Waiting for the Supreme Court of Canada to decide on 407 ETR’s Appeal

It has been 10 months since the Supreme Court of Canada heard 407 ETR’s Appeal on the issue of Paramountcy with respects to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. To recap, the Province of Ontario has intervened and said, “the fresh start provided by a discharge in bankruptcy was never intended to wipe away the consequences of the manner in which the bankrupt had participated in a regulated activity” and” provisions in all other provinces’ and territories’ legislation, does not frustrate the fresh start purpose of the BIA because it imposes a licence suspension as a regulatory, rather than merely as a debt-collection measure. ”

You can look at this statement 2 ways. The first is that, 407 ETR’s Plate Denial provision is in fact merely a collection tool for a private corporation. In that case, it would open a whole can of worms for the company that has been willfully ignoring consumer protection legislation. OR you could look at it in the way the company wants, that the provision is a behavior modification. In that case, the company will be completely exonerated for holding people in Plate Denial unless they pay whatever the company claims is owed. The company will be able to claim that being placed in Plate Denial is merely the consequences of a person’s behavior. What is the questionable behavior that threatens public policy? Not paying the tolls, fees and interest the company charges.

Remember, according to the Province, the 2005 decision by the lower courts, gave the company sole discretion over what they can charge. Is it really a public policy, in favor of the public, that is in jeopardy or this private corporation’s bottom line?

Think about it, 407 ETR never has to justify any charges prior to placing someone in Plate Denial. They don’t even have to bill you, the customer. They can bill someone else, but because they sent an invoice, regardless of whether or not you, the customer, actually got it doesn’t matter.

The company can supresses invoices for years and come find you later, whether or not you are their actual customer, and then slam you with thousands of dollars in undocumented amounts.

This private corporation then has a privilege no other private corporation has. They get to shake you down for the money using Plate Denial, ignoring all consumer protection laws. If that doesn’t work, then they go and get judgment against people that are illegal because they were done well after the limitations period should have prevented such action. Because the people effected couldn’t afford a lawyer to properly advocate for them, they got completely screwed over.

Despite their being a legislated process for disputing charges, it’s only ever been used 7 times since the beginning and not one of those cases was successful for the consumer.

If anything, it is the company’s behavior that puts public policy in jeopardy.

It is the hope of the group “Stop the 407 ETR’s Abuse of Power” that the esteemed justices will conclude that a private corporation has no place in regulating Provincial policy, through monetary penalties that can completely destroy a person’s life.

Yes, we are talking about some of the most vulnerable people that will be affected by the Supreme Court’s decision. There have already been stories of people that have committed suicide because this company was relentlessly hounding them for a bill that is questionable was even legitimate. There have been other cases that the company has been able to get judgments against people that put them in a situation that they will never be out from under. They can’t even cover the monthly interest charges the company continues to heap onto them. They will be paying the company forever for charges that are questionable even occurred, all because the company claimed, but never proved, someone drove on their highway. When the company claims that it isn’t viable for them to pursue people in courts according to the Limitations Act, I get very angry because it tips the scales of justice in favor of the company to completely destroy a person’s life.

Let’s remember, the process of Plate Denial is very obscure. The Province has refused to regulate the company’s behavior on how they are to conduct themselves when the company is to blame as to why a person fails to pay a toll.

The Province claims, that regardless of the circumstances surrounding the debt, they have to absolutely, blindly deny a person from renewing their sticker if 407 ETR has requested it.

In essence, this would mean that the Provincial government has sold their executive power to a private corporation. That is illegal. The Province can’t have it both ways. They can’t say on the one hand that they have no control over the questionable business practices of this private corporation and then on the other hand say that the company is merely looking out for public policy because paying your tolls is important to the Province’s objectives. Let me correct that… that is exactly what the Province is saying.

Rant over. Stay tuned. The Supreme Court decision is coming soon.

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26 Responses to “Waiting for the Supreme Court of Canada to decide on 407 ETR’s Appeal”

  1. Jmo13 says:

    Hwy Tammy,
    Honestly, I’m more upset at the length of time the court is taking to make a,decision. What on earth can make them take them this long to decided.. Pure and utter incompetence. These well to do, arrogant, pompous, bone heads of the Canadian justice system should be fired.
    If you can’t make a decision about right and wrong… You’re in the wrong job. Politicians and our municipal and provincial national court systems are a joke. In no other job would you keep your job if it took so long to get something done.

    • Tammy Flores says:

      I view it this way… this is a big deal. I would rather them take their time and get it right rather than them screw up and then we are back at the beginning. It took us 5 years to get here. If they need time, I am OK with that. There is a lot to consider. I really pray they get it right.

  2. Handel says:

    I have been in plate denial since 2005 for a care, then they made up a bill against my motorcycle. Both vehicle have been in a family member’s name since. Further, over the years the bills have changed drastically up and down. Different amounts owing. At one point 17 grand, the only 6 grand, then 10 and so on. I have kept every one of them to prove their practices are extremely unjust. I too need to hear the court’s decision…..

