Two Calgary-based energy companies recently duked it out for $12 million in the Alberta Court of Appeal, after being handed a decision by the Alberta Energy Utilities Board.
Atco Electric Ltd. had been delivering electricity to Suncor Energy Inc.’s oilsands production facilities as part of a 1989 agreement. Suncor notified Atco that by March 2000, the company would reduce the amount of electricity to the minimum volume specified in the deal.
According to court documents, Suncor changed its mind, and later asked Atco to continue providing electricity at the normal volumes until December 2000. Atco agreed, but neither party specified whether the 10 months of electricity would be billed on a “gross” or a more costly “net” basis, the difference being about $12 million.
But Atco learned that Suncor was selling electricity for higher prices than it was paying Atco, so Atco applied to the EUB to have Suncor billed on a net basis. That application was denied, and Atco appealed the ruling in the Alberta courts.
The appeal, heard this month, determined that had Atco and Suncor struck a new agreement, Atco would have cause to charge on a net basis. However, because the electricity supplied from March to December 2000 was really on an extension of an existing agreement, the gross basis would continue, the ruling said. The appeal was dismissed.
NO ESCORT NEEDED
A property developer and owner of a condo unit in Calgary brought the building’s owners to court, claiming that even though they own a unit, they and their guests are not being given fair and reasonable access to the building.
687866 Alberta Ltd., a subsidiary of Pointe of View Marketing & Management Inc., owns a second-floor commercial condominium unit in West Pointe Plaza.
Pointe of View is leasing the unit from 687866, and operated out of the unit until May 2000. Since then, the unit has been vacant and Pointe of View is negotiating to sell it.
Under new building security rules, owners of residential units in the building have keys allowing them and their visitors to access their particular floor. Pointe of View, as a business owner, is required to escort its visitors to and from the main doors.
Pointe of View filed to the Court of Queen’s Bench in Calgary, claiming that in creating two sets of rules, the board of the Condominium Corporation “has conducted itself in a manner that is oppressive or unfairly prejudicial.”
This month, the court agreed, finding that the same rules that apply to residential owners should also apply to commercial owners. The requirement for Pointe of View (or the condo’s future buyer) to escort its visitors has been lifted.
COURT WINS $148,000
A Calgary woman has won judgments in her fight against a gravel pit near her residence, and has applied to the courts for reimbursement of costs she incurred in the battle.
Linda Court appealed an environmental approval issued for a LaFarge Canada Inc. gravel pit to operate near her residence. She won her challenge of two decisions of the Alberta Environmental Appeal Board, and filed to the Court of Queen’s Bench in Calgary for a reimbursement of about $148,000 in costs.
The board, the Alberta Environment director, and LaFarge, for various reasons, all argued that no costs should be awarded against them.
This month, the court agreed that Court was entitled to her costs, and it was left to determine which of the three should pay. Citing precedents, the court declared “costs are generally not awarded to or against an administrative decision-maker,” and since there were no “unusual or exceptional circumstances” for this case, the court did not see justification for costs against the board or the director.
The entire sum claimed, plus reasonable disbursements, was awarded to Court against LaFarge alone.
TOO MUCH PRESSURE
Alan and Barb Michalsky run a farming operation north of Lundbreck. In 1989, the pair began signing yearly contracts with Farm Business Consultants Inc. The company would, among other things, collect financial data and prepare for filing the income tax returns of the couple.
About 1992, the couple was audited and told to pay an additional sum under $6,000 to Revenue Canada. Farm Business took responsibility for the error. The returns for 1999 and 2000 also needed correction, and the couple voiced their concerns to Farm Business, but signed a renewal contract.
The parties gathered in the spring of 2003 to discuss the preparation of the 2001 return. The couple signed another contract, but filed to the Provincial Court of Alberta in Lethbridge/Macleod requesting a refund of their money, claiming they were pressured into signing the contract.
The court agreed that the Michalskys felt forced to sign, fearing if they did not, their current tax return would not be promptly dealt with. Farm Business has been ordered to refund the couple about $1,700.
(Cases taken from recent Alberta court judgment records.)