BenchPress--Vol 42-2.

Author:Peerani, Aaida
 
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  1. 'Til Law Do You Part

    In a recent case, the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench had to determine if a marriage was legally valid. In 1997, the couple in question travelled from Canada to Vietnam (where both were born) to get married in a traditional Vietnamese ceremony. However, no paperwork was filed and the Record of Marriage document was unsigned. Upon return to Canada, the couple threw another traditional engagement and wedding ceremony, again without any formal paperwork.

    Years later, the wife filed for divorce and requested division of the matrimonial property. The husband argued that the couple was never actually married: the wedding(s) were only for show for the family after they had discovered that the wife was pregnant. He pointed to the fact that they filed their tax returns as a common law couple.

    Generally, a marriage in a foreign country is considered legally valid in Alberta if it is a legally valid marriage in the foreign country. The Court admitted it did not know what the law of marriages was in Vietnam in 1997 to determine on its own if the marriage was valid. However, the evidence demonstrated that many people in Vietnam, including local officials, considered the parties married under Vietnamese law. Moreover, the couple had children, lived together for over a decade and held themselves out to be married. Therefore, the Court found that the marriage was legally valid.

    Vo v. Vo, 2017 ABQB 628

  2. Hit and Run No More

    The British Columbia Supreme Court handed down a record-setting punitive damages award to a driver in a hit and run case. In 2014, Veronica Howell was a 22 year old who was pursing a degree in English literature and was hoping to become a librarian. She was hit by a pick-up truck while crossing the street. The driver did not stop after striking her, leaving her unconscious and bleeding. He even accelerated onto oncoming traffic to get away. Due to the accident, Howell now has chronic pain, hearing problems, brain injury which impairs her cognition, and aggravated pre-existing conditions.

    The owner of the car, Leon Machi, claimed that he was not driving at the time. The Court did not believe him based on his testimony and video evidence. The Court also added that even if he wasn't the driver, he lent his vehicle to many unnamed drivers, which would make him vicariously or indirectly liable.

    Notably, the Court found that Howell was 25% liable because she was jaywalking at the time of the incident. Therefore, the Court...

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