A little gem from the BC Supreme Court: Wang v Wang, 2012 BCSC 1077. The Wangs wanted to set aside the transfer of a piece of real estate that their son Danny had made to his common-law spouse, Ellen Chiang, and to kick the couple out of the premises. The issue before Humphries J was whether default judgments against Danny and Ellen should be set aside because they were improperly served.

The evidence disclosed that a process server had approached Ellen’s car as she waited for the light to change, shoved the court document under one of the windshield wipers and walked away. Ellen testified that she had no recollection of the incident and did not find any papers on her windshield when she arrived home. Danny was served in a restaurant but claimed to have been served in other ways too – to the point where, he said, he was so drunk that he could not remember having been served with anything other than alcohol.  

The judge set aside default judgment against both parties. It was clear that Ellen had not been properly served, because delivery of the document had not been effected in such a way that she would have realised she was being presented with legal documents. No reasonable person would have thought that. As for Danny, the judge didn’t buy his story but, in the interests of not having potentially inconsistent results, she set aside the default judgment against him too.