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B.C. lawyer ordered to pay $29K to neighbour for failed 'vexatious' lawsuit

The Law Society of BC has also placed a custodian on Naomi Arbabi's legal practice.
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B.C. lawyer Naomi Arbabi has been ordered to pay her neighbour nearly $30,000 for starting a frivolous claim against them.

A court registrar has ordered Vancouver real estate and corporate lawyer Naomi Arbabi to pay her neighbour Colleen McLelland nearly $30,000 after a failed lawsuit over a condo patio partition.

B.C. Supreme Court registrar Meg Gaily ruled May 27 Arbabi pay McLelland after Arbabi launched what was later deemed by a judge to be a vexatious and frivolous lawsuit against McLelland.

According to the registrar’s ruling, the two sides could have settled for $14,214.67; however, Arbabi offered only $5,000 up front and promised to pay the rest by 2064.

McLelland declined the offer, which set in motion more costly legal work on the part of McLelland’s pro-bono lawyer Greg Palm, who helped McLelland after she initially (and successfully) represented herself in the case.

Palm has since registered a certificate of judgment against Arbabi’s condo.

Last year, Arbabi claimed McLelland committed trespassing resulting in loss of enjoyment and loss of value of her property after McLelland put up a replacement partition on her patio, thus blocking what Arbabi described as her “breathtaking views of the ocean, the mountains, the bridges, Stanley Park and more,” at her home just south of downtown Vancouver.

McLelland noted in her defence that the strata re-installed the patio divider after a previous one had been removed.

And so, Arbabi sued McLelland for $30,000 plus $1,000 for each day thereafter the divider remained standing.

But it was Arbabi’s claim, based on the “law of the land,” that resulted in scrutiny from Associate Judge Susanna Hughes as well as the Law Society of BC.

For instance, referring to herself as “i: a woman; naomi arbabi” Arbabi stated “I, require the man who at times acts as judge or magistrate to give oath to the following at the naomi arbabi court.”

McLelland had called for the court to dismiss Arbabi’s claim, which McLelland said “is in the nature of an organized pseudo-legal commercial argument (“OPCA”), which claims have been found to be frivolous and vexatious by a number of courts.”

Arbabi’s claim also dismissed strata property laws.

The judge agreed with McLelland’s self-administered defence and dismissed Arbabi’s claim and awarded special costs to McLelland.

Hughes wrapped up her judgment by noting as a member of the Law Society of BC, Arbabi “has an enhanced obligation to uphold the rule of law” and “the oath taken by all lawyers called to the bar in B.C. includes a term that the lawyer ‘will not promote suits upon frivolous pretences.’”

The Law Society of BC indefinitely suspended Arbabi, according to a March 11 ruling. The society shows online that Arbabi’s legal practice is under a custodial order.

According to the registrar’s ruling, “Arbabi submitted that as a result of these proceedings, she has lost her livelihood.”

gwood@glaciermedia.ca