Tending Gardens, Ploughing Fields, and the Unexamined Drift to Constructive Takings at Common Law


  • Douglas Harris


Expropriation law in Canada has operated on the basis of two presumptions at common law: that compensation is owing for the compulsory acquisition of property unless specifically indicated otherwise by statute; and, that no compensation is owing for land use regulation unless specifically provided for by statute. In its decision in Annapolis Group Inc. v Halifax Regional Municipality, the Supreme Court of Canada abandoned the second presumption that compensation for land use regulation required a statutory foundation. The majority and dissent proceed on the unexamined foundation that there is a common law basis for compensation in claims for constructive takings or de facto takings. This article sets out the earlier consensus, documents the drift to constructive takings at common law, and presents the implications.






Symposium in honour of Bruce Ziff