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Unclaimed Intangible Property in Canada – Recent Developments

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Ah, unclaimed intangible property. The route to uniform legislation is far from a straight line and progress is slow.

In May, Prince Edward Island repealed provisions of the Public Trustee Act, which governed unclaimed intangible property in the province. The provisions of Part IV of the Public Trustee Act do not appear to have been followed (or enforced) in any event.

Meanwhile, in Ontario, the Ministry of the Attorney General continues to press forward with a consultation regarding the enactment of new unclaimed property legislation (the previous unproclaimed legislation having been automatically repealed on January 1, 2013).

The results of the first stage of Ontario’s consultation have been posted. Among the points raised thus far in the consultation are:

  • Retrospectivity. Consumers want the application of unclaimed property legislation to be retrospective. In contrast, businesses are concerned about the compliance burden of retrospective legislation.
  • Gift Cards. Organizations in the gift card and prepaid payment card businesses recommended that they be excluded from the proposed legislation. They argued that the complexity of gift cards and prepaid payment cards made them inappropriate for inclusion in unclaimed property legislation. For example: these cards may include values as a result of loyalty programs or discounts; they may be purchased without providing information about the identity of the owner; and they are already regulated by consumer protection and banking regulations.
  • Beneficiaries of Unclaimed Property. Municipalities and non-profit groups apparently each believe that they should be the beneficiaries of unclaimed funds.

The submission deadline for comments on the Ontario proposal has been extended to September 18, 2013.