Supreme Court of Canada Rules 407 ETR Cannot Deny Your Plate After Bankruptcy


Today is a great day for consumers! In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed 407 ETR’s appeal to continue collecting on discharged bankrupts, with costs. The group “Stop the 407 ETR’s Abuse of Power” has maintained, from the beginning, that the 407 Act did not give 407 ETR the right to ignore consumer protection laws. Today’s decision by the Supreme Court of Canada proves this to be so.

Today’s decision is estimated to affect approximately 7,000 people, in the Province of Ontario, that have been discharged under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, but yet, 407 ETR continued to try and collect from them by placing them in “Plate Denial”until they paid up. Plate Denial means that you will not be able to renew your sticker on your vehicle’s license plate until you pay the company what it says you owe.

When 407 ETR set up shop here in Canada, the company promised it would follow the laws of the land it operated in. However, it became evident early on that this company had no respect for our consumer protection laws and because of their business model, it exerted itself like as if it had some sort of special status. The company was NEVER given special status however, because events like the epic court case between the Province of Ontario and the company… it gave weight to the appearance that the company had special status.

What this decision proves is that our laws are standing the test of time in this ever changing global landscape we find ourselves in.  We are living in a period of time whereby treaties are signed, by our leaders, such as NAFTA and TPP,that can cause a lot of confusion and debate  in the marketplace on matters of sovereignty. Some fear provisions in these agreements give investors, that ARE NOT nationals, more of a voice on policy matters than citizens in our nation. This decision shows that, that is NOT the case. When foreign, multinational corporations set up shop, they agree to follow the laws of the land they operate within. They are not given special status.

The Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act has been in place for more than a century and it doesn’t just benefit individual consumers that find themselves in dire straights. In recent years we have seen large corporations like those in the automotive and banking industries find financial protection within these statutes. It’s given these companies the ability to reorganize and continue to operate their businesses. Likewise, for consumers that find themselves in over their heads, we are thankful we live in a country that gives people a second chance to reorganize their lives and continue to thrive after falling into financial troubles.
407 ETR has been ignoring our laws on how companies are to treat consumers for far too long. It’s about time the wind is taken out of their sails. This decision heps level the playing field for consumers. Prior to this decision, it seemed regardless of what our consumer protection laws said, this company exerted themselves like as if they were above the law. Their chosen business model doesn’t mean we have to change our laws to suit them. They set up shop here and promised to follow the laws of the land they operated within. They failed to do so. This ruling pulled a few of the company’s teeth and their bite isn’t so bad anymore. Thousands of consumers will now be free from this company once and for all!
We wait to hear from Class Action lawyers with respects to the certification of their lawsuit against the company. We aren’t finished with this company yet.
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41 Responses to “Supreme Court of Canada Rules 407 ETR Cannot Deny Your Plate After Bankruptcy”

  1. don says:

    Hi Tammy,

    Thanks for covering this on topic for the last few years, I cracked open bottle of wine for this special occasion.

    Don

  2. Dianne says:

    Yippeee!!!!

  3. MZ says:

    Excellent decision but its unfortunate that this company and its management still don’t seem to get it. Hopefully the class action will be significant enough to affect their bottom line. Not likely but one can hope. It seems they did knowingly break the law.

    In their news release they are requiring proof of discharge before ending their collection actions of plate denial.

    http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/implementation-of-the-supreme-court-of-canada-decision-in-the-matter-of-407-etr-concession-company-limited-v-superintendent-of-bankruptcy-547770941.html

    In case they don’t realize, once a consumer or business files bankruptcy, all collection action and proceedings must cease. Plate denial is recognized by all as a collection action.

    Inspector Javert would be so proud.

