Costs

The Nova Scotia justice system is to some degree slanted in favour of crooked contractors. The burden of legal bills will mostly fall on the homeowner because he has to pay a lawyer on an ongoing basis to keep the court case going to get rid of the bogus lien. The contractor - who is frequently broke or close to it - doesn't really need a lawyer once the case has been started in  Supreme court. He just has to show up once in a while or participate in an occasional conference call, and provide copies of his relevant paperwork. When the dust has settled, it's rather unlikely that the homeowner is going to come out ahead financially, even when he wins the case. This  perversion of justice is not at all unusual.

Once the final hearing takes place and the judge has kicked the fraudulent lien and dismissed any additional claims the contractor may have, he will usually award costs against the contractor to offset the homeowner's legal bills. But it will be only a fraction of what the actual legal costs have become - maybe 20%, or less. The rationale behind this is that the loser - usually already saddled with substantial legal bills of his own - should not have to absorb all of the winner's costs as well. In cases involving crooked contractors who do most of their own work and incur relatively little legal cost, this theory doesn't really work, but we're generally stuck with it. If the homeowner wants to recover all of his legal costs as well as the damages caused by the contractor, he's going to have to set up another trial date and spend another few thousand dollars. If the contractor is broke, there's really little point in doing that. When a contractor combines incompetence, dishonesty and greed and splashes it on the homeowner for a couple of years, the outcome truly demands a settling of accounts.  The homeowner can resort to extrajudicial measures which may produce little financial benefit but can produce enormous emotional satisfaction. We discuss this opportunity below. See After the Ordeal by Trial is over.
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