Click on a topic below to learn more.
This information is not intended to replace legal advice from a lawyer. If you have a legal problem or need legal advice you should speak to a lawyer.
Governments and public bodies collect and keep a great deal of information. Some of that information relates to private individuals, and some relates to broad public issues.
Access to personal health records is dealt with under a separate law called the Personal Health Information Act (PHIA).
Click here for information about PHIA.
Generally, it is in the public interest that people served by these public bodies have access to the information those bodies hold.
However, sometimes the information held by public bodies includes private information that cannot be disclosed without unreasonably invading the privacy of private individuals. The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPOP-pronounced ‘foypop’), and the Municipal Government Act (MGA), attempt to balance the right to access information, and the need to protect the private information of individuals, businesses and some government information.
This informations provides guidance for using FOIPOP and the MGA to access records held by public bodies, and to correct your personal information.
FOIPOP and the MGA only apply to provincial public bodies and municipalities. Different laws apply if you are trying to get records from a federal public body. Click here for information about access to records from a federal body.
The MGA and FOIPOP are laws which give you the ability to apply to access “records” held by ‘public bodies’.
Click here for contact information for public bodies governed by both FOIPOP and the MGA.
Public bodies include:
If you want to access records held by a municipal body (such as a municipality, town, village or police service) you will be using the MGA. If you want to access information from a provincial public body, you will be using FOIPOP. In either case the process is the same, and the fees charged are the same.
FOIPOP and the MGA only apply to provincial public bodies, governments, and municipalities, they do not apply to federal public bodies.
FOIPOP defines records to include anything on which information is recorded or stored. This includes:
The first step is to determine which organization has the records you want to see.
The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia ("OIPC"), also known as the Review Office, has contact information for the various bodies governed by FOIPOP and the MGA on their website. Click here to see that information.
Alternatively, you may contact Nova Scotia’s Information Access and Privacy Services.
Depending on the type of record you are trying to access you may not need to make a formal request. Some public bodies routinely release information, through a “Routine Access” policy (click here to see an example). It is worth contacting the public body directly first to find out if the record you want will be released without requiring a formal request.
However, if you are trying to get records that contain personal information, you will likely have to make a formal request.
Formal FOIPOP requests must be:
You can find pdf and word versions of request forms here. You do not have to use these forms but they may be helpful.
Personal information is info about you, like: your health care history; your financial, criminal or employment history; your family status; another person's opinions about you.
When you make an information request, other than your personal information, you may be required to pay fees in addition to the $5 application fee. You may be required to pay for the cost of:
You do not have to pay any fees to access your personal information.
The table below explains the fees that public bodies may charge for preparing the records you request.
|Type of Record||Application Fee||First 2 hours of work||Photocopying||Per 30 minutes of time spent|
The public body must give you an estimate of the total costs before doing the work. You can ask the public body to waive the fee:
If you think the fee is too high, you have the right to request a review by the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia (IPC), referred to as the "Review Officer" in the Acts. You must request a review within 60 days. Or you could decide to narrow your scope and request fewer records.
Once a public body has received your request they have 30 days to respond. However, this 30 day period may be extended if:
You must be informed if a public body has sought to extend the 30 day time period. If, by the end of 30 days the public body has not informed you of an extension, or responded to your request, you may treat that as a refusal to provide the records and you can request a review by the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia.
Generally there are three types of responses:
If a public body has not released some, or all of the records you requested, it must tell you why in writing.
Yes. FOIPOP provides that certain types of information may not have to be disclosed. For example, you may be refused access to information that:
Also, some types of records are not available under the Act. For example:
FOIPOP also allows you to correct personal information a public body has about you.
FOIPOP allows you to apply to correct your personal information held by a public body. If your correction request is refused the public body must note that in the record. If you are not satisfied, you may request that Nova Scotia's Information and Privacy Commissioner review the refusal.
If you believe the personal information a public body has about you is incorrect you may request that the public body correct it. A simple form to request correction of personal information can be found here. There is no charge for requesting the correction of your personal information.
If a public body refuses to correct your personal information you may apply to the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia (IPC) for a review of the decision. You must request a review of a decision of a public body within 60 days of receiving the decision. The IPC has discretion to extend the 60 day deadline in some situations, so it is best to contact the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner to discuss your situation even if you have missed the review deadline.
If you get a decision from a public body which you do not agree with you may ask the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia (IPC) to review the decision. You can find out more about the Information and Privacy Commissioner here.
You must request a review within 60 days of receiving the decision of the public body. The IPC does have discretion to extend the 60 day deadline in some situations, so it is best to contact the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner to discuss your situation even if you have missed the review deadline.
