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Property Law Inventory

Year Title Jurisdiction Body Responsible Court Criteria and Methods of Evaluation Description Description of Reforms Development Links to Publications Publications Related Reforms Results Status Subjects Timeline
2009 Contracts for the Sale and Purchase of Land: Purchasers' Remedies


Alberta Law Reform Institute

This report addresses the current state of the law (as of the time of publication) concerning situations where a purchaser of land has fulfilled his or her obligations under the purchase contract, but the vendor has not transferred the land. In Semelhago v. Paramadevan, [1996] 2 SCR 415, the Supreme Court of Canada determined that in most such cases, the purchaser will be entitled to damages, but not specific performance (i.e., receipt of the land in question), unless the parcel of land can be proven to be "unique." The report contends that provision of damages to the purchaser in this type of case is not always in the interests of justice, and suggests that statutory changes be made with the effect of moving the presumptive remedy in these cases back to specific performance.

The report makes three recommendations:

(1) That, for the purpose of determining whether a purchaser under a contract for the sale of land is entitled to specific performance of the contract, theland that is the subject of the contract be conclusively deemed to be unique at all material times, and legislation should be enacted to that effect.
(2)  That a contract for the sale and purchase of land should confer on the purchaser an interest in the land and, where the land is covered by a certificate of title, a right to file a caveat protecting that interest. The legislation we have recommended will have that effect, as it will restore the pre-Semelhago law under which the purchaser had an interest in land and a right to file a caveat.
(3)  That our recommendations apply to the following, all of which we include in the term “contract for the sale and purchase of land”: (a) a contract providing for payment of the purchase price over time; (b) a contract entered into for closing at a future time; (c) an option for the purchase of land where the option has been exercised; (d) an offer in writing for the purchase of land which has been accepted in writing by the owner of the land; and (e) an agreement to grant a lease 



  • Real estate law
  • Contract
  • Property
  • Ownership
  • Land


2010 Report on New Probate Rules

British Columbia

The British Columbia Law Institute

Probate Rules concerns reform of the rules of court relating to probate and administration of estates in British Columbia. It is a necessary sequel to the Succession Law Reform Project which BCLI completed in 2006. It s intended in part to implement procedural recommendations made in the Final Report for that project. The Probate Rules Revision Project is funded by the Ministry of Attorney General of British Columbia.

Among the other significant changes to probate procedure proposed in this consultation paper are the following: 

  • a 21 day notice period that must elapse between the notice of an intended application for a grant of probate or administration and the filing of the application;
  • a single application form for a grant or resealing, comprising the information now found in the applicant’s affidavit and the disclosure document concerning the deceased, the last will if any, and the deceased’s estate;
  • abolition of the need to “clear off” potential administrators having equal or prior right to a grant;
  • provision for an application to remove a caveat;
  • provision for new procedures at the probate stage contemplated by the Wills, Estates and Succession Act, such as curative orders to admit wills to probate despite formal defects, rectification of wills and upholding of gifts to attesting witnesses in some circumstances;
  • deletion of the schedule of proposed distribution from an application for a grant or resealing;
  • disclosure of debts in an application for a grant or resealing would be limited to debts encumbering specific assets;
  • discontinuance, consent dismissal, and settlement without leave of the court would be permitted in contested probate proceedings as in other civil matters, and default judgment would be possible except in proceedings for revocation;

BCLI believes the new probate rules set out in this report will modernize and simplify probate procedure in keeping with the objects of the new Civil Rule. 


  • wills, estates & life planning
  • rules of Court
  • probate Rules
  • courts & tribunals
  • administration of estates
  • property law


2010 Wills and the Legal Effects of Changed Circumstances


Alberta Law Reform Institute

In its Final Report on Wills, the Alberta Law Reform Institute (ALRI) makes a number of recommendations for reform of the Wills Act. The main recommendations are in the following areas:  Changes that Alter or Revoke a Will,  Revocation by Law,  Reviving a Revoked Will,  Admission of Extrinsic Evidence,  Rectification,  Failed Gifts,  Beneficiary Issues,  Ademption by Conversion,  Legal Discrimination Against Children Born Outside Marriage.


  • Wills and estate law
  • Comparative and foreign law 


2011 Estate Administration


Alberta Law Reform Institute

The Report for Discussion by the Alberta Law Reform Institute (ALRI) raises issues relating to the administration of the estate of a deceased person and the role and responsibilities of the personal representative administrating the estate. 

Estate administration is the job of gathering the assets of the deceased, paying the debts and distributing the estate to the persons entitled by will or the intestate succession legislation.
Often the personal representative [PR] will be a family member who may have no previous experience of such a job and will also be dealing with the death of a family member at the same time.
Surveys have found that the job of a PR is not well understood and there is little information available to help.

This Report for Discussion proposes key changes to improve the process of estate administration in Alberta.
First, it proposes that a PR, whether appointed by a will or on intestacy, have the power to act from the death. Second, it proposes to set out clearly the values that the PR must follow in administering an estate. The PR must act with a duty of care, administer the estate in a timely manner, and maintain communication. Third, it proposes to outline a clear and rational statement explaining the process of estate administration and the PR’s core tasks. The starting point for this statement will be the current list of the PR’s core tasks in the Surrogate Rules. Finally, it stresses the importance of communication by the PR to the beneficiaries, creditors and others. Communication arises in all aspects of the PR’s job. The process of administering an estate is made easier for the PR and all involved if communication is open and effective. 

