The Ewachniuk Trilogy

The Ewachniuk trilogy is an example of a complex dispute involving a variety of claims and legal issues that has spanned over 6 years. Mr. Sourisseau represented two sisters whose brother, a former lawyer, drafted a will for their elderly mother; the will sought to compel them to give up their shares in the family company to their brother or lose their inheritance. The sisters’ claim for undue influence was successful in Supreme Court1 and upheld by the Court of Appeal2; the will was set aside and the sisters were awarded their equal share of their mother’s estate.

The sisters also held shares in the family business, but were in a minority position and had never realized any benefit from those shares. Their brother controlled the company. Their petition for oppression was successful and the Supreme Court ordered their shares to be purchased at fair market value including an amount to compensate for money improperly taken from the company by their brother, the majority shareholder, over the years.3,4

Finally, the brother had obtained the shares, which gave him control of the company, from his parents in 1980. Pursuant to the contract for the sale of the shares, he agreed to pay $750,000.00 for the shares and secured that promise by a promissory note payable one year after demand. The administrator of the estate made demand, but payment was refused; the brother alleged both forgiveness of the note and that the limitation period had expired. The administrator of the estate retained Mr. Sourisseau to attempt to enforce the promissory note. The Supreme Court5 granted judgment upholding the promissory note and the obligation to pay the $750,000.00 to the estate. The brother appealed and the Court of Appeal6 upheld the judgment.

This was an example of a case where the parties were entrenched and litigation was the only viable option.