    • Tammy Flores says:

      Class Action lawyers are dealing with them as we speak. Gotta love how they word things. Their main priority right now is to ease investors fears. Hence why they claim it doesn’t affect them financially. Well it’s only about 7000 people. I mean how many actually paid after their bankruptcy to drive? All that money will have to be paid back. And how much is on their receivables that they now have to write off? NO. ..has no effect on them financially at all. Notice how they have to admit it was a position they took. They never got permission to ignore any consumer protection laws like a former Minister claimed years ago in the Toronto Star. Oh yes I will be doing a blog on that. The Province can regulate licensing but that doesn’t give the company a pass on consumer protection laws. Just wait for the other shoe to drop.

      • MZ says:

        Its incredible that they are being so litigious. You wouldn’t think that going to court to question every obvious law would be an effective management strategy. At some point the courts will have had enough.

        I think management is either scared of their investors, getting bad advice or intentionally running the company into the wall on every legal issue.

        The bankruptcy case was so obvious.

        • Jm says:

          Amazing how the system can grind to a near standstill when there is private corporation money involved. I wonder how long anyone else could drag this out for.

          I still say someone is getting greased in this whole situation. Someone profited aside from the 407 goons… Canadian politician(s) I assume.

          Thanks for all the help Canadian Supreme Court, and slimy politicians. We really appreciate your six figure income worthiness.

  4. Mark says:

    407’s website is saying that they are still determining if this applies to Consumer Proposals as well. Any insight on how they would think they have wiggle room here?!?

    • Tammy Flores says:

      They don’t have wiggle room, they are just being jerks. That’s where the Class Action lawyers will beat them down. I should have more info soon.

      • Verna Friday says:

        well this is good news for people who have declared bankruptcy……but what about people like me who have been sent three bills now totalling nearly $6,000. and who has been in plate denial for the last 7 years now….my partner and I have lost thousands of dollars in his business because I am the only driver in the house and we have not been able to get around on our own since then…..we have had to hire taxis everywhere or hire people to drive us around. I had to have a major operation this past summer and I was hospitalized in North Bay, Ontario and had to travel from Orillia for appointments etc.. ( I had a colectomy but I do not have cancer, it has been determined..so I am very fortunate) I am 72 years old now and I dont know how many good years of driving I will have but I would like to be able to own a car and drive soon.
        But I would like to congratulate you on your continued perseverance in this whole nasty matter.

        • Verna Friday says:

          I guess the questions to my previous post is this….do I have to declare bankruptcy to get rid of that bill that has grown in to three bills now…I havent used the 407 hwy since 2001.

        • Jm says:

          Just a little bit of advice.
          Drive without the sticker.
          $90 fine, no points, does NOT AFFECT INSURANCE RATES.

          2012 expired.
          3 tickets
          $270 in fines

          When I have been pulled over, I tell the officer exactly the “Truth”.

          Each time they say the same thing… “Well it’s cheaper to pay the fine than the 407, I understand. ”

          Just FYI

          • tj says:

            Bad advise as if and when you should have an accident you will be denied by your insurance for driving a non legally registered vehicle.

          • Tammy Flores says:

            That’s right Verna, please don’t break the law just because the company is. I know this is just awful for you and I’m sorry we can’t fix it faster.

          • Tammy Flores says:

            I don’t advocate breaking the law. Verna, I really do sympathize with you. I am so sorry you had to deal with this on top of your real life issues. It’s not fair.

          • MSM says:

            Certify your vehicle, change your ownership name to something different, get new plates under this different name with a new RIN#. They can not deny you a new plate, just a renewal for your previous plate.

          • Jm says:

            By the way… Does it sucks to have to break the law. YES!!! Am I willing to be homeless and jobless because I can’t drive? NO!!!

            Get real folks… If I wanted to drive illegally that’s a different story. Even a copy that pulled me over explained his wife is going through the same thing and is paying the tickets as they come, just like me.

            Before preaching about what to do and not to do… Think about a professional that requires a vehicle to do their job. And the transfer to someone else’s name? Sure… If you are married, no problem. If not, not so easy. Just realize I don’t do anything because I like to. It’s because I have to. The 407 has broken the law for years, I am just doing what I can to survive, just the same as anyone else would do in my position.

