I am actually surprised that lawyers have not yet started to automatically include in their lawsuits against home inspectors - also the organizations and/or associations who have** “certified” **the competence of their fellow members in the first place.

**RUDOLF REUSSE **- Home Inspector since 1976 - TORONTO

Please erase your post before they get any ideas! :wink:


The associations would be liable if it could be proven that the association was somehow contributable to the loss of the claimant.

Most likely lawyers are only likely to sue inspectors who have E&O insurance. Associations likely are only covered for Directors and Officers liability and have limited assets.

With that theory they should also be able to sue any HI school or Community College the inspector graduated from as the school stated they were competent enough when they completed and passed the program. Why can’t they sue the Medical school a doctor graduated from in a malpractice suit?


A training institution WAS sued about three four years ago for the negligence and lack of knowledge of a Home Inspector in Ottawa. The plaintiff claimed the institution failed in its duty to adequately train the person. I can’t name names here but for a cold beer in Toronto I could be bribed to tell the whole story.

Bill Mullen

Wery, wery interesting!! The precedent has been set!

Schools can most certainly be sued, or rather the liability of the student be transfered to the school in part, IF the school committed consumer fraud (a student is a consumer) such as claiming a curriculum is approved when it really wasn’t. One of the reasons we gather so many government approvals for our courses: www.nachi.org/education.htm

A cold beer Bill!, you are a cheap date sir! I will be happy to provide some refreshments.

Bill Mullen posted:

But did the action succeed or fail? One thing to be sued another if the suit has no merit or claimant fails convince through evidence his/her case.

The training institution was exonerated eventually, but as you know, court cases can go either way depending on many factors including the mood of the judge.

There are laws but there is no justice.

Bill Mullen

The judge ruled a while back that the franchise was responsibility for half the settlement cost and the inspector for the other half. Why? Because the inspector was following the franchise procedures.
The reference was posted here about 8 to 10 months ago.
It was on CLL case in Calgary AB.

…and I guess in most cases the Franchisor does the training of the Franchisees, so that case is very similar to what we are discussing.

Bill Mullen

So true!! The last small claims court case I was a witness against an HI in was a classic proof of your statement.

It involved a rotten sill/mud plate and rim joists on a small house…but the cost to repair and rebuild to prevent same in the future was $18,000. In this area, a small group of 25 or so homes had originally been built with the sill plate very close to grade. It was known that 5-7 homes had already had rotting lower framing replaced. The flower gardens built up by this vendor were 4-6 inches up the siding behind which were the ratting sill plate and rim joists. This condition is regulated against in codes and warned against in better gov info and is just plain known to be a stupid move!! The HI missed this pertinent item and that there just may be some rot going on behind sidng with untreated wood behind it. He barely inspected the the crawl space and did not go to the side of the home with the high soil levels and remove some fiberglass rim joist cavity insulation to check if there was any rot in the visible sill framing here!!

I was called in by a contractor on a sunny, summer Saturday afternoon (when I should have been having another cold one) and wrote a report on the rot. The young lady that bought the house eventually went into small claims court about 2 years later without a lawyer but to our surprise the HI and home owner each had lawyers…so began a 4.5 hour after supper evening of to and fro between sides as how to proceed (FRUSTRATION is what it is called!!) So much for the concept that small claims court is for the small guy to have smaller claims tried without incurring the huge expense of liars…er…er lawyers! I told the young lady that I would charge for my time only if we fully won the case.

For the next court appearance her lawyer made a couple of mistakes:
(1) he did not take my advice about how and what to question the HI about
(2) he convinced my client and the court (against my recommendation to my client) to have me be the first witness so that my time costs would be much less than if I had to sit outside the courtroom and didn’t get to testify for 2-3 nights. So as not to cause her more stress and upset, I respected her request from the advice of her lawyer.

In the end, the HI got off with no costs while on my evidence the homeowner was dinged wih $9,000 damages. I was not in court for the third night (took a total of 17 hours in “small claims” court) when the HI testified. His ploy/claim that was bought by the Adjudicator (judge) and not questioned by the lawyer (dumb ***!!) was that he did not want to break or go outside the SOP- he was not required to lift or remove insulation. SO…even when there is very good reason to suspect a condition such as sill rot caused by high soil grades, you can ignore it and claim the SOP told you not to check it or possibly refer it to a carpenter or PE!!!

