Sorochan v. Sorochan, (1986) 69 N.R. 81 (SCC)

JudgeDickson, C.J.C., Beetz, Chouinard, Lamer, Wilson, Le Dain and La Forest, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court of Canada
Case DateJune 26, 1986
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(1986), 69 N.R. 81 (SCC);[1986] RDF 501;[1986] RDI 448;29 DLR (4th) 1;[1986] SCJ No 46 (QL);69 NR 81;[1986] 2 SCR 38;74 AR 67;39 ACWS (2d) 347;[1986] 5 WWR 289;46 Alta LR (2d) 97;2 RFL (3d) 225;23 ETR 143;1986 CanLII 23 (SCC)

Sorochan v. Sorochan (1986), 69 N.R. 81 (SCC)

MLB headnote and full text

[French language version follows English language version]

[La version française vient à la suite de la version anglaise]

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Sorochan v. Sorochan

(No. 19171)

Indexed As: Sorochan v. Sorochan

Supreme Court of Canada

Dickson, C.J.C., Beetz, Chouinard, Lamer, Wilson, Le Dain and La Forest, JJ.

July 31, 1986.

Summary:

A man and woman lived together in a common law relationship for 42 years. They jointly operated a farm. In addition the woman ran the house, cared for the children and worked the farm alone when the man worked as a travelling salesman. Prior to their cohabitation the man owned six quarter sections jointly with his brother. He subsequently acquired sole ownership of three quarter sections. The couples' relationship deteriorated and the woman moved into a senior citizens home. She applied for an interest in the farm.

The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench, in a decision not reported in this series of reports, held that there was a constructive trust and ordered one quarter section transferred to the woman contingent upon her transferring title to her children. The man appealed.

The Alberta Court of Appeal, in a decision reported at (1984), 36 Alta. L.R.(2d) 119, allowed the appeal. The court held that the principal in Becker v. Pettkus was not established and that the woman was "performing all the work of a diligent farm wife". The woman appealed.

The Supreme Court of Canada allowed the appeal. The court held that a constructive trust can be imposed to remedy an unjust enrichment.

Family Law - Topic 688

Husband and wife - Property rights during and after common law marriage or relationship - Constructive trusts - A man and woman lived together common law for 42 years - They jointly operated a farm acquired by the husband prior to their co-habitation - The woman claimed an interest in the farm land pursuant to a constructive trust - The Supreme Court of Canada granted the application - The court stated that to impose a constructive trust there must be a causal connection between the contribution and the asset - The court stated that the contribution does not have to result in acquisition of the property, but can be a contribution to the preservation, maintenance or improvement of the property.

Restitution - Topic 66

Unjust enrichment - General - Conditions precedent - A man and woman lived together common law for 42 years - They had six children - They jointly operated a farm - The woman ran the house and cared for the children - The farm was acquired by the man prior to their co-habitation - The woman applied for an interest in the farm land - The Supreme Court of Canada held that the man was unjustly enriched and that the woman was entitled to an interest in the land - The court stated that to establish unjust enrichment three pre-conditions must be satisfied - There must be (1) an enrichment, (2) a corresponding deprivation and (3) absence of any juristic reason for the enrichment - See paragraphs 7 to 16.

Trusts - Topic 2308

Constructive trusts - General principles - Circumstances when imposed - A man and woman lived together common law for 42 years - They jointly operated a farm acquired by the husband prior to their co-habitation - The woman claimed an interest in the farm land pursuant to a constructive trust - The Supreme Court of Canada granted the application - The court stated that to impose a constructive trust there must be a causal connection between the contribution and the property in question - The court stated that the contribution does not have to result in acquisition of the property but can be a contribution to the preservation, maintenance or improvement of the property - The court also held that there must be a reasonable expectation of obtaining an actual interest in the property and that the longevity of the relationship must be examined - See paragraphs 17 to 33.

