Episode 27 – Civil Forfeiture in Canada, with Bibhas Vaze

Civil forfeiture is a process in which the government seizes assets from persons suspected of involvement with crime without necessarily charging the owners with wrongdoing. Did you know that in British Columbia the government can seize and forfeit your car if you speed? Or that police can “seize first ask later” for property that is less than $75,000? This was a fascinating look at an area of law that receives little scrutiny, especially in how it can relate to immigration.

Bibhas Vaze is a criminal defence lawyer in Vancouver.


4:45 – An overview of New Can and how it relates to civil forfeiture.

5:30 – What is civil forfeiture?

13:15 – Who has the onus of proving there is a tracing of property to unlawful activity?

16:50 – Can the government seize property that is partially the proceed of crime or that was used to commit unlawful activity?

17:10 – What is unlawful activity in the civil forfeiture context?

19:20 – What is the size of British Columbia’s Civil Forfeiture Office? How much property has it seized since its inception?

20:30 – Do all civil forfeiture cases have to go to trial?

25:10 – When is the property actually seized?

29:00 – What level of connection between the unlawful activity and the property is necessary in order for property to be seized?

32:20 – What is constitutional creep, and how does it play into civil forfeiture?

37:50 – If someone is ordered by a criminal court to pay a fine or restitution, can they they be subject to civil forfeiture, essentially paying the fine twice?

46:00 – How far back can the government go? Is there a limitation period from when the unlawful activity was committed to when the property can be seized?

1:01 – An overview of the recent United States Supreme Court decision to strike down many aspects of their civil forfeiture regime. Could it happen in Canada?