1998/99 Legislative Session: 3rd Session, 36th Parliament
FIRST READING


The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.


HONOURABLE JOY K. MacPHAIL
MINISTER OF FINANCE AND CORPORATE RELATIONS


BILL 91 -- 1999

UNCLAIMED PROPERTY ACT

 
Contents

Section
Part 1 -- Interpretation
1   Definitions

Part 2 -- Unclaimed Money Held by Government
2   Unclaimed money held by government
3   Duty of minister to make reasonable efforts to locate and notify owners
4   Unclaimed money database
5   Payment of claims
6   Access to information and retention of records
7   Special account

Part 3 -- Unclaimed Property Held by Holders
8   Application of this Part
9   Duty of holders to make reasonable efforts to locate and notify owners
10   When property becomes unclaimed
11   Duties of holders of unclaimed property
12   Voluntary transfer of unclaimed property to the minister
13   After time lapse unclaimed property may be treated as income of holder
14   Joint holders
15   Minister may request information
16   Offences

Part 4 -- General
17   Power to make regulations
18   Review of Act
19-31   Consequential Amendments
32   Repeal
33   Commencement

HER MAJESTY, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia, enacts as follows:

 
Part 1 -- Interpretation

Definitions

1 In this Act:

"holder" means

(a) a corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, association, society, fraternal or mutual benefit organization or other entity, whether or not operated for profit, that holds property on behalf of an owner, or

(b) an individual who holds property on behalf of an owner and who is one of a prescribed class of individuals,

and includes a government body as defined in the Financial Administration Act, but does not include the government or the Public Trustee;

"owner" means,

(a) in relation to money to which Part 2 applies, a person who has a legal or equitable interest in all or part of the money,

(b) in relation to property to which Part 3 applies, other than a money order or similar instrument, a person who has a legal or equitable interest in all or part of the property, and

(c) in relation to a money order or similar instrument to which Part 3 applies, the purchaser of the instrument;

"property" means

(a) money received as a deposit, other than by a savings institution, but only if there is a right to receive a cash refund of the deposit,

(b) an amount paid in respect of a money order or similar instrument, other than a similar instrument issued by a bank or by a company to which the Trust and Loan Companies Act (Canada) applies,

(c) securities and their entitlements and money deposited to make a distribution,

(d) the right to an amount due and payable by an insurer under the terms of an insurance policy, including an annuity and a refund of premiums,

(e) the right to receive an amount distributable from a trust or custodial fund established under

(i) a plan to provide education, health, welfare, vacation, severance, retirement or death benefits,

(ii) a share purchase, profit sharing, employee savings or supplemental employment insurance plan, or

(iii) a similar benefit plan,

(f) the right to an amount distributable under a trust or fiduciary arrangement of any kind not referred to in paragraph (e),

(g) the right to a refund of an amount paid in respect of an unused airline ticket or other transportation ticket, or

(h) any other personal property that is not a chattel or a mortgage and is designated by regulation for the purposes of this definition,

but does not include money held by the government or property held in trust by a member of the Law Society of British Columbia;

"public body" has the same meaning as in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act;

"security" has the same meaning as in the Interpretation Act and includes equity shares in a credit union, but only if those shares are listed or posted on an exchange recognized by the British Columbia Securities Commission;

"special account" means the Unclaimed Property Special Account established under section 7;

"unclaimed money deposit" means money that

(a) has become an unclaimed money deposit under section 2,

(b) has been transferred to the minister under section 12, or

(c) has been deemed under the Unclaimed Money Act, R.S.B.C 1996, c. 467, or under any other enactment to be an unclaimed money deposit;

"unclaimed property" means property that has become unclaimed under section 10.

 
Part 2 -- Unclaimed Money Held by Government

Unclaimed money held by government

2 (1) All money that is held by the government on behalf of an owner becomes an unclaimed money deposit if the owner does not claim the money within the applicable period prescribed for the purposes of this section.

(2) If subsection (1) is inconsistent or in conflict with a provision of another enactment, the provision of the other enactment prevails.

Duty of minister to make reasonable efforts to locate and notify owners

3 If the amount of an unclaimed money deposit meets or exceeds the amount prescribed for the purposes of this section, the minister must make reasonable efforts to locate the owner and to notify the owner about the money.

Unclaimed money database

4 The minister must

(a) maintain an electronic or other database of all unclaimed money deposits,

(b) include in the electronic or other database the prescribed particulars for each unclaimed money deposit, and

(c) make the electronic or other database available to the public, subject to any restrictions imposed by regulation for the purpose of protecting the privacy of owners.

Payment of claims

5 (1) If satisfied that a person is the owner of all or part of the money that became an unclaimed money deposit, the minister must pay out of the special account to the owner an amount equal to that deposit or that part of the deposit, as the case may be.

