Police seized $2,700 in cash, along with a quantity of cocaine, from an individual who was later convicted of drug trafficking. The Court had no difficulty in concluding that the $2,700 was proceeds of unlawful activity.
The Defendant failed to defend against the Director’s claim, but a law firm with a writ of execution against the Defendant appeared to assert a “prior registered interest in the property.” The Court noted that it was dealing with a case of first instance:
“Despite an extensive search, neither counsel on this application nor I could find any authority directly on point dealing with whether an interest under a writ of execution constitutes an interest in property under the Act. There is the equivalent of civil forfeiture legislation in a number of jurisdictions across Canada but it does not appear that this issue has previously arisen. That may be because those involved in unlawful activity are not generally ones incurring debts which are ultimately reduced to judgment and enforced by way of writ of execution.”
The Court ultimately concluded that the law firm was entitled to a “protection order” to safeguard its interest in the money:
“In the circumstances, it is my view that the law firm’s interest under the writ of execution is an interest in the property of Mr. Rapin and is entitled to a protection order pursuant to ss. 10(1) and 10(2) of the Act. It is not in the interests of justice to refuse a protection order as provided under s.8(3).”
The Rapin case therefore supports the proposition that third-party creditors may have standing to assert an interest in property that has been seized pursuant to civil forfeiture legislation.
Decided by the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench on February 6, 2015.
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