When Brent Hambrook stood before B.C. Court of Appeal judges, it was a dream come true for the South Surrey lawyer.
Win or lose, nothing could dampen the opportunity to argue a case before the province’s highest court.
“You spend hundreds of hours and dream about this your whole life,” the Semiahmoo Secondary alumnus said.
“In order to win there, the odds are against you.”
Fortunately for Hambrook’s client – a White Rock senior who was appealing a decision that blamed her for money lost on the sale of her home after a purchase contract was breached – he beat those odds.
For the senior, the win was worth more than $200,000.
For Hambrook, it earned him more than the thrill of victory. The appeal – which was heard and decided last October – is now cited in the latest version of the Commercial Clearing Housing B.C. Real Estate Law Guide, a publication Hambrook described as reserved for “very significant” cases. As well, it is part of the curriculum being taught to University of Victoria law students.
Hambrook is confident it will go further.
“Other law schools, as well, will likely teach the case,” he said.
“There will probably be many cases that interpret it in the future. It’s a really important decision for real estate contracts.”
The notch is a proud first for the 29-year-old, who began practising alongside his father, Alan, after graduating from University of B.C. law school in 2008 – the same school his father graduated from 44 years earlier.
And while it has become his passion, law was not the junior Hambrook’s first career choice. One might say he’d initially set his sights higher – thousands of feet higher, to be precise.
Hambrook spent about seven years as a pilot – including nearly a year as a flight instructor at the Arizona campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – before deciding to pursue law.
The training at Embry-Riddle, which included investigating aviation accidents to determine if error played a role, has served him well in the legal realm, he said.
“In law, we’re trying to determine negligence,” Hambrook explained.
He made the switch to law simply to “try a new challenge.” The call home to share the news “flabbergasted” his dad.
But, as evidenced most recently by the appeal court win, it has been a good fit.
“I think we get along fairly well,” Hambrook said.
He is interested to see how other courts will interpret the appeal court decision, and expects it is a case that “will likely have all kinds of judicial treatment… throughout Canada.”
At the least, there are lessons others faced with a similar situation can learn from, he said.
Those include: once a real estate deal has been breached, the quicker the home in question is put back on the market, the better. It’s also important to relist at a reasonable price and adjust the price to suit the market, he said.
Demonstrating an effort to mitigate any damages caused by a contract breach is key, Hambrook said.
“You can’t just sit back and let your damages accumulate,” he said.
Hambrook is confident his client’s effort to mitigate her damages played a key role in the court victory. Now, as the process of actually collecting on the judgment progresses, he feels similarly confident it, too, will end well.
“It looks really good that we’ll be able to get everything back,” he said.