Young people rioting in Vancouver. Graffiti in Kelowna.
Maybe you are thinking "where are the parents?" Why
aren't they supervising their kids? If parents knew they might
be financially responsible then they might keep a closer eye on
their children. That's the theory.
Parental Responsibility legislation was proposed in BC about 10
years ago. Many opponents charged that it would be unfair to low
income parents, who have fewer resources with which to supervise
their children, to expect them to pay for property damage caused by
their children. For high income parents it would not be a hardship
at all to bail out their children and would set a poor example.
However, the Act came into force on August 21, 2001. It seems to be
seldom used as I could only find two cases in 10 years.
The Act does not create an offence of failing to supervise
children so don't expect the police to arrest anyone or the
Crown to lay charges against parents. The Act gives you the ability
to sue parents for damage to your personal property caused by their
children. It's not a fine; it's compensation for property
Section 2 of the Act says that parents are liable for loss or
damage if their child intentionally takes, damages or destroys the
property of another person. The maximum award is $10,000 so your
action must be brought in Small Claims Court. Section 9 sets out
the defences of the parents being sued – that they were
exercising reasonable supervision over the child at the time and
that they made reasonable efforts to prevent or discourage the
activities that caused property loss. Section 10 sets out the
factors that the court may consider such as the age of the child,
prior conduct and the likelihood that the activity would cause
Why only two cases in 10 years? Probably because the work of
pursuing the claim falls on the people whose property has been
damaged. However, many of you may not have been aware that this
legislation even exists in BC.
You can find the Parental Responsibility Act (and all BC
legislation) at www.bclaws.ca . Just click on View Statutes
and Regulations and the acts are listed alphabetically.
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A discussion on a recent decision by the Ontario Court which demonstrates how, in interpreting an unclear will, a court may consider evidence about the character and experience of the deceased and the circumstances in which the will was prepared.