You will want to know about the recent Ontario Court of Appeal
decision in Pankerichan v Djokic, if you are part of a
religious community which is considering or is in the midst of the
A division and you are uncertain who is to have ownership,
possession or control over the religious property after the
A union with another religious community and you are uncertain
whether the union is permitted;
A dissolution of a religious community and you are uncertain
where the property of the religious community should go; or
A dismissal or discipline of one or more members of the
community and you are uncertain whether dismissal or discipline is
The advancement of religion is one of the four categories of
charitable purposes in Canadian law. Many religious
institutions have registered charity status under the Income
Tax Act (Canada). Such status exempts an institution from
federal income tax and provides it with the ability to issue
charitable donation tax receipts to donors. Within these religious
institutions, religious disputes can and do arise, and,
understandably, Canadian courts have been very reluctant to
exercise jurisdiction in such disputes. However,
Pankerichan v Djokic demonstrates that Canadian courts
will get involved in religious disputes that involve the
determination of civil rights.
Pankerichan v Djokic involved a dispute over church
property between members of the congregation of the Serbian
Orthodox Church, and the Bishop and Diocean Council members. The
case dealt with whether the court can interpret religious documents
in determining rights to church property.
In Pankerichan v Djokic, church property was held in
trust under the provisions of the Religious Organizations'
Lands Act ("ROLA"). Subsection 3(2) of ROLA
specifically provides that documents of a religious institution can
supersede ROLA. The case involved a number of church documents that
substantiated the position of the Bishop and Diocean Council
members. Members of the congregation argued that in accordance with
the Neutral Principles of Law (the "NPL") doctrine, a
concept used in American law, the court must analyze deeds and
other documents with respect to church property in a secular
manner, meaning that the courts must rely on "well-established
concepts of trust and property law". This approach would leave
no room for the court to interpret most of internal church
documents presented by the Bishop and Diocean Council members.
The court stated that the NPL doctrine does not represent a
binding approach in Canadian law. In support of this, the court
stated that Canadian courts have not adopted the NPL doctrine in
the past. The court also noted that the NPL doctrine was rooted in
the anti-establishment principle of the American Constitution, an
equivalent of which does not exist in Canadian law. As a result,
the court held that it would not be inappropriate for a judge to
consider internal church documents to reach a decision.
In light of the Pankerichan v Djokic decision, Ontario
courts are more likely to turn to religious documents in
determining civil rights in religious disputes. The determination
of whether a division, union or dissolution of a religious
community is permitted, or whether a certain disciplinary measure
is allowed, could be based on the analysis of religious
organization's constitution or another foundational
Under the Income Tax Act, the Employment Insurance Act, and the Excise Tax Act, a director of a corporation is jointly and severally liable for a corporation's failure to deduct and remit source deductions or GST.
Under the Income Tax Act, the Employment Insurance Act, the Canada Pension Plan Act and the Excise Tax Act, a director of a corporation is jointly and severally liable for a corporation's failure to deduct and remit source deductions.
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