A legal fight between a mother and her son over the mortgage debt on a Coquitlam property was essentially sent back to the drawing board following a recent B.C. Supreme Court judgment.
Jeong Sook Han asked the court for a judgment in her favour concerning $3.5 million in mortgage debt in a foreclosure proceeding. Her son, Jae Kyu Han, argued he didn’t receive and doesn’t owe that money.
Given some contradictions and omissions in the evidence, Justice Trevor C. Armstrong explained he couldn’t award a judgment to Jeong Sook.
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“The evidence provided by both parties is sparse and the lack of detail and assertions of important facts is concerning,” Armstrong wrote.
Jae Kyu became the registered owner of the $1.2-million Adiron Avenue property in February, 2018, according to court documents.
On April 1, 2019, Jae Kyu granted the mortgage to Jeong Sook in the principal amount of $3.5 million, according to affidavits submitted in court. However, those affidavits lacked detail, Armstrong noted.
“Nothing in the affidavits explains why the mortgage was granted” to Jeong Sook more than one year after Jae Kyu became the owner of the property, Armstrong wrote.
Jae Kyu had returned to Canada from Korea in April 2019, according to evidence submitted by Jeong Sook’s counsel. It was at that time that Jeong Sook had her son sign a mortgage and grant her enduring power of attorney.
The mortgage principal also included money Jeong Sook had advanced to her son over the previous five to 10 years, according to submissions from Jeong Sook’s counsel.
Jae Kyu, who represented himself, “said that the property had been given to him by his mother as a gift.”
In April 2019, his mother asked him to sign two documents at a lawyer’s office. Jae Kyu. He said he didn’t know he’d granted his mother enduring power of attorney until 2022.
Armstrong also noted the mortgage granted by Jae Kyu was witnessed by Jeong Sook’s lawyer.
There is also “no indication” Jae Kyu had any independent legal advice, Armstrong wrote.
Jeong Sook “relies only on the registered mortgage as proof of the debt,” Armstrong wrote. Jeong Sook did not put any evidence before the court that established money was advanced to Jae Kyu or that the debt remains outstanding, Armstrong wrote.
Armstrong also raised the issue of mortgage interest.
Jeong Sook suggested the mortgage was intended to secure $3.5 million with interest.
“That assertion is not accurate; there is no interest component set out in the mortgage,” Armstrong wrote.
The judge’s task
Ultimately, Armstrong could only award judgment if Jeong Sook had established there was: “no bona fide triable issue,” the judge wrote.
Jeong Sook “failed to establish that no triable issue exists,” the judge concluded, noting there was a: “serious question about the existence and size of the debt.”
It would in the interests of justice for both parties to “file proper pleadings,” Armstrong concluded, adding: “there will likely be examinations for discovery required.”
The property has a current market value of $1.4 million.