Civil Forfeiture Act ("CFA") came into force on April
26, 2006. It was based on similar and earlier legislation in
Ontario. To date, in excess of $43 million has been
"recovered," going from $600,000 in 2006 to $9.5 million
in 2013. The number of forfeiture claims has also expanded from 69
in 2008 to more than 460 in 2013. As of January 2014, there were
550 ongoing cases. An overwhelming number of forfeiture cases (99%)
are "settled," most involving significant
"recovery." A government news release tells us that the
"civil forfeiture program is helping to make BC an even safer
place to live." From the provincial government's
perspective, it is a wildly successful program.
The CFA is not without its critics. About all that can be said
presently is that it is here to stay so we better get used to it.
In that spirit, what follows is a bullet point review of useful
information and what the courts have said so far about the CFA:
The CFA establishes the Civil Forfeiture Office
("CFO") and creates the position of Director, currently
A forfeiture claim is an in rem claim against the subject
asset, as opposed to an in personam claim against persons with an
interest in the asset. The Director must give notice of a
forfeiture claim to anyone believed to have an ownership interest
in the asset (s. 4).
The Director has no independent powers of investigation. Files
are referred "voluntarily" to the CFO by police agencies
and other public bodies such as I.C.B.C.
The Director may obtain interim and permanent preservation
orders (s.8) where it establishes a "serious question to be
tried" over whether the subject asset is proceeds or an
instrument of unlawful activity. This is often done to create
practical and economic pressure to "settle."
An asset must be forfeited (s. 5) if the court is satisfied, on
a balance of probabilities (s.16), that it is either the proceeds
or an instrument of unlawful activity (s. 3).
Proof of a criminal conviction is proof under the CFA that a
person engaged in unlawful activity (s. 17), however an acquittal
or the absence of criminal charges does not preclude a finding of
unlawful activity (s.18).
A party may seek relief from forfeiture on various grounds,
including the interests of justice (s.6). The factors established
to date include proportionality, fairness, the degree of
culpability, complicity or knowledge, the nature of the unlawful
activity, the need to remove profit as a motive for crime, the
disgorgement of wrongfully obtained profits, the need for
compensation and prevention of future harm: British Columbia (Director of Civil Forfeiture) v.
Rai,2011 BCSC 186.
The limitation period for a forfeiture claim is 10 years (s.
In 2011, the CFA was amended to add Part 3.1 –
Administrative Forfeiture of Subject Property. This Part creates an
administrative process to deal with the forfeiture of property
"the director has reason to believe" has a market value
of less than $75,000. Such a claim must be commenced within two
Forfeited assets are converted to cash and paid to a special
account (s. 26). The Director then makes payments for its own
costs, victim compensation and crime prevention and remediation
It's not often that our little blog intersects with such titanic struggles as the U.S. presidential race – and by using the term "titanic" I certainly don't mean to suggest that anything disastrous is in the future.
J.J. v. C.C., is an interesting case in which the court held that an automotive garage owes a duty to minor children to secure the vehicles on the premises by locking the cars and safely storing the car keys...
In Irwin v. Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, 2015 ABCA 396, the Alberta Court of Appeal found that the "ABVMA" failed to afford procedural fairness to a veterinarian undergoing an incapacity assessment.
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