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Ontario Court Enforces American Judgments Against Iran

Under the State Immunity Act, foreign states are generally immune from being sued in Canada.  This includes being sued on a foreign judgment.  However, in 2012 Canada enacted legislation to give victims of terrorism the ability to sue a foreign state that sponsored the terrorism.  It also made it easier for foreign judgments against such a state to be enforced in Canada.

In Tracy v The Iranian Ministry of Information and Security, 2016 ONSC 3759 (released June 9, 2016; likely to be posted in the week of June 13, 2016, in CanLII) the Ontario Superior Court of Justice had to consider these legislative reforms and how they applied to a series of American judgments rendered against Iran in favour of American victims of terrorist acts which Iran was found to have sponsored.  The court held that Iran was not immune from the enforcement proceedings and that accordingly the American judgments were enforceable against certain assets of Iran in Ontario.

Canadian Case on State Immunity

In Kazemi (Estate of) v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 2011 QCCS 196 (available here) the estate of Zahra Kazemi and her son, Stephan Kazemi, sued Iran and certain state officials in Quebec, alleging that in 2003 Ms. Kazemi was tortured and assassinated in Iran.  The defendants argued that the claim could not succeed due to state immunity. 

Much of the court’s analysis involves the provisions of the State Immunity Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. S-18.  The court has to consider whether this statute is a complete code on the issue of state immunity or whether it is open to courts to create exceptions to the statutory immunity beyond those listed in the statute.  The court also has to address whether aspects of the statute are constitutional. 

Quebec Court Stays Palestinian Claim Against West Bank Builders

Things have certainly been quiet on the Canadian front over the past few months.  Ending the lull, in a decision filled with different conflict of laws issues, the Quebec Superior Court held, in Bil’In Village Council and Yassin v. Green Park International Inc. (available here), that Israel is the most appropriate forum for the dispute and therefore it stayed the proceedings in Quebec.

The plaintiffs, resident in the occupied West Bank, sued two corporations incorporated in Quebec for their involvement in building housing for Israelis in the West Bank.  The plaintiffs alleged violation of several international law principles.