(2) No interest or other earning accrues or is payable to an owner in respect of the period after money becomes an unclaimed money deposit.

(3) A payment made under this section to an owner discharges the government from liability to the owner in respect of the money that became the unclaimed money deposit, but only to the extent of the payment.

(4) The minister may delegate any of the minister's functions under this section to an employee of the ministry.

Access to information and retention of records

6 (1) The minister has the right to any information that

(a) is in the custody or control of a public body, and

(b) may assist in locating a person for the purposes of this Act.

(2) A public body that has custody or control of information to which the minister is entitled under subsection (1) must disclose that information to the minister on request.

(3) A public body must meet the standards, set by regulation, respecting

(a) the collection and recording of information concerning any money that becomes an unclaimed money deposit, and

(b) the retention of records containing that information.

Special account

7 (1) An account, called the Unclaimed Property Special Account, is established as a special account of the consolidated revenue fund.

(2) The special account consists of

(a) an opening balance of a prescribed amount, and

(b) money paid into the account under subsections (3) and (6).

(3) The following must be paid into the special account:

(a) all money that, after the coming into force of this section, becomes or is deemed to be an unclaimed money deposit;

(b) all money transferred to the minister under section 12 and all fees paid under that section.

(4) In addition to money paid out under section 5, all costs associated with the administration of this Act and the regulations may be paid out of the special account.

(5) At the beginning of each fiscal year of the government, the balance in the special account equals the prescribed amount of the opening balance.

(6) If, at any time, the amount in the special account is insufficient to meet the payments to be made under this section, the minister may increase the amount in the special account to a sum that, in the minister's opinion, is sufficient to allow those payments to be made.

 
Part 3 -- Unclaimed Property Held by Holders

Application of this Part

8 This Part applies to a holder of property

(a) if, according to the holder's records, the last known address of the owner is in British Columbia and the transaction from which the property arose was entered into or arranged after the coming into force of this section, or

(b) if the owner's address is unknown and the transaction from which the property arose was entered into or arranged in British Columbia after the coming into force of this section.

Duty of holders to make reasonable efforts to locate and notify owners

9 (1) A holder of property must make reasonable efforts to locate the owner and to notify the owner about the property if

(a) the prescribed circumstances exist, and

(b) on the applicable date prescribed by regulation, the value of the property meets or exceeds the prescribed amount.

(2) The reasonable efforts required under subsection (1) must be made within 6 months after the applicable date referred to in subsection (1) of this section.

When property becomes unclaimed

10 (1) If, despite the holder's reasonable efforts, the owner is not located and notified within 12 months after the applicable date referred to in section 9 (1) (b), the property becomes unclaimed.

(2) If the prescribed circumstances exist but the value of property held by a holder does not on the applicable date prescribed by regulation meet or exceed the prescribed amount, the property becomes unclaimed on that date.

Duties of holders of unclaimed property

11 A holder of unclaimed property must do all of the following:

(a) maintain an electronic or other database of all unclaimed property held by the holder;

(b) include in the electronic or other database the prescribed particulars for each item of unclaimed property;

(c) make the electronic or other database available to the public, subject to any restrictions imposed by regulation for the purpose of protecting the privacy of owners;

(d) meet the standards, set by regulation, respecting

(i) the collection and recording of information concerning the unclaimed property, and

(ii) the retention of records containing that information;

(e) meet the standards, set by regulation, respecting

(i) the processing of claims, and

(ii) the management or control of the unclaimed property.

Voluntary transfer of unclaimed property to the minister

12 (1) A holder may transfer unclaimed property to the minister if the following conditions are met:

(a) that property is money;

(b) the holder provides the minister with any information relating to the property that may reasonably be requested by the minister;

(c) the minister consents to the transfer.

(2) The minister's receipt for unclaimed property transferred by a holder under subsection (1) is an effective discharge to the holder for that property.

After time lapse unclaimed property may be treated as income of holder

13 Without limiting the owner's rights, the holder may treat unclaimed property as income of the holder if

(a) that property is money,

(b) the property is not claimed by the owner within the prescribed time period after the date on which under section 10 it became unclaimed property, and

(c) the holder is not prohibited by law from treating the property as income.

Joint holders

14 If property is held jointly by 2 or more holders,

(a) the performance, in relation to the property, by any one of them of a duty imposed under this Act on a holder suffices for all of them, and

(b) the exercise, in relation to the property, by any one of them of an option given under this Act to a holder binds all of them.

Minister may request information

15 (1) For the purposes of this Act, the minister may request a holder of property to do either or both of the following in respect of the property:

(a) submit to the minister records in the holder's custody or control;

(b) provide information to the minister, within the time or at the intervals specified in the request.

