Saskatchewan’s Director under the Seizure of Criminal Property Act applied for an indefinite preservation order of $45,360.00 in seized money that was suspected to be the proceeds of crime. The Director claimed a right to apply for indefinite ongoing seizure, pursuant to Queen’s Bench Rule 390, pending the resolution of the civil action for forfeiture of the seized cash.
The court expressed concern that the Seizure of Criminal Property Act itself only allows for interim preservation orders to be granted “for a period not exceeding 30 days,” and extended “for a further period not exceeding 30 days from the date the extension is granted.” Invoking Rule 390 would seem to run contrary to the spirit of the Director’s own Act, which provides for judicial review of seizure orders at 30-day intervals.
After receiving a Brief of Law from the Director, Zarzeczny J. of the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench ruled that the Director must follow his own Act in seeking ongoing preservation of seized property. The requirement for repeated review of interim preservation orders was obviously crafted to ensure that the Director acts quickly and diligently in bringing matters to trial. Zarzeczny’s reasons for judgement strongly suggest that this had not occurred in the Peters case, where the Director was seeking and indefinite preservation order but had taken no action to bring the forfeiture action to trial for some 15 months after the seizure of the money.
Zarzeczny J. concluded his reasons for judgement as follows:
“In the whole of the circumstances and the history of proceedings upon the current application before the court, I have determined that the provisions of s. 6 of the Act relating to Interim Preservation Orders should be applied and not the provisions of Rules 390 and 391 … These 30 day orders, and any extensions of them, should provide sufficient time and opportunity for the Director to make and proceed with the final application for forfeiture before the courts in a timely, expedient and cost-effective manner … In the result, I decline to make a long-term Preservation Order as applied for pursuant to Rules 390 and 391. The Director has the right to make further and other Interim Preservation Order applications as and if considered necessary.”
Decided by the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench on August 29, 2012.
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