Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act

The Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act was enacted by section 2 of the Safe Streets and Communities Act, SC 2012, c. 1 (bill C-10).

What does this new Act do?

The Act allows victims of terrorism to sue terrorists and those that support them, including listed foreign states, for loss or damage that occurred as a result of an act of terrorism committed anywhere in the world. It also amends the State Immunity ActRSC 1985, c. S-18, to prevent a listed foreign state from claiming immunity from the jurisdiction of Canadian courts in respect of actions that relate to its support of terrorism.

It allows:

  • victims of terrorism to sue the perpetrators of terrorism and their supporters in a Canadian court, including foreign states listed by the Government. Victims can seek redress for terrorist acts committed anywhere in the world from January 1, 1985 onwards; 
  • victims of terrorism to sue the perpetrators of terrorism and those that support them if the victims are Canadian citizens or permanent residents, or if they can demonstrate a real and substantial connection between their claim and Canada; and 
  • for the suspension of statutory limitation periods. In other words, victims are not penalized if they were incapable of commencing an action within the normal limitation period because of physical, mental or psychological conditions, or when the victims were unable to ascertain the identity of the perpetrator of the act or those that supported them.
Is it in force?

There is no commencement section in the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, and as section 2 is not found in any commencement section of the Safe Streets and Communities Act, the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act came into force upon Royal Assent, March 13, 2012.

Is there any supporting documentation?

The Act made amendments to the State Immunity Act in order to allow the Governor in Council to create a list of states that there are reasonable grounds to believe have supported terrorism after January 1, 1985. As such, the Governor in Council has the authority, upon the recommendation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and in consultation with the Minister of Public Safety, to list foreign states that have supported a terrorist entity named pursuant to the Criminal Code of Canada. By being placed on this list, states lose their immunity from the jurisdiction of Canadian courts in relation to civil suits brought against them in connection with their support of terrorism.

The Order Establishing a List of Foreign State Supporters of Terrorism, SOR/2012-170, as published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, v. 146, No. 20 (available in the Vancouver Courthouse Library), came into force on September 7, 2012. It includes a Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement.

The listing of an entity is a public means of identifying a group or individual as being associated with terrorism. The definition of an entity includes a person, group, trust, partnership or fund, or an unincorporated association or organization. The Anti-Terrorism Act, SC 2001, c. 41, provides measures for the Government of Canada to create a list of entities (terrorist entities listed pursuant to the Criminal Code).

How do I cite it?

You can cite this act as: Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, SC 2012, c. 1, s. 2.

Further reading

Legislative Summary of Bill C-10: 2 Enactment of the Justice For Victims of Terrorism Act and Amendments to the State Immunity Act [Bill C-10, Part 1, Clauses 2–9 (Formerly Bill S-7)]

Updated: March 11, 2013