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Title: A Famous Case Revisited
Authors: Bowal, Peter
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: Legal Resource Centre of Alberta Ltd. (LRC)
Citation: Bowal, Peter, "A Famous Case Revisited", Law Now, Jan/Feb 2009, Vol. 33, Iss. 3; p. 1.
Abstract: Rosa Becker and Lothar Pettkus, two immigrants to Canada, met in 1955. They moved in together and lived as husband and wife, although they did not marry, and they had no children. Until 1960, Becker paid the rent and living expenses from her outside income and Pettkus deposited his income in a bank account in his name. In 1961, they bought a farm in Quebec. The money came from Pettkus' account and ownership ("title") was taken out in his name, as was the custom in those days. Since Rosa Becker had contributed work and money in the reasonable expectation of receiving an interest in the property, a majority of judges in the Supreme Court of Canada found a constructive trust on the basis of this common law relationship. Three requirements must be satisfied: there must be an enrichment, a corresponding deprivation, and absence of any good legal reason for the enrichment. The Court ruled that all three requirements were met in this case. Becker conferred benefits on Pettkus and never received anything in return from the land and business. It determined that the contribution of money and labour by Ms. Becker to the beehive business allowed Mr. Pettkus to acquire the property that he held in his name. In the fall of 1984, Becker tried to have the beehives seized and sold to recover the money. Pettkus appealed the seizure and he quit feeding the bees. Becker applied for a court order requiring him to feed the bees. By that time, most of the bees were dead. In the fall of 1984, the two Ontario properties were sold for $69,000.00. All of this money that was to go to Becker was intercepted by Becker's lawyers to pay for a decade of legal fees. Rosa Becker had been victorious in the courts, but it was a frustrating, costly and futile victory using the Canadian law and legal system. Such claims require considerable time and expense to pursue in the court system. Collecting a judgment can be a long and difficult experience. She had nothing to show for it in the end. At age 60, without collecting a cent from her win, she was working as a livein housekeeper for a dairy farmer in exchange for room and board plus $60 per week wages.
ISSN: 0841-2626
Appears in Collections:Bowal, Peter

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