British Columbia (Director of Civil Forfeiture) v. Crowley, 2014 BCSC 1481 – Director Fails to Show that Full Forfeiture in Interest of Justice

The Crowley case was sent back to the BC Supreme Court for consideration of the interests of justice. The BC Court of Appeal determined that Supreme Court judge in a previous hearing had erred in failing to consider the interests of justice before granting default judgement to the Director of Civil Forfeiture.

In considering the case in light of the interests of justice, the Court determined that it would be contrary to the interests of justice to order full forfeiture of the Defendant’s property. Although it was clear that the property had been an instrument of unlawful activity (i.e. trafficking in a controlled substance), the Defendant was 77 years old and had owned the property for 26 years. There was no evidence of unlawful activity prior to 2006.

The Court ordered that 50% of the value of Mr. Crowley’s property be forfeit to the Director. Justice Weatherill specifically noted that he was “not satisfied that complete forfeiture of the Property would clearly be in the interests of justice.” This suggests that although it is the Defendant’s responsibility to elicit evidence regarding the interest of justice, the Director also bears a certain onus in demonstrating the Province’s equitable entitlement to the property in question.

Decided by the BC Supreme Court on August 7, 2014.
Click here for the full text of the decision.

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