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Supreme Court of Canada refuses to hear Hells Angels appeal of B.C. forfeiture ruling

OTTAWA — A nearly two decade-long court battle over the fate of three Hells Angels clubhouses in British Columbia has likely been ended by the Supreme Court of Canada’s refusal to hear an appeal from the biker club.

Members of Hells Angels’ chapters in Nanaimo, Vancouver and Kelowna wanted to fight a B.C. Court of Appeal decision that stripped them of ownership of the clubhouses, and overturned a lower-court ruling in favour of the biker gang.

B.C.’s high court found the original trial judge was wrong to reject a claim under the province’s Civil Forfeiture Act and find “no evidence” that the three Hells Angels’ clubhouses were used for the planning or commission of crimes.

The unanimous ruling issued earlier this year made what it said was the “inescapable” inference that the clubhouses would continue to be used for criminal activity because chapter members had “committed serious crimes” in the past and relied on their clubhouses as a “safe space” to plan or commit criminal acts. 

Lawyers for the Hells Angels appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada on grounds including that B.C. had overstepped its powers in allowing certain civil forfeitures, and that the appeal court had “caused unfairness” by “reframing” and “reinterpreting” the case against the organization. 

As is customary in its rulings on leave applications, the Supreme Court of Canada has not provided reasons for its dismissal of the case.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 12, 2023.

The Canadian Press