The Ontario Superior Court of Justice recognizes the tort of family violence




The Ontario Superior Court recognizes the tort of family violence - Ahluwalia v. Ahluwalia, 2022 ONSC 1303 Elements of the Tort of Family Violence Mandhane J. held that to establish liability on a civil standard, the plaintiff must establish conduct by a family member towards the plaintiff, within the context of a family relationship, that:is violent or threatening, orconstitutes a pattern of coercive and controlling behavior, orcauses the plaintiff to fear for their own safety or that of another person (para 52).To establish “family violence,” the plaintiff will have to plead and prove on a balance of probabilities that a family member engaged in a pattern of conduct that included more than one incident of physical abuse, forcible confinement, sexual abuse, threats, harassment, stalking, failure to provide the necessaries of life, psychological abuse, financial abuse, or killing or harming an animal or property. It will be insufficient to point to an unhappy or dysfunctional relationship as a basis for liability in tort (para 55). Once liability, is proven, the nature of the family violence—circumstances, extent, duration, and specific harm—will all be factors relevant to assessing damages. Aggravated damages may be awarded for the betrayal of trust, breach of fiduciary duty, and relevant post-incident conduct. Punitive damage awards will generally be appropriate given the social harm associated with family violence (para 57). Application to the Facts Mandhane J. found that the father had committed the tort of family violence by engaging in three serious physical assaults against the mother (paras 96-100).Mandhane J. also found that the father engaged in a pattern of behavior that was calculated to be coercive and controlling. The father was psychologically abusive from the beginning of the marriage, and he also was financially controlling (paras 101-111).Mandhane J. concluded that the mother was entitled to damages of $150,000 in relation to the family violence she experienced during the marriage (para 112).

April 14, 2022
— Ahluwalia v. Ahluwalia, 2022 ONSC 1303