A wedding photographer was forced to pay more than $ 22,000 after defaulting on his contract more than six years after a wedding.
Judging British Columbia Provincial Court in Surrey, Justice Valliammai Chettiar found that the photographer, Aman Bal, had broken his contract and offered disturbing, often confusing, testimony.
“In my opinion, none of Mr. Bal’s explanations are sustainable. They can only be called a lame excuse. He literally seemed to be making up those excuses on the spur of the moment at the helm,” Chettiar wrote in its reasons for judgment.
And she found out that her actions had a negative impact on the plaintiff’s marriage, which Chettiar says is a significant event in South Asian culture.
âTheir wedding was a once in a lifetime event,â she wrote.
“Disturbing” testimony of the photographer
Kaman and Ramandeep Rai hired Bal and his company, Elite Images, to provide photography and videography services for their wedding in June 2015 for $ 8,500.
Bal had been a professional photographer for 15 to 20 years, according to the documents. And he’s often worked for music videos, fashion shows, as well as weddings.
The photographer was hired to provide photo albums, thank you cards, digital guest books, metallic prints, Blu-ray discs and DVD of all the photos taken.
But more than six years after the wedding, the couple were still waiting.
In addition, he had irreplaceable childhood photos of the couple.
Throughout the process, the couple provided evidence that they had continually contacted Bal who was supposed to honor the contract a year after the wedding, at most.
The judge noted that the evidence showed Bal often did not respond to the couple and when he did, he said it was almost over.
âEssentially, he chained the Rais for over three years, leading them to believe they would get the products imminently,â Chettiar wrote.
Three years after the wedding, and in response to one of the many messages the couple sent to Bal, he wrote that he no longer worked for Elite Images and said that other employees at another company were working there. But he didn’t say which company it was, who the employees were or when the couple would receive their photos and videos.
Judge rejects defense arguments
In his defense, Bal claimed he did not deliver the final products because the couple still owed him $ 3,500 and refused to pay them despite repeated requests. But, the judge did not accept his reasoning.
“There is not the slightest evidence to support this claim,” she wrote.
And it was not an isolated incident. At least five other legal actions have been taken against Bal since 2011.
“All of the evidence in this case, including Mr. Bal’s slippery testimony, leads me to the inevitable inference that Mr. Bal’s behavior is almost a operating mode for Mr. Bal’s business – a pattern of deceptive behavior that frustrates the innocent to the point that they give up and walk away with whatever they can get from Mr. Bal, âChettiar wrote.
“Obviously that didn’t happen.”
Bal and his attorney also attempted to argue that Bal should not be held responsible because Le Rais contracted with his company, Elite Images Ltd, and not Bal personally.
This defense was also rejected because the contract stated Elite Images, or sometimes Elite Images Videography and Photography. However, he never declared Elite Images Ltd.
Overall, Chettiar found Bal unreliable as a witness.
“Needless to say, Mr. Bal’s testimony was disturbing in many ways,” she wrote.
“Most disturbing was his willingness to offer a story, without any foundation or documentary support.”
Breach of contract
Despite an offer on the first day of the trial to return the childhood photos and work with the couple to deliver the agreed-upon package, they declined.
Instead, the judge concluded that Bal had broken his contract.
Bal was ordered to pay $ 7,000 to replace items he did not deliver, $ 5,000 for punitive damages, $ 10,000 for mental distress and $ 236 for legal costs.