Hells Angels' legal bills and disbursements topped $3.3 million in 12-year fight against forfeiture of clubhouses

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      In 2020, members of the Hells Angels won a landmark ruling in B.C. Supreme Court.

      It came when Justice Barry Davies struck down a section of the Civil Forfeiture Act, which the province had cited in seizing the bikers' clubhouses in East Vancouver, Nanaimo, and Kelowna.

      The director of civil forfeiture had hoped to take ownership of the properties on the basis that they would be the site of future unlawful activity.

      Davies, however, ruled that the province did not have this power under Canada's constitution.

      But it came at a tremendous legal cost, according to an August 13 B.C. Supreme Court ruling.

      A legal assistant for one of the Hells Angels' lawyers swore an affidavit estimating the bikers' legal bills and disbursements added up to more than $3,338,069.35, including taxes.

      Davies dismissed the director of civil forfeiture's claim that the affidavit was inadmissable because it was based on "hearsay records".

      "I find that in the totality of the circumstances that I have addressed in detail in these reasons, a tariff costs award even as high as $700,000 for costs, applicable taxes and disbursements under Scale C (which will be significantly less when in large part assessed as combined costs after August 5, 2015) would be grossly inadequate when the fees, disbursement and taxes for which the defendants have been billed exceeds $3,300,000," the judge noted.

      As a result, Davies awarded the defendants increased costs on Scale C under the Supreme Court Civil Rules for almost all steps in the two proceedings, including a counterclaim.

      The case lasted 12 years and included two civil-forfeiture proceedings.

      In a separate judicial-review application, the director of civil forfeiture received costs on Scale C and the federal government received costs on Scale B.

      This shorter proceeding resulted from a court petition filed by the Hells Angels. It addressed the director's commencement and conduct of the trial, and took five-and-a-half months, according to a separate ruling by Davies.