In the recent case of Convoy Supply Ltd. v. Elite Construction (Windsor) Corp., the Plaintiff, Convoy, brought a motion for a determination that the debt owing by the Defendants, Elite Construction, and Kostas Michos, the officer, director, guarantor, and directing mind of Elite Construction, survives Kostas’ bankruptcy pursuant to section 178(1)(d) (the “Section”) of Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. B-3, (the “BIA“).
Section 178(1)(d) states:
An order of discharge does not release the bankrupt from any debt or liability arising out of fraud, embezzlement, misappropriation, or defalcation while acting in a fiduciary capacity or, in the Province of Quebec, as a Trustee or administrator of the property of others.
Convoy supplied construction materials to Elite Construction for which payment was not made. On July 28, 2020, Convoy filed a claim against Kostas’s company and Kostas himself, seeking payment of $92,412.15 in damages for breach of trust, among other things. The claim was made pursuant to the Construction Lien Act (“CLA”) and the Construction Act (“CA”). The claim alleged that Kostas and his company had failed to pay for the materials and had therefore been unjustly enriched. Kostas was also accused of diverting or converting the trust funds for their own use.
On December 14, 2021, Kostas made an assignment into bankruptcy. He deposed that he chose to make an assignment into bankruptcy rather than bring a motion to set aside the judgment because he had no reason to believe the judgment would survive his bankruptcy.
Kostas submitted that he is only deemed to admit a breach of trust, and a breach of trust is insufficient to trigger the Section. Kostas argued that Convoy must additionally show that the debt arose from some element of “moral turpitude or dishonesty.” The deemed admission that the trust funds were appropriated or converted contrary to trust obligations does not necessarily imply “misappropriation and defalcation” under the Section. Kostas further argued that in the absence of moral turpitude or dishonesty, the Court cannot vary the judgment to include a declaration under the Section.
The Court ruled that Kostas was deemed to admit the Breach of Trust Facts, which included that he assented to and acquiesced in the diversion of trust funds established under the CA for purposes inconsistent with the trust. Similarly, directing trust funds for a purpose inconsistent with the trust is also sufficient to trigger the Section and such diversion is considered “dishonest”.
The Court found that Kostas was acting in a fiduciary capacity. As sole officer and director of Elite Construction, Kostas failed to adequately discharge his onus as a Trustee to account for the relevant trust funds pursuant to the CA. Goodman J. determined that Kostas’ deemed admissions establish the type of “wrongdoing, improper conduct or improper accounting” contemplated by the Section.
The Court granted the Plaintiff’s motion, stating that Kostas’s debt to Convoy still existed, and an order was made for Kostas to pay Convoy $92,412 for damages, $7,000 for punitive damages, and $4,790 for costs, and determined that prejudgment and post-judgement interest would survive the bankruptcy.
The Order also stated that the judgment debt would not be discharged in the event of Kostas’s bankruptcy and that Kostas was found to have used trust funds in an inconsistent way and failed to account for them as a Trustee.
For more information regarding Bankruptcy, Collections, Fraud, and/or Trusts related topics, please contact Kelli Preston at Devry Smith Frank LLP at (416) 446-3344 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“This article is intended to inform. Its content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon by readers as such. If you require legal assistance, please see a lawyer. Each case is unique, and a lawyer with good training and sound judgment can provide you with advice tailored to your specific situations and needs.”
This blog was co-authored by Owais Hashmi*
Convoy Supply Ltd. v. Elite Construction (Windsor) Corp.,  O.J. No. 4186, 2022 ONSC 5353