Director of Civil Forfeiture v. Murray & Pundick, 2013 BCSC

The Director of Civil Forfeiture applied for Interim Preservation Orders concerning a piece of real property in the Kootenays, along with $9,251 in cash which had been seized from the property by police.

The Director filed its action against the subject property in May 2012, but took no action concerning an Interim Preservation Order for the intervening period of thirteen months. Given the Director’s failure to act promptly, and the fact that the property was already subject to an order in a foreclosure proceeding (thus giving rise to the risk of inconsistent orders), Justice Dorgan of the BC Supreme Court found that the order requested by the Director was contrary to the interests of justice:

“To make the order the Director seeks today, in effect, allows the Director pre-judgment execution in respect of a property which is in foreclosure and is already the subject of an order of this court. To do so is contrary to the interests of justice.”

In response to the Director’s claims that the property was “wasting” or might be used for an “illegal purpose,” Justice Dorgan had no difficulty concluding that the evidence relied upon by the Director was “not persuasive,” and was indeed contradicted by the evidence of a local realtor who had been marketing the property in question for over a year:

In regard to the cash seized from Bill Pundick, a tenant at the subject property, Justice Dorgan concluded that the Director’s case was based on “suspicion only.” Mr. Pundick provided evidence that he was a currency collector, and that all of the circumstances supported Pundick’s version of events:

“What is found in the cabin he occupied at the Powell Road property? Wooden boxes with paper bills neatly filed in envelopes, in boxes beside what appear to be catalogues in respect of paper Canadian currency, all of which is consistent with Mr. Pundick’s evidence.”

On this basis, the both of the Director’s Interim Preservation Order applications were dismissed.

Eleven months later, the Globe and Mail reported that the Civil Forfeiture Office had abandoned its case against the Powell Road property.

Decided by the BC Supreme Court on June 21, 2013.
Click here for the full text of the decision.

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