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Overview Of Government Liens, Charges, And Administrative Penalties

In This Volume

Federal, provincial, and local governments, and their departments and agencies, have a variety of powers to register liens or charges against land. Charges may be filed under s. 204 of the Land Title Act and are registered as a Crown debt. In some instances, the statutes create a lien and charge in favour of the government, which may be registered as a Crown lien. In other instances, the statutes provide for the issuance of a certificate which may be registered in court. Once registered, the certificate has the same effect as a judgment of the court.

Crown Liens, General

Where an applicant applies to register a Crown lien authorized by specific legislation, the applicant must apply in Form 17 and must make reference to the specific legislation in the application.

Electronic Submissions, Judgments

Where a statute provides for the issuance of a certificate that may be registered in court, the Certificate of Judgment is in the class of supporting documents designated by the director for electronic filing.

On the Form 17 Charge, Notation or Filing, select Nature of Interest, Judgment, and attach an image of the original Certificate of Judgment.

This chapter provides a summary of relevant provisions under many of these Acts. Where more extensive coverage of a particular Act is included elsewhere in the Manual, a cross reference to the relevant chapter is provided here.

Readers of the Manual are reminded that the material in this chapter is provided for convenience only and it is not exhaustive. Readers should examine original sources of legislation to determine the nature and effect of government liens, charges and certificates.


Exceptions to Indefeasibility

Section 23(2) of the Land Title Act provides, in part, that:

  • 23 (2) An indefeasible title, as long as it remains in force and uncancelled, is conclusive evidence at law and in equity, as against the Crown and all other persons, that the person named in the title as registered owner is indefeasibly entitled to an estate in fee simple to the land described in the indefeasible title, subject to the following:
  • ...
  • (b) a federal or Provincial tax, rate or assessment at the date of the application for registration imposed or made a lien or that may after that date be imposed or made a lien on the land;
  • (c) a municipal charge, rate or assessment at the date of the application for registration imposed or that may after that date be imposed on the land, or which had before that date been imposed for local improvements or otherwise and that was not then due and payable, including a charge, rate or assessment imposed by a public body having taxing powers over an area in which the land is located.

Registration of Crown Debt as Charge

See s. 204 of the Land Title Act, which provides:

  • 204 There may be registered in the same manner as a charge is registered, a debt owing to the government against the land of a debtor to the government, but no debt owing to the government affects land of a debtor to the government unless it is registered.

Cancellation of Crown Judgment on Registration of Trustee in Bankruptcy

See the discussion of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. B-3 in chapter 63 (Trustees, Personal Representatives, and Trustees in Bankruptcy).

Release of Crown Judgment for Effluxion of Time

An owner may be able to apply under s. 246 of the Land Title Act for cancellation of Crown judgments that have expired under s. 91 of the Court Order Enforcement Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 78.

Crown Lien Taking Effect after Registration of Certificate of Pending Litigation in Foreclosure Proceedings or Forced Sale Proceedings

Under s. 30 of the Land Title Act, liens created by judgments in favour of certain Crown bodies, namely the Director of Employment Standards, the Workers’ Compensation Board, or the Labour Relations Board, even when registered after a certificate of pending litigation, may have priority over mortgages and certain other charges and rights registered before the judgment. See s. 87 of the Employment Standards Act, s. 265 of the Workers Compensation Act, R.S.B.C. 2019, c. 1, and s. 135 of the Labour Relations Code, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 244. When one of these Crown liens may have priority over the claim of the holder of a certificate of pending litigation in a foreclosure action or court-ordered sale, and if the lien holder is not joined as a party, such liens will not be released automatically from title. The registrar issues a notice under s. 294.6(e) or 303(e) of the Land Title Act to the applicable Crown body advising it that its lien will be removed from title two weeks after the notification, thus giving the Crown body time to assert its priority. If the applicant has joined the Crown body, the registrar does not send a notice.


See Law Reform Commission of British Columbia, Report on the Crown as Creditor: Priorities and Privileges (Law Reform Commission, 1982), and Hardy, Crown Priority in Insolvency (Carswell, 1986).


This part of the Manual includes, for the statutes canvassed, references to some case law which, while not relevant specifically to land title practice, discusses priority issues concerning the sections cited. For convenience, the citations for these cases are reproduced here.

For cases considering the status of provincial statutory Crown liens where a debtor is involved in bankruptcy proceedings, see, for example: