Ontario Court of Appeal Rules Husband Found Not Criminally Responsible for Wife’s Death Entitled to Life Insurance Proceeds

April 25, 2012 | Amelia M. Leckey

A husband and wife separated in 1992. In 1998 the husband took out a life insurance policy on his wife. In 2006 he killed his wife. He was charged with second degree murder. At trial was found not criminally responsible.

The life insurer paid the monies into court. The son of the deceased brought an application seeking payment of the life insurance proceeds to the estate of the deceased. The applications judge held that, for public policy reasons, the husband was not entitled to payment of the monies. She found that the physical act of killing his wife disentitled the husband to the insurance proceeds.

In its April 24, 2012 decision the Ontario Court of Appeal reviewed the Canadian caselaw regarding the public policy rule that prevents a criminal from profiting from his crime. The Court held that, where there is a finding that a person was not criminally responsible for their actions, they will not be prevented from receiving the proceeds of a life insurance policy. More specifically, the Court held that a person who is not held legally responsible for an alleged wrong-doing is not to be punished for that wrong-doing.

However, in an interesting twist, the Court stayed the Order for payment to the husband for a period of 30 days. The stay was imposed to allow the Attorney General to consider whether he wanted to apply to have the monies forfeited under the Civil Remedies Act. Under the Act monies acquired directly or indirectly as a result of unlawful activity can be forfeited. The Act contemplates that a finding a person is not criminally responsible of an offence would still allow for forfeiture. Forfeiture would result in the monies flowing to the Crown, not the beneficiaries of the deceased.

Dhingra v. Dhingra 2012 ONCA 261, CanLii

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