May 17 , 2021

Serving Uncooperative People

April 15 , 2021

Death and After-Life of Contingency Agreements

February 22 , 2021

Legal Analysis

February 2 , 2021

Costs Clarified at Last

January 4 , 2021


December 10, 2020

Traps and Confusion in Service Times

November 24, 2020

Don't Cut Corners

October 2 , 2020

Consent Orders

August 4 , 2020

Electronic Hearings

July 21, 2020

Ceasing to Act

June 29, 2020

Writing Skills

June 29, 2020

Keeping Up With the Law

June 22, 2020

Assets as a Test for Security for Costs

June 19, 2020

What is This Case About?

June 11, 2020

Cross-Examining Child Witnesses

May 20 , 2020

Formal Offers

May 13 , 2020

Vexatious or Self-Represented Litigants

January 7, 2020

G.S.T. and Costs

December 20 , 2019

Electronically Navigating the

October 7 , 2019

Questioning is a Bad Word

July 29 , 2019

Dismissal for Delay

May 7 , 2019

Rule 4.31 Fallacies

March 18 , 2019

More Dangers in Oral Fee Agreements

February 11 , 2019

Weir-Jones Decisions

January 9 , 2019

Discouraging Settlements

November 30, 2018

European Court Helps You Twice?

November 23 , 2018

Courts Overruling Tribunals

November 16 , 2018

New Evidence on Appeal

October 30 , 2018

Schedule C's Role

July 17 , 2018

Loopholes in Enforcing Settlements

May 7 , 2018

Enforcement of Procedure Rules

April 16, 2018

Limping Lawsuits are Often

April 3 , 2018

Court of Appeal Tips for
Summary Decisions

March 19, 2018

Serious Dangers in Chambers

February 13 , 2018

Court Backlog

December 18 , 2017

Lowering the Status of Courts

September 15 , 2017

Access to Court Decisions

July 4 , 2017

Strictissimi Juris

June 14 , 2017

Why Don't Your Clients Settle?

June 5 , 2017

Gap in Rules About Parties

June 5, 2017

Personal Costs Against

April 26, 2017

Clogged Courts

April 11, 2017

Dismissal for Want of

January 6, 2017

Incomplete Disclosure

December 15, 2016


November 23, 2016

Is Contract Interpretation Law?



Côté’s Commentaries

© J.E. Côté 2016-2021


There are more difficult, disorganized, excitable, very hostile, tricky, or dishonest litigants than there used to be. For some reason (maybe irrational), many of them especially resist service, or giving an address for service. Some deliberately ignore all mail or messages. They are difficult and expensive to serve, and proving service or notice is even more difficult.

Where an opposing party is not officially represented by a solicitor of record, take extra care with service. Do not build your castles upon foundations of sand. Especially when you contemplate or get an order for, substitutional service.

A recent case shows how extra thought and care saved one lawyer from potential grief. Other lawyers would benefit from similar steps.

Substitutional service had been ordered, apparently by taping documents to the two (locked) gates of the opposing party’s property. The person serving put two copies of the documents to be served into two separate manila envelopes, each envelope stating on the outside what it contained. One envelope was taped to the gatepost of each gate, at different locations. Each envelope taped in place was then photographed (as is easy with cellphones).

Then proper service was denied. An affidavit of service was prepared and sworn. This affidavit did more than describe the date and mode of service used. It also exhibited the photographs of the two envelopes (with outside descriptions) on the gateposts of the two gates.

Better still, cross examination of the opposing party showed that the two gates were the only way to get into the property; it was impossible to get in to the building inside, without going through one of those two gates and seeing the envelope and the message written on it. (Putting that fact into the affidavit of service would have helped too.)

The court held that the service was proper, and that it must have come to the opposing party’s notice: Breitkreuz v. Breitkreuz 2021 ABQB 339, JCE 4803 130530 (Apr 28) (¶’s 24-26).

– Hon. J.E. Côté


The Commentaries are intended to call the attention of lawyers to promising or threatening developments in the law, in civil procedure, in developing their skills, or simply to describe something curious, funny or intriguing.

Justice Côté recently retired from the Court of Appeal of Alberta and currently acts as an arbitrator, mediator, or referee under Rules 6.44 and 6.45 of the Alberta Rules of Court.

He may be contacted through Juriliber at email: or phone 780-424-5345.