  5. Jm says:

    Until they stop plate denial in general, this is just a soother.

    So while in consumer proposal or bankruptcy… Sorry you’re still screwed?
    When trying to fix your life, you may need yo drive to work. Denying a plate to those that have needed to go down the bankruptcy and consumer proposal avenue is not right.

    This decision was a no news item, as really it’s just fluff to feed to the masses.

    • Jay says:

      Agreed plate denial is hindering and sometimes causing the inability to earn for some people. If you need to drive to earn this can be a huge stress and life altering effect.

    • MZ says:

      Plate denial was meant as a mechanism to collect on tolls because the theory was … they were tolls and where for very small amounts. I think if the legislators knew how much the 407 would ultimately charge they wouldn’t have given them those powers. (If they had the brain power that is)

      • Jm says:

        This decision is a “no news” item.

        Waste if tax payer dollars for a decision that should have taken 10 minutes being dragged in to years.

      • Verna Friday says:

        It was the Ontario government who gave the Spanish 407 company the avenue/right to influence the Ministry of Transportation to inflict plate denials on individuals who owed them money. But the percentage of interest 407 is charging in “criminal”!!!

        • Jm says:

          Just glorified and masked, organized crime.

          Follow the money, and I’m sure you will find corruption everywhere you look.

          • MZ says:

            I’m glad the supreme court made the obvious decision.

            The thing is, this should never have gone this far. The laws are on the books. This is old case law.

            The 407 is still getting it wrong. They are requiring a notification of discharge before stopping their plate denial collection action. On top of that , they are putting that Mathew guys name all over everything. Trying to further embarrass possibly?

            People that declare bankruptcy do it as a last resort. Its a legitimate financial action that more often than not is taken because of life changes or predatory lenders/companies.

            Its probably time to push companies that have penalties and interest rates above prime into a separate category of creditor. They should not have the rights they do when they are using predatory tactics. Next time you see anyone coming up with new bankruptcy or consumer protection legislation that marginalizes predatory companies be sure to support them.

            Its time to put take away the rights of companies like that with better legislation.

          • Tammy Flores says:

            I am all for that. Any news of who supports this?

  6. Rick says:

    Hi Tammy,

    I think we need to take a step back and not celebrate just yet. Although the Supreme Court of Canada ruled against the 407, the Office of the President at the 407 has come up with more excuses and ways to continue to deny plate renewals to Bankrupt individuals in direct defiance of the ruling.
    I just came from their Highway 27 and Steeles Avenue location where they told me although approximately $20,000 of the $22,500 outstanding amount has been removed from my account, there is still a balance of about $2,500 that I have to pay. Their reason is that the charges were incurred AFTER the discharge date of my bankruptcy.
    This is absolutely bogus. In fact, I did not use the ETR from the date that I filed my bankruptcy, let alone using it after I was discharged. They said that they will send me a statement of my account but it won’t show the usage dates proving that the trips were taken after discharge.
    Further more, the amount outstanding is equal to the amount I had originally filed in my bankruptcy so it seems as though all they’re removing are whatever in interest charges and fees they’ve added since my discharge.
    What action, if any, can I take??? I am livid at the 407 ETR’s continued defiance of the law at the highest level. I guess they feel that they’re above the law and above the judgements levied against them by The Supreme Court of Canada? This audacity and arrogance shouldn’t surprise me given their behaviour to date. PLEASE HELP!!! Thanks Tammy.

    Rick

    • Tammy Flores says:

      Contact Class Action lawyers Scarfone Hawkins 905-523-1333 They are dealing with the Class Action now. This company must provide proof that you were on the highway since the date you filed. Write to https://www.407etr.com/en/help/policies/privacy-policy.html

      Randy Luyk, Vice President, Business Process Management
      407 ETR Privacy Officer
      6300 Steeles Avenue West,
      Woodbridge Ontario, Canada, L4H 1J1

      You may want to contact him via email RLuyk@407ETR.com

      Or call him (905) 265-4070, ext. 5216

      Ask him for invoices/proof of trips that occurred after the date you filed for bankruptcy.