  3. Handel says:

    I also wanted to add that in 2005, I paid the bill owing against the licence renewal of 2400.00 dollars, then the M.O.T. told me I owed another 10 thousand. I went to the 407etr to ask for proof of these charges and they showed me a picture of a car that was not mine. They refused to do anything back then stating that I had to pay. WTF I said hence where I today…..sincerely. H

    • Elizabeth says:

      I emailed the Supreme Court a couple of weeks ago asking when this decision would be out. The response I got was “A decision normally takes 4-6 months”. My response to that was “Thank you for your reply, it has now been 10 months, surely it must be forthcoming soon?” I received no response at all (not surprising). I have no doubt the Supreme Court will rule in favour of the 407ETR. If there is one thing the 407 can do right it’s grease the right palms Supreme Court or not.

      • Tammy Flores says:

        I don’t share your feelings on the matter. Yes, 407 ETR has it’s greasy hands in many government agencies. That is how business is run these days. I have to believe that the Supreme Court will uphold the laws surrounding consumer protection and not favor one private corporation over another, just because it lobby’s the government. This is Canada and I don’t think we are OK with a private corporation being shown special consideration just because it says so.

  4. jessica says:

    Does anyone have an idea how long it will take for the courts to come up with a decision. Is there some sort of time line?

  5. glenn says:

    yeah 407 is robbery getting charged 1400 dollars. been on 407 a dozen times paid a bill for 186 and thought I paid in full now its all interest upto 1400.called 407 and they told me to pay it I told them to go fuck a hat

  6. Ken says:

    Returned my transponder earlier this month but not before my yearly charge went through.
    They actually told me that I had to call my bank and have them reverse the charge.
    I guess I might as well piss that money away.

    • Tammy Flores says:

      That is so ridiculous! I would be a thorn in their side and demand the money back from them. These guys make my blood boil. It’s the little things like this that just adds up.

  7. caroline says:

    i have been trying to settle my account with MJR and the 407 for the past year to no avail. they play one against the other. 407 says mjr can approve a settlement and mjr says no has to be 407. its a joke, all the while interest is accumulating on my account. first they said they will only settle with accounts who have not used to the 407 for a year, its been a year..now they say that is still considered recent use. anyway i filed a proposal back in 2012 and can only HOPE that the courts rule in favor of the consumer so i can laugh at them. and this is ridiculous, its been ten months when are they going ot hand down a ruling??! funny tho i mentioned this to mjr whom i was just speaking to again, they know nothing about this potential ruling. funny lol

    • Tammy Flores says:

      I’d like to know what kind of contract they have with these collection agencies. Usually, when a company sends you to collections, they write off the debt and the collection company paid so many cents on the dollar with the company to see how much they can squeeze from you. However, with the 407, they don’t seem to do that because they have the attitude that they will just leave you in Plate Denial forever on a disputed account.

  8. Mike says:

    Per Lexum:

    OTTAWA – The Supreme Court of Canada announced today that judgment in the following appeals will be delivered at 9:45 a.m. EST on Friday, November 13, 2015. This list is subject to change.

    407 ETR Concession Company Limited v. Superintendent of Bankruptcy (Ont.) (35696)

    We hope to find out today.

  9. Mike says:

    Appeal Dismissed :

    VI. Disposition

    [33] In my view, s. 22(4) of the 407 Act is inoperative to the extent that it conflicts with s. 178(2) of the BIA . The provision cannot be used by ETR to enforce an otherwise discharged provable claim contrary to s. 178(2) of the BIA . In any event, the operation of s. 22(4) frustrates the financial rehabilitation purpose of s. 178(2) . I would dismiss the appeal with costs and answer the constitutional question as follows:

    Is s. 22(4) of the Highway 407 Act, 1998, S.O. 1998, c. 28, constitutionally inoperative under the doctrine of federal legislative paramountcy, having regard to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. B-3 ?

    Answer: Yes, to the extent that it is used to enforce a provable claim that has been discharged pursuant to s. 178(2) of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act .

  10. Tracey says:

    Sorry – not to come across stupid – did we win or not and if so what happens now?

    • TJ says:

      For anyone who has or will claim bankruptcy while they have a plate in denial has won.
      For everyone else this ruling is very limited to just that situation so we are no further ahead.

  11. TJ says:

    As I said to Tammy yesterday the scope of this case was very small and all it did was confirm what the Ontario appeals court said over a year ago.
    Great waste of our tax dollars.
    I hope the judges awards appropriate costs in this action.

    • Tammy Flores says:

      Costs were awarded. Now the Class Action will be certified and everyone that paid money after discharge to get their plates will get their money back! It’s not as limiting as you think. There is still a battle before us buy now we move forward with more certainty.

      • tj says:

        It is limited.

        The class action still will only be for the ppl who were bankrupt.

        please explain how that provides more certainty to everyone else.
        Pls be specific and the legal theory

        • Tammy Flores says:

          I would say it’s opening a door. I will have better analysis later. I can’t speak about strategy. What I can say is this is definitely a step in the right direction.

  12. Tracey says:

    Does this mean that since I filed my bankruptcy in 2007, which included 407 and Im currently in plate denial, I am no longer in plate denial and the 407 will stop bothering me for payment?

  13. TJ says:

    Yes they will have to take you out of denial and the debt was discharged with your bankruptcy.

    That’s assuming they were listed in your bankruptcy.

    • Tammy Flores says:

      Not exactly. Your trustee can add a forgotten debt. Some trustee’s refused to put 407 ETR debt in the claim. Basically if you owed a provable debt, you are free from Plate Denial on discharge.

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