(2) A holder who receives a request under subsection (1) must comply with the request.

Offences

16 (1) A holder who does any of the following commits an offence:

(a) contravenes section 9 or 15 (2);

(b) fails to maintain a record required under this Act or the regulations;

(c) in a record required or submitted, or in information provided, under this Act or the regulations, makes a statement that

(i) is false or misleading with respect to a material particular, or

(ii) omits to state a material fact, the omission of which makes the statement false or misleading.

(2) A person is not guilty of an offence under subsection (1) (c) if the person did not know that the statement was false or misleading and, with the exercise of reasonable diligence, could not have known that the statement was false or misleading.

(3) If a corporation commits an offence under this section, an employee, officer, director or agent of the corporation who authorizes, permits or acquiesces in the commission of the offence commits an offence.

(4) Subsection (3) applies whether or not the corporation is prosecuted for the offence.

(5) Section 5 of the Offence Act does not apply to this Act or the regulations.

 
Part 4 -- General

Power to make regulations

17 (1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations referred to in section 41 of the Interpretation Act.

(2) Without limiting subsection (1), the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations as follows:

(a) prescribing classes of individuals for the purposes of paragraph (b) of the definition of "holder" in section 1;

(b) designating personal property, other than a chattel or a mortgage, for the purposes of paragraph (h) of the definition of "property" in section 1;

(c) prescribing time periods for the purposes of sections 2 (1) and 13 (b);

(d) prescribing amounts for the purposes of sections 3, 7 (2) (a) and 9 (1) (b);

(e) governing rules for determining if an amount constitutes one or more unclaimed money deposits for the purpose of section 3 and for determining what constitutes one item of property for the purpose of section 9;

(f) prescribing the particulars that, under sections 4 (b) and 11 (b), are to be included in databases, and governing restrictions on access to those databases for the purpose of protecting the privacy of owners;

(g) governing the standards to be met under section 6 (3) by public bodies and under section 11 (d) by holders of unclaimed property;

(h) exempting classes of holders from the application of any or all of the provisions of Part 3 and the regulations, and specifying the conditions of exemption;

(i) prescribing circumstances and dates for the purposes of sections 9 and 10;

(j) defining for the purposes of section 9 what constitutes reasonable efforts to locate and notify owners, and requiring holders to establish and make available to the public written policies, procedures and performance goals with respect to those efforts;

(k) requiring holders to make information respecting unclaimed property available to the public;

(l) authorizing holders to transfer to the minister any of their duties under section 11 (c) respecting the unclaimed property database and specifying the conditions and effect of the transfer;

(m) governing the standards to be met under section 11 (e) by holders of unclaimed property;

(n) prescribing fees payable to the minister in respect of transfers of unclaimed property under section 12 (1);

(o) limiting the types and amount of fees that holders of unclaimed property may charge for locating and notifying owners and for processing claims;

(p) defining any word or expression used but not defined in this Act.

(3) A regulation under this Act may provide differently for different

(a) classes of money deposits or unclaimed money deposits,

(b) classes of property or unclaimed property, or

(c) holders or classes of holders.

Review of Act

18 After January 1 and before July 1 of the fifth year following the year in which this section comes into force, the minister must appoint a committee to review the effectiveness of this Act and the regulations.

 
Consequential Amendments

 
Company Act

19 Section 105 of the Company Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 62, is repealed.

20 Section 294 (2) is amended by striking out everything after "unclaimed money deposits" and substituting "under the Unclaimed Property Act."

 
Credit Union Incorporation Act

21 Section 35 (4) of the Credit Union Incorporation Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 82, is amended by striking out everything after "unclaimed money deposits" and substituting "under the Unclaimed Property Act".

 

Debt Collection Act

22 Section 12 (1) (b) (ii) of the Debt Collection Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 92, is amended by striking out "under the Unclaimed Money Act;" and substituting "under the Unclaimed Property Act".

 

Employment Standards Act

23 Section 19 of the Employment Standards Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 113, is amended by adding the following subsections:

(4) If the director cannot locate an employee within one year after receiving the employee's wages under this section, the director must transfer the wages to the Minister of Finance and Corporate Relations in accordance with the transfer schedule set by that minister.

(5) Money transferred to the Minister of Finance and Corporate Relations under subsection (4) is deemed to be an unclaimed money deposit under the Unclaimed Property Act.

 

Financial Institutions Act

24 Section 37 (4) of the Financial Institutions Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 141, is amended by striking out "must be treated as unclaimed money deposits under the Unclaimed Money Act" and substituting "is deemed to be unclaimed money deposits under the Unclaimed Property Act".

25 Section 85 (5) is repealed and the following substituted:

(5) Money paid to the Minister of Finance and Corporate Relations under subsection (4) is deemed to be an unclaimed money deposit under the Unclaimed Property Act.

