BC Case Comment – UPDATE: Plaintiff not a “Spouse” Entitled to Share of Estate – Denied Leave to Appeal to Supreme Court of Canada

I previously wrote about the B.C. Court of Appeal decision of Mother 1 v. Solus Trust Company Limited 2021 BCCA  461, in which “Mother 1” asked the Court of Appeal to overturn a decision by the B.C. Supreme Court that she was not a “spouse” of the deceased.  My post on the B.C. Court of Appeal decision can be found here.

The deceased died in 2015 without a will. His Canadian estate was estimated to be worth up to $21 million.  The B.C. Supreme Court held that Mother 1 was not a spouse, and so she was not entitled to a share of the deceased’s estate on an intestacy.  The B.C. Court of Appeal dismissed her appeal, concluding that the parties were never in a marriage-like relationship.

Mother 1 sought leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

A party who is unsuccessful in the Court of Appeal does not have an automatic right to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.  The Supreme Court of Canada must agree to hear the appeal (it must grant leave).  The mandate of the Supreme Court of Canada is to deal with issues of law that are of public importance or of such a nature or significance as to warrant a decision from the Court.  They do not simply hear cases because one side believes that the Court of Appeal was wrong – there must be some national importance.

The Supreme Court of Canada recently dismissed Mother 1’s application for leave, which means that Mother 1 has exhausted her avenues of appeal with respect to this claim.  As is their usual practice, the Supreme Court of Canada did not give reasons for the dismissal.

Due to the salacious circumstances surrounding the death of the deceased, this decision to deny leave (and previous decisions in the case) resulted in some media attention, for example: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/supreme-court-murdered-multimillionaire-spouse-decision-1.6541276