JFK Court Report: Recent Cases from British Columbia

Chief Joe Hall v. Canada Lands Company, 2014 BCSC 2361

This is a case to watch for determination of the issue of Crown successorship for liability for wrongdoing of the Colony of British Columbia (prior to Confederation).

Tzeachten First Nation commenced a claim against Canada in relation to two parcels of land, over which they assert aboriginal title. They also allege Tzeachten was wrongfully deprived of their reserve interest in the lands by the Colony of British Columbia. Tzeachen seeks damages for trespass, wrongful sale, unjust enrichment, the value of the lands and damages for loss of the lands. Canada applied to add British Columbia as a third party on the basis that British Columbia should be responsible for any damages resulting from wrongdoing prior to Confederation by the Colony of British Columbia. Canada proposed the severing of the issue of pre-Confederation liability to a separate trial. British Columbia opposed being added on the basis that it was not necessary to the adjudication of the claim, and Tzeachen opposed severance of the issue. The Court decided to permit the addition of British Columbia as a third party, given that the declaratory relief sought by Canada about British Columbia’s responsibility for pre-Confederation liability is related to the subject matter of the action. If the court found wrongful acts by the Colony of British Columbia, the Court would have to decide the issue of Crown successorship for this liability, so the addition of British Columbia is necessary and the court ordered that Canada could file the third party notice. However, the court did not agree that the matter should be severed, and ordered that all of the issues in the proceedings will be tried together in the allotted time for trial.