Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

Rachel Conduit, owner of the Handlebar, poses for a picture inside her bar in Kensington Market, in Toronto, Monday January 23, 2017. (Mark Blinch for the Globe and Mail)

Mark Blinch/Globe and Mail

A continuing legal action brought by Royal Bank of Canada against the owner of a popular downtown Toronto bar has come to an end.

The bank and Rachel Conduit have settled a dispute in which RBC obtained a court order that she repay over $70,000 that stemmed from the personal debts of her former business partner and not the bar they operated.

"I am thankful it is over," said Ms. Conduit about the agreement which was finalized late last week. While she cannot disclose the financial details of the settlement, she said "it is an amount that is manageable."

Story continues below advertisement

A tentative deal between the bank and the owner of Handlebar, which is located in the Kensington Market neighbourhood of Toronto, was reached after a story about the legal proceeding was published in The Globe and Mail earlier this month.

Ms. Conduit noted that soon after the article came out, the bank accepted an offer made by her lawyer and there was no further negotiation.

"It was agreed by both parties that continuing with court proceedings would be cumbersome and costly, so we were pleased to have reached a settlement agreement with Ms. Conduit and Handlebar," said RBC spokesman A.J. Goodman. "Throughout this process, we did not seek more money than we might be entitled to in accordance with the rules of the court," he added.

The legal case faced by Ms. Conduit was a popular topic for social media users who frequent Kensington Market bars and shops. It also highlighted the fact that in Ontario, owners of small businesses that are not incorporated may be liable for the personal debts of their partners, even if they are not related to the finances of their establishment.

It was almost exactly a year ago when Ms. Conduit discovered tax debts owed by Handlebar, a bar she ran with business partner Bruce Dawson. A lawyer for Ms. Conduit drafted a letter that was sent to Mr. Dawson, stating he had been ousted from the partnership. Ms. Conduit then incorporated the business along with her husband. (Her legal last name is Reynolds, but she is widely known by her middle name, Conduit).

What she did not know at this time was that RBC had obtained a notice of garnishment against the business partnership as part of its efforts to recoup personal debt incurred by Mr. Dawson. Ms. Conduit was unaware of this notice, and when the bank did not receive a response, it went to Ontario Superior Court, taking legal action against Handlebar.

Superior Court Justice Robert Reid issued an order last March for Handlebar to pay $71,000 to the bank. Ms. Conduit was not made aware of the court proceeding.

Story continues below advertisement

The bar owner retained lawyer Gosia Bawolska, who was successful in reopening the matter before Justice Robert Nightingale. If the bank collected the full amount set out in his colleague's order then "it would recover far more than what it was entitled to on the merits," noted the judge in his ruling issued on Jan. 23.

He set aside the earlier order and required Ms. Conduit to comply with certain conditions, such as paying $10,000 into the court to cover any money that RBC may be owed from funds withdrawn by Mr. Dawson after there was a notice of garnishment.

Small businesses may be hesitant to incur legal fees as they start up operations, noted Ms. Bawolska. "While it is not always necessary, speaking with a lawyer at the outset of a new business adventure can go a long way to protect against other people's financial shenanigans," she stated.

Mr. Dawson told The Globe last month he is trying to repay his debts to RBC and believes he was unfairly removed from the operations of Handlebar.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies