, the passage of years would have tempered that position. 2)The three elements that must be established to support a claim for unjust enrichment include a demonstration that there has been an enrichment and a corresponding deprivation, and an absence of any juristic reason for the enrichment. There was an enrichment of the respondent by reason of the direct and indirect contributions, economic and otherwise of the petitioner and from his own efforts, family gifts and inheritances. 3)The quantum meruit approach was used as the value survived approach could result in an inequitable evaluation of the petitioner's contributions. A significant portion of the respondent's assets were comprised of farm land portion of which were owned prior to the commencement of the relationship and inherited from his mother's estate during the relationship. 4)A monetary award for unjust enrichment of $52,164 was to be paid to the petitioner based upon the value of services provided by the petitioner. Consideration was given to the value of assets brought into the relationship and owned at its termination and the value of benefits received by each. The petitioner received increased RRSP holdings, equity as co-owner of property in Toronto, the ability to obtain her four year certificate of Business Administration, equity in the Saskatoon residence and the establishment of a trust fund for her son. An hourly rate of $10.00 amounted to $16,560 per year to a total of $115,920 over the years 1988 through 1994. 5)The parties were entitled to one half of the net equity proceeds, including accrued interest from the sale of the residence. 6)The petitioner was to return forthwith certain items including those inherited from his mother, furniture acquired prior to the relationship and specifically purchased by the respondent during the relationship. 7)The $7,400 given to the petitioner for the purchase of a vehicle was a loan and not a gift and was to be deducted from the award. 8)The issue of child maintenance was not pursued at trial and the claim was dismissed.