The foolish point in the end was that her legal fees/court costs were just about the $9,000 that she received from the vendor…so she is still out $18,000+. SAD!! SAD!! SAD!!

There are laws but there is no justice. Well, maybe a bit- a few months later the HI sold his company. At least the public do not have to fear him now!! But my client does not feel very good about “the justice system”.

Once again the lawyers receive their payout and the clients walk away in the same position as before the court case. Civil cases are a sad situation.


Why would someone go to small claims court with that amount of damage?

How much does a small claims court award in your necks of the wood?

The limit at the time was $15,000 but now it’s $25,000. An amount large enough to draw the vultures in to pick the bones of the participants!! Little court for the big boys!

Can Professional Associations Be Held Liable in Negligence?

Professions, such as law, accounting and engineering, are self-regulated to some extent by professional associations, which govern and discipline their members and protect the public. In consideration of these responsibilities, it is interesting to ask if a professional association could be held liable for failing to discipline one of its members or for failing to warn the public about the conduct of one of its members.

Few legal authorities in Canada have considered the liability of a professional association to individuals who suffer a loss, economic or otherwise, from a member’s negligence. This seems to suggest that, under existing law, individuals would have a difficult time establishing liability against a professional association for failing to discipline or warn about a member. However, the Supreme Court of Canada has endorsed the position that “the categories of negligence are never closed.” They have broadened the categories and, with them, broadened when a duty of care may be owed and to whom.

The rationale underlying the establishment of self-governing professions is the protection of the public. It is this rationale, coupled with a professional association’s enabling statute, that could engender a private law duty of care being owed by an association.

Most professional associations, under their enabling statute, have the power to license and discipline their members. This power, often joined with an ethical code of conduct, defines a “self-governing” profession.

The public is protected by ensuring that only qualified, competent individuals are permitted to practise and that those individuals conform to standards of professional conduct established by rules and bylaws.

Any claim against a professional association for failing to discipline a member or failing to warn about the negligence of a member would be framed in negligence. If the enabling statute imposes a positive duty on the association to investigate or discipline its members, then arguably that association could owe a private law duty of care to a person in the public who has used the member’s services. As for any claim in negligence, the person making the claim would have to establish a sufficiently close relationship between the association and himself or herself, such that it was reasonably foreseeable that a careless act or omission by the association could result in damages being suffered by that person. Further, one must weigh any policy reasons or considerations that would limit the scope of the duty and the class of persons to whom it is owed or the damages to which a breach of it may give rise.

It is arguable, in certain circumstances, that an association is akin to a public authority. As such, there are public policy reasons to negate or limit its duty of care because of the potentially indeterminate number of

As well, the association’s disciplinary powers may well be deemed quasi-judicial and therefore exempt from any liability. The enabling statute may include clauses protecting the association from actions brought against it as long as it acts in good faith. The wording of the enabling statute is of critical importance.

It is likely that an association, like any individual or public body, is also subject to a standard of reasonableness. Failing to act at all may be unreasonable. Failing to initiate a review or to discipline a member when the association knows, or ought to know, of his or her negligence or misconduct may also be unreasonable. The facts of each case will obviously affect the reasonableness of the alleged act or omission of the professional association.
Notwithstanding policy defenses, the potential for liability exists in the current negligence climate.

Accordingly, it is in an association’s best interests to ensure that its statutory obligations are clearly identified and adhered to in carrying out its role as a self-governing body.

For more information on this topic, please consult Bob Hodgins. (Frida Tromans assisted in writing this article.)


Brian MacNeish stated:


*[25] Foreseeability, as expressed by Flinn, J.A. of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal in Roose v. Hollett et al. (1996), 154 N.S.R. (2d) 161 at p. 192, adopted the application of this concept as expressed by Dickson, J. of the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Cote (1974), 51 D.L.R. (3d) 244 at p. 252:

It is not necessary that one foresee the “precise concatenation of events”; it is enough to fix liability if one can foresee in a general way the class or character of injury which occurred.

This application of the doctrine of foreseeability binds this court and must be employed in this case. If the class or character of the injury which occurred is too remote to be foreseen in a general way, then liability will not attach to the Defendant.*

I think this is the case Vern was referring to:

Fraser v. Knox
[1998] O.J. No. 4379
Court File No. 97-CV-2047

Ontario Court of Justice (General Division)
Aitken J.

Heard: June 15, 1998.
Judgment: October 26, 1998.
(21 pp.)

Another interesting read with regard to civil liability of self regulating bodies.