Ratcliff Secures Costs for First Nations after a Victory against Canada at the Specific Claims Tribunal

Published Date: 
25 Jun 2014

Ratcliff lawyers James Tate and Ava Murphy, together with co-counsel, successfully argued that Blueberry River First Nations and Doig First Nation should get their costs after defeating Canada’s first major challenge to their specific claim.  

Blueberry River and Doig River First Nations assert that Canada breached its legal obligations to the First Nations when it failed to set aside reserves that included subsurface rights.  Canada has denied these obligations and also said that the First Nations were barred from bringing their claim before the Specific Claims Tribunal.  In a two-day hearing held in May 2013 at the Doig River First Nation community, the Tribunal considered whether the First Nations could bring their claim.  On February 20, 2014, the Tribunal released its decision: contrary to Canada’s assertion, the First Nations’ claim was not barred and should proceed to a full hearing on its merits.

 On June 25, 2014, the Tribunal agreed with Ratcliff and co-counsel that the First Nations should also be awarded their costs in successfully defeating Canada’s challenge to their right to bring their specific claim.  Unlike other interim applications, Canada’s motion to strike was actually a choice to have two of its four main defenses to the claim decided in advance of the main hearing.  The Tribunal had considered a substantial volume of evidence and heard extensive complex legal argument that went to the essence of the Claim.  In the circumstances, Canada should pay the First Nations their costs.

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