Case Briefs

Grant v Willcock

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Willcock advertised a cottage for sale and seemed eager to sell to Mrs. Grant, a white woman. Upon discovering that her husband was black, Willcock said that he would probably be selling the cottage to his brother. The defendant later told Mrs. Grant's mother, who pretended to be a potential buyer, that he would not sell to a black person. Willcock did not explicitly tell the plaintiff that he would not enter into contract because of race, but made a public advertisement and then prevented Grant from making an offer. The cottage is subsequently sold to another couple. Grant brings a case of discrimination pursuant to s.3 of the Ontario Human Rights Code.


  1. Was the plaintiff's right to contract free of discrimination pursuant to s.3 of the Ontario Human Rights Code infringed?


Finding for the plaintiff, $3,000 damages assessed.


In this case the facts were not agreed upon; Willcock insisted he could never imagine himself saying he would not sell to a black person. Furthermore s.3 of the Ontario Human Rights Code states:

Every person having legal capacity has the right to contract on equal terms without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin . . .
and was there in fact a contract; an offer was never made. The tribunal held that the right not to be discriminated against applies at invitation to treat as well as at offer.


Freedom to contract free of discrimination applies at all stages of the contracting process; not simply at offer.

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