  7. Mark says:

    Thanks Tammy! I appreciate all you are doing to help keep us informed and fight for our rights!

  8. Rick says:

    Tammy, you just made the top of my Christmas list this year! Thank you for the information and for your continued support!

    Rick

    • Tammy Flores says:

      As a matter of fact Rick, this is from their website https://407etr.com/en/help/general/faq-bankrupt/faq123.html

      “2) When and how will 407 ETR be implementing the decision of the court?
      407 ETR is immediately implementing the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada. We will communicate in writing with those persons who have previously informed 407 ETR regarding their bankruptcy and who may be impacted by the decision.

      If you have provided us with your Notice of Bankruptcy and Order of Discharge or Certificate of Discharge and if pre-bankruptcy amounts owed to 407 ETR are provable claims under the BIA and are currently in plate denial, you will be sent a letter within 10 business days of receipt. The letter will confirm any credit that may be applied to your 407 ETR account and the Ministry of Transportation will be advised to update their records to reflect this credit.

      You may be removed from plate denial if:

      you have not incurred any new debt with 407 ETR for which you may be in plate denial since your assignment into bankruptcy; and
      you have no other debts with the Ministry of Transportation (e.g. parking tickets) for which plate denial is in effect.”

      Although a lot of what they say about proposals and monies paid back to people they essentially extorted money from before they gave their plates back… well we will have to see what Class Action lawyers say about that.

  9. Single Mom.... says:

    Hello Tammy

    I am a single mother raising 2 kids, I have 2 separate bills from ETR one almost 20,000 and one 2200.00
    Since I was going through a divorce I didn’t pay either as I wanted the ex to have to pay his share..
    After 3 years of fighting with him in court for support and me having to defend myself by the end of it I wanted it done so he got away with out having to pay towards any of our marital debit..

    My question is , if I claim bankruptcy now after my discharge would I be able to have cars plates in my name again.. I have been on plate denial for approx 5 years 🙁
    Just not sure how to go about it this or who can help..

    Thanks

    Single mom needs advice!

    • Tammy Flores says:

      I would NOT advocate ever that you should claim bankruptcy just because this company is abusing power our government is giving them. There is also a case 407 ETR has appealed re: the Limitations Act. We are waiting to hear from the appeal court when that hearing will be held. As far as I understand, Torkin Manes is in the process of responded to 407 ETR’s materials. I would say you should wait for this outcome. We will be out of debtors prison soon.

  10. Single Mom says:

    Sorry for to mention that I’m sure 80% is all interest from the last maybe 8-10 yrs
    As when things were tight in our marriage and we had trouble paying rent and food is when we stopped paying 407….

    Thanks again

  11. me says:

    Tammy, what about them going against the SOLA? What’s going on/being done about this?

  12. Jenn says:

    We got our letter last night “forgiving” a $10,000 bankruptcy debt that started out as $1,600 many years ago. It has been a long painful wait however the end result is well worth it. Thank you to all involved in pushing so hard to make this happen. On the down side we now have a car sitting in the driveway that is nothing more than scrap metal because we couldn’t license it or drive it for the last four years. So the ETR has still cost us thousands….

  13. Jenn says:

    Well it was a busy week for the 407 :0)….We received an email on Friday from Scarfone Hawkins LLP advising us that now that the Supreme Court decision was down they would be moving forward with their class action suit. Can anyone tell me what that might for those of us that have included our names on this claim? Punitive damages maybe? Thanks….

    • Tammy Flores says:

      They will let you know exactly the claims soon! I guess the company was too difficult to deal with even with the Supreme Court decision. You would think they would be more cooperative. Stay tuned!

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  15. […] Supreme Court of Canada Rules 407 ETR … – Today is a great day for consumers! In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed 407 ETR’s appeal to continue collecting on discharged … […]

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