Federal Court

Criminal Law

Search and seizure

Detention of property seized

Finding of contravention under Excise Act not required before legal forfeiture occurs

Return of seized goods. RCMP found contraband tobacco in truck leaving plaintiffs’ residence. RCMP seized $181,183 in cash from plaintiffs’ residence pursuant to search warrant issued under s. 487 of Criminal Code. Plaintiffs received seizure report, providing that funds were seized pursuant to s. 260 of Excise Act, 2001. Plaintiffs were charged under Act and Code, but criminal charges were dropped. Plaintiffs’ request for return of seized funds was out of time. Plaintiffs brought motion for summary judgment of their action for declaration that defendant Crown was unlawfully detaining seized funds and to determine whether Code or Act applied to seized funds. Defendant brought motion to summarily dismiss claim. Plaintiffs’ motion dismissed and defendant’s motion granted. This was appropriate case for determination by summary judgment. Plaintiffs’ argument that there must be finding of contravention under Act before legal forfeiture occurred was not consistent with Act. Seized funds were seized pursuant to search warrant to verify compliance with Act. Act applied to seized funds and warrant under Code did not change this conclusion. Provisions in Act that provided process for objections to seizures operated to oust jurisdiction of court. Plaintiffs’ failure to take steps under Act to object to seizure within outlined time frames meant there was no genuine issue for trial. 

Flaro v. Canada (2018), 2018 CarswellNat 650, 2018 CarswellNat 997, 2018 FC 229, 2018 CF 229, Ann Marie McDonald J. (F.C.).

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