On March 5th, 1998, the Nanaimo Immigrant Society (“NISS”) and the Nanaimo Community Bingo Association (“NCBA”) commenced a proposed class action against the Province of British Columbia seeking the recovery of “license fees” imposed by the Province on charitable gaming between 1997 and 1998. The representative plaintiffs alleged that the “license fees” are unconstitutional and outside the power of the Province. On October 6th, 1999, the Sooke Marine Rescue Society (“SMRS”) was added as a plaintiff. The NCBA was subsequently dropped as a plaintiff.
Branch MacMaster worked in conjunction with constitutional law experts Arvay Finlay relation to this case.
In a decision of Mr. Justice Hutchinson dated December 8th, 1999, the Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled that this lawsuit could proceed as a class action and that the NISS and SMRS could act as representative plaintiffs.
In a decision dated February 6th, 2001, the Court of Appeal rejected the Province’s appeal of the decision to certify the class.
The class members included:
- Charitable and religious organizations who managed and conducted charitable casino events in British Columbia between 1977 and June 1st, 1998 in respect of which a licence fee calculated as a percentage of gross proceeds or receipts was paid, except casino events held after May 1st, 1987 pursuant to a Social Occasional licence; and
- Charitable and religious organizations who managed and conducted charitable bingo events between 1977 and July 1st, 1998 in respect of which a licence fee calculated as a percentage of total value of prizes, gross receipts or proceeds was paid.
The claim against the Province was for the recovery of all licence fees paid to the Province by all class members between 1977 and July 1st, 1998.
Other decisions by the court in respect of this case:
- Decision of Mr. Justice Hutchinson dated January 19th, 1999 regarding pre-certification issues
- Decision of Mr. Justice Hutchinson dated June 17th, 1999 confirming existence of a cause of action