Lawyers slammed for wast­ing time

The Expositor (Brantford) - - NEWS - MICHELE MAN­DEL

TORONTO — Bil­lion­aire Six Na­tions busi­ness­man Ken­neth Hill may have cash to burn, but an out­spo­ken judge has slammed his team of ex­pen­sive lawyers for clog­ging up an al­ready back­logged fam­ily court as part of their “hid­den agenda” to win the case.

“Our over­bur­dened court sys­tem can’t – and shouldn’t – waste scarce re­sources on a need­less mo­tion, to the detri­ment of other fam­i­lies who des­per­ately need court time to de­cide real is­sues,” wrote On­tario Su­pe­rior Court Jus­tice Alex Pazaratz in a scathing rul­ing last week.

Hill, 59, has been in a years­long bat­tle with Brit­tany Beaver, the mother of his nine-year-old son, and is chal­leng­ing the court or­der to pay her $33,183 a month in in­terim child sup­port based on his 2015 in­come of $2,108,500 – non-tax­able due to his In­dian sta­tus and his com­pany’s lo­ca­tion on Six Na­tions.

Hill is co-founder and part­ner at Grand River En­ter­prises, a to­bacco man­u­fac­turer with an­nual sales of more than $300 mil­lion and re­put­edly the largest pri­vate Indige­nous-owned busi­ness in the world.

The cig­a­rette mag­nate met Beaver, then 22, in Septem­ber 2008 while she was work­ing with cor­po­rate pro­mo­tions at GRE. She claims they lived to­gether for about a year and had a baby on Aug. 24, 2009.

They con­tin­ued their ro­man­tic sex­ual re­la­tion­ship — while liv­ing apart — with ex­pen­sive trips to Las Ve­gas and Costa Rica and ex­trav­a­gant shop­ping sprees in New York and Toronto.

It all ended in Novem­ber 2013 dur­ing a tu­mul­tuous va­ca­tion in the Ba­hamas. They’ve been fight­ing over money ever since.

In ad­di­tion to child sup­port, Beaver wants $85,701 a month in spousal sup­port. Hill claims their re­la­tion­ship was purely sex­ual and she was never his spouse in any way.

Their on­go­ing bat­tle has been in the head­lines as Hill con­tends his abo­rig­i­nal sta­tus should ex­empt him from On­tario’s Fam­ily Law Act and the mat­ter should be de­cided ac­cord­ing to Hau­denosaunee law.

While a lower court shut him down, the ap­peal court has given him an­other chance to pur­sue his ar­gu­ment.

In the mean­time, his le­gal team was back in court ask­ing Pazaratz to make a rul­ing bar­ring Jus­tice James Sloan from pre­sid­ing on any fu­ture hear­ings – even though the Kitch­ener judge who had made some past tem­po­rary or­ders isn’t ex­pected to have fur­ther deal­ings with the dis­pute now that Pazaratz is case man­ag­ing the com­plex file.

The judge sug­gested they ad­journ their mo­tion and bring it back if and when Sloan is as­signed to their case.

“A mo­tion seek­ing his re­cusal is not only pre­ma­ture – it’s point­less and purely hy­po­thet­i­cal,” he said.

Hill’s lawyers in­sisted on a de­ci­sion now, just in case.

Pazaratz’s im­pa­tience was pal­pa­ble.

“When you give a team of very tal­ented and ex­pen­sive lawyers a blank cheque to dredge up ev­ery con­ceiv­able ar­gu­ment and mo­tion you can think of, this is what hap­pens,” wrote the ex­as­per­ated judge.

“It’s not just fi­nan­cially waste­ful; it’s games­man­ship which pre­cludes hon­est set­tle­ment dis­cus­sion.

“Whether you call it op­pres­sion or a war of at­tri­tion – it’s ba­si­cally one side try­ing to avoid the real is­sues, by creat­ing as many le­gal hur­dles as pos­si­ble.”

The witty, no-non­sense judge has fre­quently is­sued rul­ings from the fam­ily court bench lam­bast­ing those who waste valu­able ju­di­cial re­sources: he’s crit­i­cized Le­gal Aid for the “ob­scene ex­pen­di­ture of tax money” on a straight-for­ward di­vorce case and blasted a war­ring cou­ple for squan­der­ing $500,000 in their bit­ter child cus­tody dis­pute.

In this lat­est case, Pazaratz con­cluded the rea­son Hill’s le­gal team is push­ing for a re­cusal rul­ing is tac­ti­cal: by get­ting Sloan to step aside from any fu­ture de­ci­sions, they could then chal­lenge all his past ones – es­pe­cially those that went against their client.

“If it sounds like there’s some sort of hid­den agenda here, it’s be­cause there is a hid­den agenda,” the judge said. He dis­missed their mo­tion. “The bot­tom line,” Pazaratz said, “is that this court has an obli­ga­tion to be sen­si­ble, even if the par­ties and lawyers aren’t.”

When you give a team of very tal­ented and ex­pen­sive lawyers a blank cheque to dredge up ev­ery con­ceiv­able ar­gu­ment and mo­tion you can think of, this is what hap­pens.” Su­pe­rior Court Jus­tice Alex Pazaratz

DAVE ABEL/POST­MEDIA FILE PHOTO

Six Na­tions busi­ness­man Ken Hill (left) is ac­com­pa­nied by sup­port­ers for a court hear­ing in Toronto last Septem­ber.

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