 
Insurance Act

26 Section 71 of the Insurance Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 226, is repealed and the following substituted:

Payment into court

71 (1) If an insurer admits liability for insurance money and it appears to the insurer that

(a) there are adverse claimants,

(b) there is no person who is capable of giving and authorized to give a valid discharge for the insurance money and who is willing to do so, or

(c) the insurance money has become unclaimed property under the Unclaimed Property Act,

the insurer may, without notice to any person but subject to subsection (2), apply to the court for an order for payment of the money into court.

(2) An application to the court under this section may not be made until

(a) in a case to which subsection (1) (a) or (b) applies, 30 days from the date of the happening of the event on which the insurance money became payable, or

(b) in a case to which subsection (1) (c) applies, 30 days after the insurance money became unclaimed property under the Unclaimed Property Act.

(3) On application under this section, the court may, on notice, if any, as it thinks necessary, make an order for payment of the insurance money into court.

(4) On payment into court of insurance money referred to in subsection (1) (c), Part 3 of the Unclaimed Property Act ceases to apply to that money.

(5) A payment made under an order under this section discharges the insurer to the extent of the payment.

27 Section 110 is amended

(a) by repealing subsection (1) and substituting the following subsections:

(1) If an insurer admits liability for insurance money or any part of it and it appears to the insurer that

(a) there are adverse claimants,

(b) there is no person who is capable of giving and authorized to give a valid discharge for the insurance money and who is willing to do so, or

(c) the insurance money has become unclaimed property under the Unclaimed Property Act,

the insurer may, without notice to any person, apply to the court for an order for payment of the money into court.

(1.1) On application under this section, the court may, on notice, if any, as it thinks necessary, make an order for payment of the insurance money into court.

(1.2) On payment into court of insurance money referred to in subsection (1) (c), Part 3 of the Unclaimed Property Act ceases to apply to that money. , and

(b) in subsections (2) and (3) by striking out "under subsection (1)" and substituting "under this section".

 
Legal Profession Act

28 Section 34 of the Legal Profession Act, S.B.C. 1998, c. 9, is amended

(a) by repealing subsections (7) and (8) and substituting the following:

(7) If the money is not paid out under subsection (6) within 5 years after its receipt by the society under subsection (1), the society must pay the money, excluding any interest retained under subsection (4), to the foundation for its purposes, but subsections (5) and (6) continue to apply as though the money had not been paid to the foundation.

(8) The foundation must indemnify the society for any claims paid under subsection (6) in respect of money received from the society under subsection (7), including interest paid by the society under subsection (6) for the period when the money was held by the foundation. , and

(b) by repealing subsection (12).

 
Municipal Act

29 Section 416 (6) of the Municipal Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 323, is repealed and the following substituted:

(6) If the surplus remains unclaimed 3 months after publication under subsection (5), it must be transferred to the Minister of Finance and Corporate Relations.

(7) Money transferred under subsection (6) is deemed to be an unclaimed money deposit under the Unclaimed Property Act.

 
Railway Act

30 Section 232 of the Railway Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 395, is repealed and the following substituted:

Deposit of unclaimed money

232 (1) The company must transfer the following to the Minister of Finance and Corporate Relations on the expiry of the applicable period:

(a) any surplus of the proceeds of a sale under section 230 (3) that is not claimed within the 3 month period after the date of the sale;

(b) the balance of the proceeds of a sale under section 231 (1) that is not claimed within the 3 month period referred to in section 231 (2).

(2) Money transferred to the Minister of Finance and Corporate Relations under subsection (1) is deemed to be an unclaimed money deposit under the Unclaimed Property Act.

 
Real Estate Act

31 Section 17.2 of the Real Estate Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 397, is repealed and the following substituted:

Unclaimed money in a trust account

17.2 (1) An agent may transfer to the Minister of Finance and Corporate Relations money in a trust account maintained by the agent, if

(a) the money has been unclaimed for one year or more,

(b) the identity of the person entitled to claim the money is known and is not in dispute, and

(c) the agent has made reasonable efforts to locate the person entitled to claim the money and to notify that person about claiming the money, but, despite those efforts, the money has not been claimed.

(2) Money transferred to the Minister of Finance and Corporate Relations under subsection (1) is deemed to be an unclaimed money deposit under the Unclaimed Property Act.

Repeal

32 The Unclaimed Money Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 467, is repealed.

Commencement

33 This Act comes into force by regulation of the Lieutenant Governor in Council.

 
Explanatory Note

The purpose of this Bill is to repeal the Unclaimed Money Act and replace it with a new Act which seeks to protect the rights of owners to be informed of any unclaimed money held by the government, and of any unclaimed financial property held by other organizations, on behalf of owners. The object is to reunite the owners with their money or financial property.


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