Serena Oh’s failed attempt to challenge a Langley City byelection has cost the municipality approximately $27,000.
The Supreme Court of Canada recently declined to hear Oh’s appeal. The City had argued that that Oh’s complaint had no validity.
Oh was one of the defeated candidates in the February, 2016 byelection for a City council seat. Oh had the lowest number of votes out of all nine candidates, with 57 votes. Nathan Pachal, who won the council seat, received 740 of the 2,074 votes cast.
Nevertheless, Oh insisted that she should have won, claiming that she believed at least 1,500 people were planning to vote for her.
Oh represented herself, pushing her challenge through the B.C. Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal before attempting to take it to the top court in the country.
“Most judges, they don’t actually know the law, I find,” Oh told the Langley Advance in 2016 as she began her legal challenge.
Oh missed the deadline for a judicial recount of the vote.
She claimed that she had support from numerous locals, and said last year that she was gathering signatures from people who claimed to have voted for her.
However, her attempts to overturn the vote were repeatedly rebuffed by judges, who ruled that there was a lack of any evidence of wrongdoing during the election.
“It is difficult to understand where the information is coming from, how Ms. Oh is reaching the conclusions which it appears she has reached by looking at some sort of documentation,” wrote Justice Brenda Brown in her B.C. Supreme Court ruling dismissing the claim. “It is just not possible to determine what the basis of the evidence is.”
Despite the lack of evidence, the case has cost Langley City financially.
At the B.C. Supreme Court, lawyers for the City submitted a draft bill of costs totalling $2,904.40. Brown ordered Oh to pay a lump sum of $2,000.
City administrator Francis Cheung said the City looked into recovering their court costs from Oh. Unfortunately, their lawyers advised that going through that process could actually cost as much – or more – than the money the City could recover. The City council has decided not to seek cost recovery.
Oh managed to pursue her claim despite having been declared a vexatious litigant. In 2012, a judge issued an order that Oh would not be allowed to launch legal actions without the permission of the court. Another, similar order was issued later regarding a lawyer Oh had sued.
A vexatious litigant is someone who habitually or persistently launches flimsy legal actions. They often represent themselves and tend to repeatedly appeal any rulings.
According to the provincial Ministry of the Attorney General, there is no registry of vexatious litigants.