Serena Oh. File photo

Despite court orders, Langley City candidate hasn’t paid costs of unsuccessful election challenge

Suing for the money would cost more than its worth, report states

Serena Oh hasn’t paid court costs ordered by the B.C. Supreme Court and the BC Court of Appeal over her failed attempts to overturn the 2016 Langley City municipal byelection.

That’s according to a previously closed report to council by Deputy Corporate Officer Paula Kusack that was posted to the City of Langley website in advance of Monday’s council meeting.

The report indicated Oh was supposed to pay $6,000 of the city legal expenses after she tried and failed to convince the two courts to declare the byelection invalid.

“ … these costs have not been paid and there is no real prospect for collection,” the report said.

Following the by-election, Oh filed a petition to challenge the election, claiming that 1,500 to 2,000 votes has been destroyed.

The case was heard by the BC Supreme Court in April 2016 and by the BC Court of Appeal in January 2017.

Both hearings ended with the judges saying there was insufficient evidence to establish Oh’s allegations and ordering that she should pay a portion of the city legal expenses.

In July, Oh sought leave to appeal the Supreme Court of Canada.

On November 30, her application was denied by all of the judges of the Supreme Court of Canada.

“This file is now concluded for good,” the report stated.

The City was again awarded costs, but determining the exact amount would require an application and more legal expenses.

Legal counsel have advised the City that it would likely cost more than the assessed amount to sue for it, the report said.

READ MORE: Failed challenge of Langley City byelection cost $27,000

The total legal costs for the case are estimated at $27,000, almost half the $55,000 annual City budget for legal matters.

Oh finished last of of nine candidates in the election that saw Nathan Pachal take his seat on City Council.

READ MORE: Second time the charm for Nathan Pachal

According to court records of the B.C. Supreme Court hearing to have the election declared invalid , Oh said she had carried out various “inspections” on March 24, March 29, March 31 and April 1, 2016 of ballots of people “that I randomly picked who voted for me.”

She claimed that their ballots had been destroyed or were not counted.

New Westminster B.C. Supreme Court Justice Brenda Brown ruled there was no adequate evidence to support Oh’s contention.

“She (Oh) seems to have concluded that people voted, but their votes were not counted or ballots were destroyed or some such, but there is simply no evidence to support that conclusion,” Justice Brown wrote.

When Oh went to the B.C. Court of Appeal, a three-judge panel upheld the Supreme Court decision.

“We have questioned Ms. Oh … as to how she can state categorically that the votes of particular people were not counted. What we gleaned from her was that since she had expected to receive 123 votes at least, some fraud must have occurred because she received only 57,” Justice Mary Newbury said.



dan.ferguson@langleytimes.com

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