British Columbia (Civil Forfeiture) v. Hells Angels Motorcycle Corporation, 2013 BCSC 1003 – Court Strikes Speculative Statements from Director’s Claim

The Director of Civil Forfeiture’s ongoing action against the Angel Acres Recreation and Festival Property Ltd. which has been the subject of litigation since 2007, was subject to an application that the Director be required to particularize all of the unlawful acts in which the Angel Acres property had been involved.

Mr. Justice Davies of the BC Supreme Court agreed with the Defendants that several paragraphs of the Director’s Notice of Civil Claim were inadequate, and found that the Director had an obligation to specify each of the alleged unlawful acts which would ultimately be used to support an order for forfeiture:

“[72]        Without such particularization, the issues to be met at trial will not be sufficiently known to the defendants. It would also not be possible to assess the relevance of the evidence sought to be adduced at trial. In those circumstances, a trial which is now scheduled to last at least 16 weeks could become an even longer and unrestrained inquiry into the defendants’ alleged unlawful activity generally with no connection to the NHAMC Clubhouse or its Contents of which forfeiture is sought.

[73]        If there are specific unlawful activities which the Director now seeks to rely upon in alleging that the property of which forfeiture is sought was used to engage in unlawful activity or is likely to be so used, which have not yet been identified, those should now either be pleaded in paragraph 17 or elsewhere in the Amended Notice of Civil Claim or, alternatively, after consideration of this ruling, provided by way of further and better particulars.”

Justice Davies stopped short of requiring the Director to specify how the Angel Acres property was used in each of the unlawful activities in question, finding that such a requirement would effectively require the Director to plead evidence, essentially going beyond the normal purpose of pleadings:

“[106]     In making the pleadings decisions I have made, I have specifically not required the Director to plead how the NHAMC Clubhouse or its Contents were used, or likely to be used, in respect of any specific unlawful activity.

[107]     I did not require that to be pleaded because I have agreed with the Director’s submission that what the defendants are seeking to know by that demand for particularity is the evidence upon which the Director intends to rely in proving his claims.

[108]     That is not the purpose of either pleadings or particulars as a sub-set of pleadings. How the NHAMC Clubhouse and its Contents were allegedly used in respect of any alleged specific unlawful activity is not a material fact that must be pleaded or particularized to define the issues to be decided.

[109]     The defendants’ demands for particulars with respect to how the property of which forfeiture is sought was used in the commission of any specific unlawful act need not be further answered.”

Decided by the BC Supreme Court on June 6, 2013.
Click here for the full text of the decision.

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