TORONTO: The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) is appearing today, May 12, at the Ontario Court of Appeal as an intervenor in a novel civil forfeiture case.
The case, AG (Ontario) v 947014 Ontario and Norwood Estate (Norwood Estate) involves the scope of the Ontario Civil Remedies Act. This is legislation that governs the seizure and forfeiture of assets suspected and determined to be proceeds of crime.
Norwood Estate involves assets, including a family home, that were seized as part of a drug trafficking prosecution where the accused later died before his trial. The Application for the forfeiture of the family home did not proceed, and a determination of whether the home was the proceeds of crime was never concluded. Despite this, court relied upon a provision of the Civil Remedies Act to approve a forced settlement between the deceased’s estate and his mother, who alleges to have a claim to a portion of the home.
“Civil forfeiture is an extremely powerful tool in the government’s toolbox, and because of the power of that tool, there need to be limits in how it is exercised. Civil forfeiture does not just apply to criminals, it can also be used to take the assets of individuals who have never been charged or even suspected of a crime” said CCF Litigation Director, Christine Van Geyn.
“We decided to get involved as intervenors in this case to ensure that the natural and statutory limits of this act are respected. The government in this case has put the cart before the horse, and dispensed with assets by entering a settlement with a third party without ever showing that those assets were tainted by crime,” continued Van Geyn. “This cannot be how the law was intended to operate. The government cannot side step the law whenever it’s convenient for them.”
The CCF will be represented at the appeal by Jessica L. Kuredjian and Robert Sniderman of Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP. Media who are interested in observing the public can contact Christine Van Geyn to obtain a link to the virtual hearing.
The original version of this release can be found here.