Van Camp v Laurentian Bank of Canada: Discharging Contracts and Unjust Enrichment

Van Camp v Laurentian Bank of Canada, 2015 ABCA 83 [Van Camp], is predicated on a dispute between the Laurentian Bank (“Bank”) and the Van Camps. The Bank sought recovery from the Van Camps for debts relating to conditional sales contracts. The Van Camps sought, against the Bank, money that had been withdrawn from their account. The Court of Appeal found that the Bank was not entitled to withdraw funds from the Van Camps’ account once the claimants had terminated the conditional sales contracts.

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[filed: Contracts Restitution and Unjust Enrichment]

In Juries We Trust: R v Magno

The Ontario Court of Appeal (“Court of Appeal”) decision in R v Magno, 2015 ONCA 111 [Magno], affirmed the law surrounding judges’ Vetrovec warnings in cases where co-conspirators serve as both witnesses against an accused and as independent corroboration for one another’s testimony.  The appellant (“Magno”) appealed from trial convictions on charges of conspiracy, arson and manslaughter, as well as the length of his sentence. Finding that the trial judge gave an appropriate Vetrovec warning and that it was open for the jury to rely on hearsay testimony from Magno’s co-conspirators, the Court of Appeal dismissed each of these grounds of the appeal. By placing great trust in the jury’s assessment of witness credibility, this decision signals Canadian courts’ continued shift away from the “juror control” model of trial jurisprudence.

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[filed: Criminal Law Criminal Procedure Evidence Law]

Supreme Court Denies Leave to Appeal in McAteer v Canada (AG): Oath to the Queen Continues

The Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) recently denied leave to appeal from the Ontario Court of Appeal (“ONCA”) decision in McAteer v Canada (Attorney General), 2014 ONCA 578. The case was a challenge to the requirement under the Citizenship Act, RSC 1985, c C-29, to swear an oath to the Queen during the Canadian citizenship ceremony. The three people who brought this challenge had different reasons for doing so, yet were united in their opposition to the oath on the basis that it violates their rights to freedom of religion and conscience, freedom of expression, and equality rights guaranteed by the Charter.

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[filed: Charter Citizenship and Immigration Constitutional Law]

Veils, Oaths, and Canadian Citizenship: Ishaq v Canada

On February 6, 2015, in the well-publicized decision of Ishaq v Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), 2015 FC 156 [Ishaq], the Federal Court ruled that it was unlawful for the Canadian Government to ban new citizens from reciting the citizenship oath with a face-covering veil. Since the decision was released, the Harper Government has announced emphatically that it will appeal the judgment.

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[filed: Charter Constitutional Law Federal Court Human Rights Religion]

R v Goleski: Who Has the Burden of Proof for “Reasonable Excuses”?

On February 11, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) dismissed the appeal of R v Goleski, 2014 BCCA 80 [Goleski], from the British Columbia Court of Appeal (“BCCA”). The SCC found that the BCCA had correctly interpreted s. 794(2) of the Criminal Code, RSC 1985, c C-46, as having imposed a persuasive burden on the accused to prove an exception, exemption, proviso, excuse, or qualification prescribed by law. In dismissing the appeal, the analysis that is now binding to all court levels in Canada is the one provided by Frankel J.A. of the BCCA.

This decision from the BCCA is of particular interest since it: (1) clarifies that the accused, rather than the Crown, bears the burden of proving on a balance of probabilities the factual foundation of a “reasonable excuse” for refusing to comply with a breathalyzer demand; and (2) distinguishes a “reasonable excuse” from other defences known to law.

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[filed: Criminal Law]

The YMCA, Taxation, and Statutory Interpretation: YMCA of Greater Toronto v Municipal Property Assessment Corporation

A recent ruling at the Court of Appeal for Ontario (“ONCA”), Young Men’s Christian Association of Greater Toronto v Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, 2015 ONCA 130 [YMCA, ONCA], held that the Toronto YMCA was not exempt from municipal property taxes on four properties to which it holds leases. The ONCA’s pithy decision rests on principles of statutory interpretation and an avoidance of the lower court’s lengthy discussion of the word “of.”

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[filed: Property Law]

Minority Language Schools Don’t Have to Be Perfect: NWT v Association des parents ayants droit de Yellowknife

Minority language rights were at the centre of a recent case heard by the Northwest Territories Court of Appeal (“NWTCA”), with the court ruling that equality does not mean perfect schooling conditions. The court, in Northwest Territories (Attorney General) v Association des parents ayants droit de Yellowknife, 2015 NWTCA 2, set aside a lower court ruling and affirmed that minority language education rights set out in s. 23 of the Charter are not automatically granted.

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[filed: Charter Constitutional Law]

Constitutionalizing Pursuit of the Client’s Cause: Canada (AG) v Federation of Law Societies

In a decision being lauded by the bar, the Supreme Court of Canada held that provisions of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, SC 2000, c 17 [PCTFA] violate sections 7 and 8 of the Charter in Canada (Attorney General) v Federation of Law Societies of Canada, 2015 SCC 7 [FLSC].

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[filed: Charter Criminal Law]

Naming Names in the FRO: Ontario (MCSS) v John Doe

The Family Responsibility Office (“FRO”) is a division of the Ministry of Community and Social Services that is responsible for collecting, distributing, and enforcing child and spousal support payments. It has broad enforcement powers for those who fall behind on their support. These include garnishing bank accounts, suspending driver’s licences and passports, and issuing writs of seizure and sale on property.

Use of these powers has made the FRO staff and individual employees the target of threats by delinquent support payors. These threats were the subject of the Ontario Court of Appeal’s (“ONCA”) recent decision in Ontario (Minister of Community and Social Services) v John Doe, 2015 ONCA 107, released on February 17.

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[filed: Access to Information]

Scott and Associates Engineering Ltd v Finavera Renewables Inc: An Illustration of Constructive Trusts and Unjust Enrichment

In Scott & Associates Engineering Ltd v Finavera Renewables Inc, 2015 ABCA 51, the Alberta Court of Appeal (“ABCA”) applied the doctrine of constructive trusts to an unjust enrichment that arose through a commercial dispute. The decision upheld the determination that the Appellant, Scott & Associates Engineering Ltd., could not receive such a remedy. In doing so, the ABCA refused to accept a liberal interpretation of the doctrine of constructive trusts.

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[filed: Restitution and Unjust Enrichment Trusts]