On April 20, 2021, the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) was granted intervenor status in an Ontario Court of Appeal hearing regarding civil forfeiture in the case of AG (Ontario) v 947014 Ontario and Norwood Estate. This case involves the scope of the Ontario Civil Remedies Act, which governs the seizure and forfeiture of assets suspected and determined to be proceeds of crime.
The assets in this case were seized as part of a drug trafficking prosecution where the accused passed away before his trial. The application for the forfeiture of the assets did not proceed, and a determination of whether the assets were the proceeds of crime was never concluded. Despite this, the court relied upon a provision of the Civil Remedies Act to approve a settlement between the deceased’s estate and his mother, who alleges to have a claim to a portion of the assets.
The Civil Remedies Act is designed to preserve assets until there is a determination as to whether they are proceeds of crime. In this case, the Norwood Estate assets were not yet determined to be the proceeds of a crime and cannot be awarded to a party until such determination is made. The CCF sought to intervene in this appeal to argue that this interpretation grants the Attorney General with power not permitted by the Civil Remedies Act, and which could result in significant consequences in future cases involving the Civil Remedies Act.
Cassels represented the CCF in the motion for leave to intervene, and will be is representing the CCF at the Ontario Court of Appeal hearing on May 12, 2021 on a pro bono basis.