Foreign Nationals’ Property Tax

Update – August 26, 2021

After careful review and consideration, we have decided not to seek leave from the Supreme Court of Canada to appeal the decision of the Court of Appeal of British Columbia, which upheld the lower court’s judgment declaring the Tax constitutional. Although we were disappointed by the outcome, we note that class actions did fulfill their promise of access to justice by allowing this important issue to be considered by the highest court of this province.

Update – June 30, 2021

The Court of Appeal of British Columbia released its decision in the matter of the Plaintiff’s appeal of the summary trial decision. The Plaintiff’s appeal was dismissed and the summary trial decision declaring the Foreign Nationals’ Property Tax constitutional, was upheld. To read the full reasons of the Court of Appeal see here:

The Counsel team is currently learning the decision and considering next steps. There is no automatic right to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. Counsel team is considering the possibility of seeking leave to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. We will provide a further update once a decision has been made.

Update – October 2020:

The Court of Appeal of British Columbia heard the Plaintiff’s appeal of the summary trial decision rendered on October 24, 2019, on October 28-30, 2020. Judgment has been reserved. We will provide an update as soon as judgment is released or if there are any further developments in the meantime.

Update – November 22, 2019

On November 22, 2019 the Plaintiff filed a Notice of Appeal from the Summary Trial Judgment with the Court of Appeal for British Columbia.

Update October 2019:

Summary trial concluded in April 2019 and on October 24, 2019 the Court issued reasons for judgment dismissing the case. The Court found that the foreign buyers’ tax does not offend the separation of powers between the Federal and Provincial governments under the Constitution. The Court further ruled that the tax does not constitute a breach of s. 15 of the Charter.

There is an automatic right to appeal to the British Columbia Court of Appeal. The Counsel team are currently learning the decision and considering options for appeal.

Update – April 11, 2019:

Summary trial concluded on April 1, 2019.

Judgment has been reserved and we expect it will take several months before final judgment is rendered.

We will provide an update as soon as judgment is released or if there are any further developments in this matter in the meantime.

Update – March 25, 2019:

Continuation of the summary trial took place over 10 days as scheduled during the weeks of February 25 and March 4, 2019.

An additional one day hearing has been set down for April 1, 2019 to allow the parties to complete their submissions.

An update will be provided once the summary trial has concluded.

Update – July 30, 2018:

Summary trial took place as scheduled during the weeks of June 25 and July 16, 2018. However, it became apparent that the parties and the Court will require more time in this matter.

As such two additional weeks have been scheduled for the continuation of the summary trial during the weeks of February 25 and March 4, 2019.

Update – February 2nd, 2018:

Summary trial is scheduled to take place on the week of June 25th, 2018 with the possibility of five additional hearing days to take place on the week of July 16th, 2018.

Depending on the outcome of summary trial the case will then proceed to certification as described below.

On January 29th, 2018 the claim was further amended. A copy of the Further Amended Notice of Civil Claim can be found here.

Update – November 1st, 2017:

This action is being case managed by Mr. Justice Bowden.  While this action remains a proposed class action, and the Plaintiff is prosecuting it as such, Justice Bowden has directed that a summary trial is to proceed before certification.  To this end, the dates that had been set aside for certification have been vacated and a summary trial hearing has been scheduled for the last week of June 2018. It is possible the hearing will require an additional week to be heard.

Update – April 6th, 2017:

The certification hearing has now been scheduled to take place over two days on November 2nd and 3rd, 2017.

A proposed class action was commenced in the British Columbia Supreme Court against the Government of British Columbia alleging that certain provisions of the Property Transfer Tax Act, RSBC 1996, c 378 (“PTTA”) which impose an additional 15% tax on the purchase of residential properties by foreign entities in the Greater Vancouver Regional District (the “Foreign Nationals’ Property Tax”) are unconstitutional. The original claim was filed on September 19th, 2016 and was amended on February 28th, 2017.  A copy of the amended claim can be found here.

Proposed Class

This action is brought on behalf of all persons or corporations who purchased residential property and paid or will pay the Foreign Nationals’ Property Tax from August 2nd, 2016 to the date this action is certified. The class is broken down into subclasses depending on the country of origin of each proposed class member, and where they reside. More information about the proposed Class and Subclasses is available on the amended claim.

There are different rules for participation in class actions depending on whether persons physically reside in British Columbia or elsewhere (whether within Canada or abroad). If the proposed class is certified by the Court, persons who reside in British Columbia will be automatically included in the action, but will have a period of time in which to opt out (exclude themselves) if they do not want to participate. Conversely, persons who reside outside British Columbia will have to elect to participate in the action during a certain period of time after certification, so it is important that those persons monitor this website from time to time for updates.  We are also keeping a list of persons who are potential class members and wish to receive direct notice of developments in the action so they do not miss out on any timelines. If you would like to be added to the list, please follow the steps below under “How do I sign up for more information or to receive copies of any notices”.  Make sure to include your country of citizenship and where you physically reside.

What happens next?

The first substantial step in a proposed class action is for the Court to consider whether the action can proceed as a class action, and define the class and the common issues to be determined on behalf of the class. This process is called “certification”. The parties appeared before the Court on March 7th, 2017 for an initial case management conference where a schedule was put in place leading to a certification application in October 2017.

How do I participate?

If the action is certified, all persons who fit the class definition will have an opportunity to decide whether to participate in the action or not.  Persons who live in BC are automatically included (but have a chance to exclude themselves), whereas persons who live outside BC will have an opportunity to ask to be included. There will be a limited period of time in which people can decide whether to remain or join in the action, depending on whether they live in BC or elsewhere. For this reason, it is important that potential Class members monitor the progress of this action and watch out for any notices.

How do I sign up for more information or to receive copies of any notices?

While it is not necessary to sign up with us, we are encouraging all potential Class members to do that so they can be added to our database of known potential claimants, be updated on the progress of this proposed class action and receive direct notification of certification and the opportunity to participate in this action, or other substantial steps. If you would like to do so,  please contact:

Branch MacMaster LLP
Barristers & Solicitors
Suite 1410 – 777 Hornby Street
Vancouver , BC V6C 1S4
Telephone: 604 654 2951
Fax: 604 684 3429

Please note that registration with us does not mean you are a part of the class action; determination of eligibility is made by the Court in the certification process, and you may need to make an election if the action is certified.  However, registration ensures you receive notice of certification and of the opportunity to exercise your right to opt out (for persons living in BC) or to opt in (for persons living outside BC), and continue to participate in the action.

The Lawyers

Lawyers from Branch MacMaster LLP, Arvay Finlay LLP and Appleton & Associates are working together to advance the proposed class action.

Within Branch MacMaster LLP, the lawyers responsible for this file are:

Luciana P. Brasil and Avichay Sharon
1410 – 777 Hornby Street
Vancouver, BC  V6Z 1S4
(t) 604 654 2999
(f) 604 684 3429

Within Arvay Finlay LLP, the lawyers responsible for this file is:

Joseph J. Arvay, Q.C., Mark Underhill and David Wu
1710 – 401 West Georgia Street
Vancouver, BC Canada V6B 5A1
(t) 604 696 9828
(f) 888 575 3281

Within Appleton & Associates, the lawyers responsible for this file are:

Barry Appleton
77 Bloor Street W
Suite 1800
Toronto, ON M5S 1M2
(t) 416 966 8800
(f) 416 966 8801

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