Case Summary: Toronto Area Transit Operating Authority v Dell Holdings Ltd
12/5/2012 2:25 PM
Dell Holdings is one of the leading cases in expropriation law and is a decision rendered by the Supreme Court of Canada. The underlying facts were that Dell Holdings owned 40 acres of land in Mississauga, which it was planning on developing residentially. The Toronto Area Transit Operating Authority (“Toronto Transit”) required a site for the construction of a new Go-Train station and recommended two possible sites on Dell Holdings’s land. The City of Toronto held back approval for residential development on the land until Toronto Transit decided which portion to acquire. This delayed the development of the rest of Dell Holdings’s land by two years.
The Ontario Municipal Board found that the damage suffered by Dell Holdings as a result of the delay in the expropriation process, were recoverable as disturbance damages under the Ontario Expropriations Act. Dell Holdings was awarded $500,000. But both the divisional Court and the Court of Appeal held that the damages were not compensable under the Act.
The Supreme Court of Canada restored the award of $500,000 for disturbance damages. Importantly, it held that since the Expropriations Act is a remedial statute, it must be given a broad and liberal interpretation consistent with its purpose to adequately compensate those whose lands are taken to serve the public interest. This of course applies to all expropriation legislation in Canada. Like the Ontario Municipal Board, the SCC held that the damage sustained by Dell Holdings resulted from the delay in acquiring the site, and were compensable as the disturbance damages under the Act. The Court said that these damages were the natural and reasonable consequences of the expropriation.
The Court noted that an expropriated party is entitled to recover the damages caused by the expropriation which occur prior to the date of expropriation. The actual act of expropriation of any property is part of a continuing process. The approach to damages flowing from expropriation is not a temporal one, but rather one based on causation. In this case, since the increased costs of Dell Holdings’s development business between the announcement of potential expropriation and the actual taking of land were caused by the expropriation, the increased expenses were compensable as disturbance damages.
This case is extremely important in understanding how Courts interpret expropriation legislation and why. The remedial nature of the statute and the characterization by the Supreme Court of Canada of expropriation as one of the ultimate exercises of government authority resulted in the Court’s direction that such statutes are to be given a broad and liberal interpretation consistent with the purpose of fully compensating a land owner whose property has been taken.
If you have questions or would like to discuss this topic further, please contact Jeremy P. Smith at Patterson Law at 1-888-897-2001.