In January 2013, Branch MacMaster LLP assumed conduct of a proposed class proceeding against the City of Coquitlam and the Minister of Justice for British Columbia regarding warrantless electrical inspections of properties performed as part of the City of Coquitlam’s Public Safety Inspection Program.
The plaintiffs alleged that under the Public Safety Inspection Program, the City of Coquitlam gave residents and owners 24 hours’ notice that the property in question would be searched, then sent a Public Safety Inspection Team to search the property the following day. The Public Safety Inspection Team was accompanied by members of the Coquitlam detachment of the RCMP. Following the search, Coquitlam would revoke the occupancy permit to the property, order that electrical services be disconnected, and assess an inspection fee of $5,000.
The plaintiffs allege that such warrantless searches constitute a trespass by the City of Coquitlam and the RCMP, and that unless authorized by a warrant such searches and enforcement measures constitute a violation of the plaintiffs’ and proposed class members’ rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
On December 22nd, 2015, Justice Abrioux released reasons for judgment dismissing the certification application. This means that the court decided that the case cannot be prosecuted as a class action. This does not mean that the individual claims have no merit, but only that persons wishing to pursue claims have to bring their own individual actions. To this end, the commencement of the proposed class action suspended the running of limitation periods, but that time is now running. Persons wishing to bring individual claims should do so as soon as possible.