PAUL FIRST NATION v K & R 2014 INC, 2021 ABQB 32


7.3: Summary Judgment (Application and decision)

Case Summary

The Plaintiff, Paul First Nation (“Paul”) was the beneficial owner of land sold by the Defendant trustee, K & R 2014 Inc. (“K&R”) to the co-defendant, Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers (Canada) Ltd. (“Ritchie Bros”). Paul sued K&R for allegedly selling the land to Ritchie Bros without the knowledge or consent of the Band Council. Ritchie Bros applied for Summary Dismissal on the basis that the claim against it had no merit.

Rule 7.3(1)(b) allows a Defendant to apply for Summary Dismissal if “there is no merit to a claim or part of it.” The Court applied the principles from Hryniak v Mauldin, 2014 SCC 7, and held that Summary Judgment is appropriate where the moving party establishes the facts in issue on a balance of probabilities and demonstrates that there is no genuine issue requiring a Trial.

Paul’s first argument was that the land was considered “reserve land”, and any private sale was void under the Indian Act, RSC a985, c I-5. Justice Feth found that on the evidence and on a balance of probabilities, the land was not set apart and intended to be reserve land. His Lordship found that he was able to fairly and justly determine that no genuine issue for Trial remained.

Paul’s second argument was that Ritchie Bros was liable as a constructive trustee by the doctrines of either “knowing assistance” or “knowing receipt” of trust. Justice Feth found that on the evidence, there was no basis to conclude that Ritchie Bros had actual or constructive knowledge of a breach of trust or was wilfully blind or reckless. His Lordship noted that the evidence disclosed between the parties was already substantial and that each party had been obligated to put its best foot forward. He was satisfied that he was able to fairly and justly determine the matter without a Trial.

As such, the Action as against Ritchie Bros was summarily dismissed.

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