Trusts - Topic 2346

Constructive trusts - Basis for imposition - Unjust enrichment - A man and woman lived together common law for 42 years - They had six children - They jointly operated a farm - The woman ran the house and cared for the children - The farm was acquired by man prior to their co-habitation - The woman applied for an interest in the farm land - The Supreme Court of Canada held that the man benefited by the work done by the wife, that the woman expected some interest in the land in return for her long term commitment and that to deny her relief would be unjust.

Cases Noticed:

Becker v. Pettkus, [1980] 2 S.C.R. 834; 34 N.R. 384; 117 D.L.R.(3d) 257, appld. [para. 4].

Rathwell v. Rathwell, [1978] 2 S.C.R. 436; 19 N.R. 91, consd. [para. 7].

Laureat Giguère Inc. v. Cie Immobilière Viger Ltée, [1977] 2 S.C.R. 67; 10 N.R. 277, refd to. [para. 8].

Beaudoin-Daigneault v. Richard, [1984] 1 S.C.R. 2; 51 N.R. 288, reversing on other grounds [1982] C.A. 66, refd to. [para. 8].

Herman v. Smith (1984), 42 R.F.L.(2d) 154, refd to. [para. 11].

Rochon v. Emary (1981), 21 R.F.L.(2d) 366 (B.C.S.C.), affirmed (1982), 32 R.F.L.(2d) 217 (B.C.C.A.), consd. [para. 12].

Murray v. Roty (1983), 41 O.R.(2d) 705 (Ont. C.A.), consd. [para. 13].

Lawrence v. Lindsey (1982), 38 A.R. 462; 28 R.F.L.(2d) 365 (Alta. Q.B.), consd. [para. 20].

Beard v. Beard, [1982] 1 S.C.R. 282; 41 N.R. 105; 35 A.R. 447 (SCC), not appld. [para. 26].

Wilson v. Munro (1983), 32 R.F.L.(2d) 235 (B.C.S.C.), refd to. [para. 31].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Fridman, G.H.L. and James G. McLeod, Restitution (1982), pp. 20-22 [para. 7]; 34-39 [para. 7].

Goff, Sir Robert and Gareth Jones, The Law of Restitution (2nd Ed., 1978), pp. 60-63 [para. 17].

Klippert, George B., Unjust Enrichment (1983), c. 7 [para. 17].

McClean, A.J., "Constructive and Resulting Trusts - Unjust Enrichment in a Common Law Relationship - Pettkus v. Becker" (1981), 16 U.B.C.L. Rev. 155 [paras. 17, 31].

Palmer, George C., Law of Restitution (1978), vol. 1, p. 5 [para. 7].

Waters, D.W.M., Law of Trusts in Canada (2nd Ed. 1984), pp. 378-385 [para. 7]; c. 11 [para. 17].

Counsel:

Margaret R. Odishaw and Terryl J. Rostad, for the appellant;

Damon D. Himsl, for the respondent.

This appeal was heard on June 26, 1986, before Dickson, C.J.C., Beetz, Chouinard, Lamer, Wilson, Le Dain and La Forest, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada. On July 31, 1986, Dickson, C. J.C., delivered the following judgment for the Supreme Court of Canada:

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    ...(Attorney General) et al., [1993] 3 S.C.R. 519; 158 N.R. 1; 34 B.C.A.C. 1; 56 W.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 61]. Sorochan v. Sorochan, [1986] 2 S.C.R. 38; 69 N.R. 81; 74 A.R. 67; [1986] 5 W.W.R. 289; 2 R.F.L.(2d) 225; 46 Alta. L.R.(2d) 97, refd to. [para. Moge v. Moge, [1992] 3 S.C.R. 813; 14 N......
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    ...[1992] 2 S.C.R. 679; 139 N.R. 1, refd to. [para. 81]. Andrews v. Law Society of British Columbia, [1989] 1 S.C.R. 143; 91 N.R. 255; 29 D.L.R.(4th) 1, refd to. [para. R. v. Swain, [1991] 1 S.C.R. 933; 125 N.R. 1; 47 O.A.C. 81, refd to. [paras. 104, 106, 112, 130]. United States v. Carolene P......
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