You may request that the IPC review:
To request a review you must inform the IPC of your request. You can either use a form or write a letter. Be sure to include:
You may also appeal the decision of a public body to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. However, you must do so within 30 days of receiving the decision. Appealing to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia is more complicated. You may need to pay court fees and other costs and other factors may need to be considered. It is a good idea to consult a lawyer if you wish to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, also known as the Review Office:
Phone: (902) 424-4684
No Charge-Dial: 1-866-243-1564
The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia also has a "Mini-Guide to Access under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act in Nova Scotia", which is available online at: foipop.ns.ca/publictools
Nova Scotia Information Access & Privacy Services (IAP):
Department of Internal Services
PO Box 72, Halifax Central, B3J 2L4
11th. floor, Royal Centre
5161 George Street
Halifax, NS B3J 1M7
Phone: (902) 424-2985 or 844-424-2985
Last updated: December 2016
This information is not intended to replace legal advice from a lawyer. If you have a legal problem or need legal advice you should speak to a lawyer.
Nova Scotia's Personal Health Information Act (PHIA) sets out rules to protect the privacy of personal health information, and for the collection, use, disclosure, retention and destruction of personal health information.
Click here for information about PHIA from Nova Scotia's Department of Health & Wellness, or call their Privacy & Access Office at:
PHIA also sets out rules about your right to:
The law aims to balance your privacy rights with the needs of health care providers to share information to provide health care.
Under PHIA personal health information means information that identifies you and is about:
No. The rules under the PHIA apply to your personal health information regardless of how the information is recorded or stored. Also, PHIA continues to apply to your personal health information even after your death.
PHIA allows you to apply to certain designated “custodians” for access to your personal health information. Custodians are people or organizations who have custody or control of personal health information because they provide health care, or support the provision of health care.
PHIA does not apply to others who may have your health information for reasons unrelated to providing health care to you, such as your employer or an insurance company.
You can make a formal request to examine or have a copy made of a record relating to your personal health information that a custodian has.
A formal request must be
You do not have to tell the custodian why you want to see the record. If your request is not specific enough the custodian must offer you help to revise your request.
The custodian may waive the requirement for a written request if you have limited ability to read or write, or if you have a disability or condition that impairs your ability to make a written request.
Custodians may charge a general fee of up to $30.00 for the initial processing of a formal request.
A custodian may charge up to $30.00 for processing a formal request, and may charge extra for photocopying and other tasks.
If you do not agree with the fee estimate you can request that Nova Scotia’s Information and Privacy Commissioner review the fees.
The custodian may charge additional fees for photocopying and other tasks. The fees are set out in the regulations of PHIA which can be found here. Custodians must give you an estimate of the fees to be charged before doing the work.
All or part of the fee may be waived if you can’t afford to pay it, or if there is another good reason why it would be unfair for you to have to pay it.
If you do not agree with a fee estimate, first talk with the custodian to see if they will reduce or waive the fee. If you still can’t resolve it, you can contact Nova Scotia’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, also known as the Review Officer, to request a review. You will find more information about requesting a review below.
A custodian must respond to your formal request within 30 days of receiving that request. The custodian may:
TimelinesA custodian has up to 30 days to either refuse or grant your request for access to your records. They may extend the timeline, but must tell you in writing if they do.
In some cases the 30 day time limit may be extended for another 30 days, or longer. You must be notified in writing if the time limit is extended. If the custodian takes longer than 30 days without informing you of an extension, this may be considered a refusal to provide the records which you may ask to have reviewed by the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia (IPC) .
Custodians may refuse to grant access to your personal health information if it is reasonable for the custodian to believe that disclosing the records would:
Custodians may also refuse your request if providing the information would violate a legal privilege, or if they believe the request is “frivolous or vexatious". Generally, a request may be considered frivolous or vexatious if it is primarily made for a reason other than accessing the records, for example, to harass the custodian.
If you are refused access to all or part of your records, the custodian must tell you why, in writing.
If you are refused access to your personal health information and disagree with that decision you have a right to complain to the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia (IPC) , and ask them to review the custodian's decision. The IPC provides independent oversight of PHIA. You must file a request for review within 60 days, from the time you get notice of the refusal. In some cases the 60 day time limit may be extended, so it is a good idea to contact the IPC about your situation even if you have missed the 60 day time limit.
If the IPC recommends that you should be allowed access to your health record, and the custodian still refuses to allow access, you may appeal to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. It is a good idea to consult a lawyer if you wish to appeal to the Supreme Court.
