Dhingra v. Dhingra Estate – Follow-up

In a recent post, we looked at the Dhingra case, where the issue before the Court was whether a husband, who had killed his wife, is entitled to proceeds of a life insurance policy for which he was the named beneficiary.  The husband was tried on a charge of second-degree murder and found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder.  The Court found that he was entitled to the proceeds.

One of the issues before the Court was application of the Civil Remedies Act, 2001 (the “Act”).  The Act permits an application by the Attorney General (Ontario) for an order forfeiting property that is proceeds of unlawful activity.  “Unlawful activity” is defined broadly in the Act to include “an offence under an Act of Canada, Ontario or another province or territory of Canada”.  In addition, the Act provides that “proof that a person was … found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder in respect of an offence is proof that the person committed the offence”.  For various reasons, the Court held that in these circumstances the Act did not apply.  One of those reasons was that there had been no application for forfeiture by the Attorney General.  However, the Court stayed its order for payment of the proceeds to the husband for 30 days to permit the Attorney General to consider whether it wished to make a claim to the funds.  It appears now that the A-G has decided that it will make a claim so the matter will come back before the Courts.  The case then remains alive and it appears that public policy on this issue remains to be defined.

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