Research paper

  • Estate
  • Deceased person
  • Property law
2011 Report on Section 29(2) of the Land Title Act and Notice of Unregistered Interests

British Columbia

British Columbia Law Institute

This is the first report issued by the British Columbia Law Institute (BCLI) in connection with Phase 2 of the Real Property Reform Project, a law reform initiative funded by The Law Foundation of British Columbia, the Notary Foundation, and the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia. In Phase 1, a preliminary scoping study con-­‐ ducted with the aid of an advisory committee, BCLI identified a number of aspects of real property law in British Columbia in need of reform. One of these was the uncertainty arising from conflicting interpretations of section 29(2) of the Land Title Act. Uncertainty surrounding the effect of section 29(2) complicates dealings with land in British Columbia and raises the level of risk and expense associated with them.
British Columbia was among the first jurisdictions to adopt the Torrens system of land title registration. The Torrens system was conceived to overcome the anachronisms, expense, and risk of the common law system of conveyancing, which required purchasers to investigate the chain of title. Under the common law system, the rights acquired by purchasers and encumbrancers were subject to pre-­existing legal interests, whether or not they knew of them. Purchasers and encumbrancers were also subject to the vagaries of the doctrine of constructive notice, under which they were deemed to know the details of equitable interests they could have discovered by whatever inquiries that a court, with the benefit of hindsight, considered to be reasonable.

This report recommends that the fraud exception be retained, but that the Land Title Act be amended to provide that mere knowledge of an unregistered interest cannot in itself be treated as fraud. British Columbia’s land title system is a unique blend of equity and Torrens principles, however. This unique blend of principles would be overturned if considerations of fairness were subordinated completely to conclusiveness of the register. The report also recommends amending the Land Title Act to include two new exceptions to the general rule in section 29(2).

The additional exceptions would be as follows:

  • someone acquiring a transfer or other interest referred to in section 29(2) from a registered owner for value who obtained actual knowledge of an earlier unregistered interest before entering into a legally binding agreement with the registered owner would acquire the title or other interest subject to the unregistered interest;
  • someone obtaining a transfer or other interest referred to in section 29(2) from a registered owner gratuitously (e.g., by gift, under a will, or pursuant to an order under the Wills Variation Act), and who obtained actual knowledge of an earlier unregistered interest before registration of the transfer or other interest obtained from the registered owner, would acquire the title or other interest subject to the unregistered interest. 



  • Land titles 
  • Land registration
  • Torrens system conveyancing
  • Property law
2011 Seniors-only Housing

Nova Scotia

Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia

This report considers whether to amend the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act to provide an exemption for seniors-only housing. Under such an exemption, a housing development (nursing home, assisted living facility, mobile home park, public housing, condominium project, subdivision, etc.) which restricted residence to seniors would be immune from a complaint of age discrimination under the Act. Such an exemption has been adopted in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland & Labrador.
In Nova Scotia, a private members bill along similar lines was introduced in 2006, but did not pass. In 2007 Halifax Regional Council recommended that the province consider such an amendment, to address an increasing need for housing restricted to seniors. The question of whether to introduce such an exemption into the Nova Scotia Act was referred to the Commission by the Attorney-General in March of 2010.
The Commission published a Discussion Paper in December of 2010. The Paper set out the Commission’s preliminary conclusion that an exemption for seniors-only housing should not be introduced into the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act. The Paper invited public comment on this proposal, and some related questions. We received a number of responses (see Appendix A). Some voiced support for the Commission’s preliminary conclusion, and some not. In the end, we remain of the view that the Act should not be amended to include an exemption. In the discussion to follow, we address the concerns of those respondents who favoured a statutory exemption

"This report conclude that the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act should not be amended to expressly exempt seniors-only housing. The compelling interests that may be served by some forms of housing that cater to seniors’ distinctive needs are better protected, we suggest, by a case- specific approach under the existing provisions of the Human Rights Act, rather than a blanket exemption for any seniors-only rule in respect of housing." 


  • Elder law 
  • Older persons 
  • Human Rights 
  • Law Commission 
  • Property law
2011 Final Report
2010 Discussion Paper


2012 Joint Ventures


Joint ventures by business entities have become increasingly common and increasingly important to the economic life of Canada and other countries. They are prevalent in the construction industry for large projects such as dams, road works and public buildings. They are often used in the energy industry to provide efficiencies in the development of oil and gas properties. They are also used for smaller undertakings such as the development of a small subdivision. However, while the joint venture has developed, the legal landscape in which it operates has not developed to accommodate it. In particular, a joint venture is at risk of being categorized for legal purposes as a partnership and thus subject to a Partnership Act first adopted in 1896 and to common law that has developed over the centuries. There is thus a lack of fit between the applicable law on the one hand and the exigencies of present-day joint ventures on the other hand. This lack of fit results in a degree of uncertainty which has not necessarily been removed even if joint ventures have attempted to assert their status clearly.

We have not attempted to make a statutory regime for joint ventures, leaving them to govern their relationships by contract. This is on the basis that joint ventures need the flexibility that a contractual agreement provides to them. Where the parties to such an agreement wish to make it clear that they are not a partnership, we have recommended a method by which such a declaration would be effective. In our view, this would bring about the necessary clarity without imposing unnecessary legislative regulation.


  • property law
  • joint ventures
  • business organizations
May 2012 Final Report
May 2011 Consultation Memorandum