When is a By-Law Effective?

Section 56.(10) of the Condominium Act, 1998 states as follows:

A by-law is not effective until,

(a) The owners of a majority of the units of the corporation vote in favour of confirming it, with or without amendment; and

(b) A copy of it is registered in accordance with subsection (9).

Despite the word “until” in Section 56.(10), I believe that there is a good argument that the effective date of a by-law may be the date of the meeting at which the by-law was confirmed, provided of course the by-law is in fact subsequently registered.

Here’s my reasoning:

Once a by-law has been confirmed in accordance with Subsection 56.(10)(a), the condominium corporation has a fiduciary duty to register the by-law. The registration of the by-law is essentially a “housekeeping” step, to ensure that all persons acquiring an interest in the property have notice of the by-law. But this step may take some time. What does this mean for the period between the meeting and the registration of the by-law? In my view, everyone who knows that the by-law has been passed also knows that the corporation must register the by-law. So, I believe that the doctrine of “feeding the estoppel” operates to treat the effective date of the by-law as the date of the confirming meeting, provided the corporation proceeds with reasonable haste to arrange for registration of the by-law.

Applications of this principle could include the following:

(a) Elections held at a meeting of owners in accordance with a by-law passed at the same meeting.

(b) Insurance claims processed in accordance with a standard unit by-law and/or insurance deductibles by-law passed by the owners, but not yet registered, before the insured event.

I should be careful to add that this principle likely won’t apply to anyone who does not have knowledge of the by-law. The by-law won’t be effective, vis-à-vis those persons, until the actual date of registration of the by-law. Therefore, the corporation could consider:

  • immediately sending a copy of the confirmed by-law to all owners (following the meeting); and
  • attaching a copy of the by-law (along with a statement that the by-law has been confirmed at a meeting of owners) to all status certificates issued following the meeting.
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