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.


MR. PLANT

 

BILL M 205 -- 1998

THE PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY ACT

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

Definitions

1 In this Act,

"caregiver" means a caregiver as defined in the Child, Family and Community Service Act;

"child" means a person who is under the age of 16 years;

"director" means the director as defined in the Child, Family and Community Service Act;

"owner" includes a person who has the legal right of possession of the property;

"parent" means

(a) in a case where a biological parent, or a person who is the parent of a child within the meaning of the Family Relations Act, is responsible for the care and control of a child, the biological parent of the child or the person who is the parent of the child within the meaning of the Family Relations Act, as the case may be,

(b) in a case where an adoptive parent is responsible for the care and control of a child, the adoptive parent of the child, or

(c) in a case where a court of competent jurisdiction has appointed a person as guardian of the person of a child, the guardian of the child,

but does not include a caregiver or the director, or a person who has been an adoptive parent for less than two years at the time of the act that caused the property loss.

"property loss" means the loss experienced by an owner of property as a result of an act of a child as described in section 3.

Purpose

2 The purpose of this Act is to ensure that parents are held reasonably accountable for the activities of their children in relation to the property of other people.

Parent's liability

3 The parent of a child who deliberately takes, damages or destroys the property of another person is liable for the loss suffered by the owner of the property as a result of the activity of the child, and the owner of the property may commence a civil action under this Act against the parent of the child to recover damages, in an amount not exceeding $5,000, in respect of the owner's loss.

Certificate as proof

4 In an action under this Act, a certificate of disposition under the Young Offenders Act (Canada) purporting to be signed by an officer of the court of record and showing that the child has been found guilty of an offence in respect of the activity that caused the property loss is proof, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that the child was found guilty of an offence under that Act and that the child caused the property loss of the owner.

Small Claims court

5 An action under this Act shall be commenced in accordance with the Small Claims Act.

One award

6 For greater certainty, not more than one award of damages may be made under this Act arising out of the same act of the same child.

Defence; onus on parent; factors to be considered

7 (1) It is a defence to an action under this Act if the parent establishes to the satisfaction of the court that he or she

(a) was exercising reasonable supervision over the child at the time the child engaged in the activity that caused the property loss; and

(b) made reasonable efforts in good faith to prevent or discourage the child from engaging in the kind of activity that caused the property loss.

(2) The onus of establishing a defence under subsection (1) rests with the parent.

(3) In determining whether a parent exercised reasonable supervision over a child or made reasonable efforts to prevent or discourage the child from engaging in the kind of activity that resulted in the property loss, the court may consider

(a) the age of the child;

(b) the prior conduct of the child;

(c) the potential danger of the activity;

(d) the physical or mental capacity of the child;

(e) any psychological or other medical disorders of the child;

(f) whether the danger arising from the child's conduct was reasonably foreseeable by the parent;

(g) whether the parent was responsible for the care and control of the child at the time when the child engaged in the activity that resulted in the property loss;

(h) if the child was temporarily out of the care and control of the parent when the child engaged in the activity that resulted in the property loss, whether the parent made reasonable arrangements for the supervision of the child in the temporary location;

(i) whether the parent has sought to improve his or her parenting skills by attending parenting courses or otherwise;

(j) whether the parent has sought professional assistance for the child designed to discourage activity of the kind that resulted in the property loss; and

(k) any other matter that the court considers relevant to the determination.

Method of payment and security

8 (1) In awarding damages under this Act, the court may order payment of the damages

(a) to be made in full before a fixed date; or

(b) to be made in installments by fixed dates, if the court considers that a lump sum payment is beyond the financial resources of the parent or will otherwise impose an unreasonable financial burden on the parent.

(2) If in the opinion of the court security is necessary, the court may order security to be provided by the parent in any form that the court considers appropriate.

Insurers subrogated

9 An insurer who has paid an amount as compensation to a person in connection with property loss is subrogated to the rights of that person under this Act to the extent of that amount.

Right of action in addition to other rights; restitution may be considered

10 (1) Subject to subsection (2), the right of action and remedies under this Act are in addition to any other right of action or remedy that may be available, but this section is not to be construed as requiring any damages awarded under this Act to be disregarded in assessing damages in any other proceedings arising out of the same activity of the child.

(2) In determining the amount of damages under this Act, the court may consider any amount ordered as restitution under the Young Offenders Act (Canada).

Coming into force

11 This Act comes into force on a date fixed by proclamation.

 
Explanatory Note

The purpose of this Act is to ensure that parents are held reasonably accountable for the activities of their children in relation to the property of other people. The Act imposes civil liability upon parents for damage to property caused by their children up to a maximum of $5,000. Defenses are available to parents who can establish they were exercising reasonable supervision over the child, or made reasonable efforts to prevent or discourage the activity that led to the loss. The Act does not apply to foster parents or the director appointed under the Child, Family and Community Service Act.


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