Brun v. Deep Cove Yacht & Sport Club

In Docks Wharves and Marinas on (Updated )

Précis: The plaintiff’s membership at the defendant yacht club was reinstated despite being in arrears on moorage payment.

Facts By letter dated 13 December 2017, the plaintiff was informed he was “no longer a member” at the defendant yacht club because of “non-full payment of accounts owing”, a decision made by the yacht club’s executive committee. The yacht club, a non-profit recreational association incorporated under the Societies Act, S.B.C. 2015, c. 18, is governed by a Code of Conduct, Bylaws and Regulations. The Bylaws included, among other things, that every member must promptly pay dues and moorage (2.3), and that failing to do so means the member would not be in good standing (2.3.1). The Bylaws also specified that a person may appeal expulsion from the yacht club at the next meeting of the Executive Committee (2.9.1), that consideration by the Executive Committee to expel or reinstate a member shall be conducted in camera (2.9.2), and must be approved by 75% of those present (2.9.3). Importantly, the Bylaws provisioned that an individual ceases to be a member upon resolution of the Executive Committee for cause, provided that the member had been given fourteen days’ notice that a meeting is to be held to consider their expulsion and inviting the member to attend (2.9(b)). The plaintiff brought this action to quash the executive committee’s decision and restore his membership pursuant to s 105 of the Societies Act, which provides the court with jurisdiction to address errors and irregularities in the conduct of the society’s affairs.

Decision: Plaintiff’s relief sought is granted.

Held: The Court found that the correct interpretation of the Bylaws was that non-payment of dues as an expulsion for cause was governed by s. 2.9. In doing so, the Court held that by writing to the plaintiff on 13 December 2017 that the Executive Committee considered the expulsion to be governed by s. 2.9 of the Bylaws. By expelling the plaintiff as a non-member before the procedure in s. 2.9.3, the yacht club failed to comply with its own Bylaws and thus denied the plaintiff procedural fairness.