Court orders Scotiabank to pay CSL resident late property tax penalty

Small Claims Court Judge Stéphane Davignon ordered Scotiabank to pay a Côte St. Luc resident $725, the amount of penalties for late payment of property taxes in 2016 and 2017.

The plaintiff had sought $1,475.26 from Scotiabank, including $703.68 for “penalties and interest for late payment of property taxes” for 2016, $21.38 for 2017 and $750 in moral damages. The bank countered that it “acted in accordance with his obligations to him.”

The plaintiff, a Scotiabank customer in relation to mortgage loans, was obligated by the bank to “ensure that the sums required for the payment of property taxes [were] still in his account to enable Scotiabank to make payment directly to the City of Côte St. Luc.” The court found this was the case.

The court document adds that between 2011 and 2014, the plaintiff did not have to provide any City of CSL documentation to Scotiabank. However, in 2015, “[the plaintiff]received a letter informing him that he must send [the bank] a copy of his tax bill to ensure the payment of property taxes.”

The plaintiff did so, and heard nothing until two years later when he received a notice from CSL informing him he was late in paying his 2016 and 2017 property tax bills, and had to pay the penalties.

The plaintiff asked what happened, and was told that the position of the Scotiabank employee handling his tax bill payments was abolished as part of a bank restructuring, of which the plaintiff was not aware. He demanded that the bank pay the bills, and refused to pay the interest charges from CSL.

The bank, at a later meeting, showed the plaintiff that it sent two letters to him in 2016 asking him to again send a copy of his CSL tax bill, as was requested in 2015.

“Both [the plaintiff] and his mother, who live at the same address, testified they never received either of these two letters,” the court document says. “[The plaintiff] explained that in June 2016, he renewed his mortgage with Scotiabank and on that occasion specifically asked the Scotiabank representative if there was any other information that was necessary for his file and in particular, he said he specifically inquired about the issue of tax accounts on this occasion since he had received in February 2015 a letter stating the need to transmit to the bank a copy of his tax bills, a situation that had never occurred in the past.”

The court found that the plaintiff “was in no way in default with Scotiabank,” and that the bank “failed to fulfill its contractual obligation to pay directly and in good time the amount of property taxes payable by [the plaintiff].”

For that reason, the court awarded the plaintiff his penalty charges over two years of $726, plus $100 in court costs, but determined he could not prove moral damages.

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