BENCHPRESS | Rock-Paper-Scissors Debts, Napkin Wills & Injured Skiers.

AuthorSteingard, Jessica

Rock-Paper-Scissors Debt Cancelled

Primeau c. Hooper, 2020 QCCA 576

Mr. Hooper lost a set of three games of rock-paper-scissors to Mr. Primeau in January 2011. The wager? $517,000 - $258,500 carried over from a previous debt on a quits or doubles bet.

Mr. Hooper signed a mortgage from Mr. Primeau to represent the debt. The mortgage was registered as a second mortgage on Mr. Hooper's home. Mr. Hooper paid Mr. Primeau ten monthly payments of $1,000 but then stopped. The mortgage was amended to acknowledge the default and the amount owing increased to $553,249.

On February 10, 2015, Mr. Hooper filed a court application asking the court to cancel the mortgage and amending agreement. The trial judge had to decide whether the debt was valid at law, according to Article 2629 of the Civil Code of Quebec. Only two types of gaming and betting contracts are valid:

  1. Contracts expressly authorized by law.

  2. Contracts which relate to lawful exercises and games related solely to the skill of the parties or to the exercise of their bodies AND where the sum involved is not excessive.

The trial judge found paragraph 2 applied to the contract but that both conditions had not been met. The game was one of chance and the amount was excessive - in part because it was the highest ever bet between the parties. The judge decided the contract between the parties was not valid. Mr. Primeau appealed to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal also sided with Mr. Hooper.

McDonald's Napkin Will is Valid

Gust v Langan, 2020 SKQB 42

After Philip Langan passed away on December 30, 2015, his daughter produced a McDonald's napkin with his writing on it. She claimed this was his will. The napkin listed seven of Mr. Langan's children and then said "Split my property evenly". It was signed by Mr. Langan.

Mr. Langan had eight children - one son died in 2006 and another died in 2015. His surviving children believe Mr. Langan wrote the will sometime between the deaths of his two sons. One daughter challenged the napkin, saying it wasn't a valid will. The Wills Act of Saskatchewan states that holograph (handwritten) wills are valid wills. However, the Court noted that "holograph wills are [often] drawn so informally that the court is uncertain whether the author of the document intended to create a will."

The Court based its decision on affidavit evidence given by four of Mr. Langan's children. The daughter who had the napkin will said her father gave it to her one day and said...

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