The Common Intention of the Parties and the Payment of Annuities Under the Numbered Treaties: Who Assumed the Risk of Inflation?


  • Robert Metcs



The article examines a key term in the so-called Numbered Treaties between the Crown and the Indians of the northwest: the provisions for “annuities” or annual payments in perpetuity by the Crown to the Indian signatories. The author observes that the Crown, in the performance of this obligation, has adhered consistently to the monetary law principle known as nominalism, thus asserting that the common intention of the parties to these treaties was for the First Nations signatories to assume the entire risk of any future loss in value or purchasing power attached to the nominal sums provided. It is argued, however, that the stability of the annuity in terms of purchasing power (with a consequent placement of the risk of any decline in the buying power of the dollar on the Crown) must, if not found explicitly within the terms of the treaties as the expressed intent of the parties, be implied as a reflection of their unexpressed intent. Any interpretation that entails the risk of inflation being assumed by the First Nations signatories must therefore be based entirely on factors other than the common intention of the parties to the Numbered Treaties.





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