If, after reviewing your records, you believe there is an error you may make a request for a correction. This request should be in writing, but the custodian may also agree to correct the record if you simply ask them to.
A custodian does not have to correct your record if:
The custodian has 30 days to respond to your request either by correcting the record, or refusing to correct your record.
If the custodian refuses to correct your record they must explain why, in writing.
If you disagree with the refusal you can request that Nova Scotia’s Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) review the custodian's decision. You must file your request for a review within 60 days, from the time you get notice of the refusal.
Yes. PHIA allows a custodian to disclose personal health information about a person who has died if:
Yes. You can request a ‘record of user activity’ which is a list of the people who have looked at your health information in an electronic health information system. There is no fee to get this record. Once you make a request, the custodian has up to 30 days to respond.
The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia (OIPC) is an independent body responsible for responding to “requests for reviews” under both Nova Scotia’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and Nova Scotia’s Personal Health Information Act.
Visit the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Nova Scotia (OIPC) website for more information, or call the OIPC at:
If you disagree with the response you have received from a custodian you may you may ask the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia (IPC) to review the decision. For example, you can request a review if:
Review requests must be in writing. You can request a review by using a form provided by the IPC, or by writing a letter. Be sure to include:
There is no fee for requesting a review from the IPC.
Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, also known as the Review Office:
Phone: (902) 424-4684
No Charge-Dial: 1-866-243-1564
The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia also has a "Mini-Guide to Health Information in Nova Scotia", which is available online at: foipop.ns.ca/publictools
Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness:
Plain language information, including short video, about your rights under PHIA.
Privacy and Access Office
1894 Barrington Street
PO Box 488
Halifax, NS B3J 2R8
No Charge-Dial: 1-855-640-4765
Last updated: December 2015
This page provides legal information only. It is not intended to replace advice from a lawyer or other professional, such as a trustee in bankruptcy. Trustees in bankruptcy are licensed professionals who provide credit counseling and administer consumer proposals and bankruptcies. For further help look under "More information" below.
Q - What is bankruptcy?
A - Bankruptcy is a legal process that frees, or ‘discharges’, you from some, and very often all, of your debts. The Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act is a federal law that sets out the procedures and rules for bankruptcy. The law is administered by trustees and regulated by the federal Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada.
While bankruptcy is a serious legal process, you do not need to see a lawyer to go bankrupt. The first step is to contact a trustee in bankruptcy who will review your financial situation and give you advice on your options. You can often get a free initial consultation with a licensed trustee.
To be eligible for bankruptcy you must:
1. be released, or ‘discharged’, from any previous bankruptcy;
2. owe at least $1000 in unsecured debt;
3. live, do business, or have property in Canada; and
4. You must be unable to make your regular payments on your debts as they become due, or, the value of all your assets must be less than your total debts.
If you have never been bankrupt before you will likely be in bankruptcy for either 9 months or 21 months, depending on how much money you make and the number of people in your household.
If you’ve been bankrupt before the process will be longer. For example, if this is your second bankruptcy you’ll be in bankruptcy for either 24 or 36 months, depending on your situation.When you go bankrupt your creditors must stop contacting you for payment, and any legal action to collect your debts stops.
While you are bankrupt you must report your monthly income and expenses to the trustee. If your income is below the federal Superintendent of Bankruptcy’s Standards, which are based on Low Income Cutoffs from Statistics Canada, then you will be asked to make a modest contribution to help cover the cost of the bankruptcy administration. If your income is above the standard, then you have a legal obligation to fund your estate, according to a formula.
The trustee will also sell some of your assets (things you own), either to you or to someone else, to repay as much of your debts as possible. Some assets may be exempt, and cannot be sold. Examples of exempt assets are:
You may be able to retain ownership of some or all of your financed assets. The factors determining whether you can keep financed assets are complex, so you should consult with a trustee for information about your particular situation.
During the period of bankruptcy you must perform certain duties such as going to two counselling sessions for money management help, and keeping the trustee informed of your financial situation. If you fail to carry out these or other duties, the trustee or a creditor may oppose your discharge from bankruptcy.
If you are eligible for automatic discharge then the trustee will provide you with a Certificate of Discharge, to confirm the conclusion of your bankruptcy and release from debt. If you are ineligible for an automatic discharge, on account of conduct, underfunding of the estate or for some other reason then your application for discharge must be made in the Supreme Court before a judge or the Registrar in Bankruptcy.
Q - What happens if I cannot pay my debts?
A - If you fail to make your debt payments – for example, you miss loan payments or the minimum monthly payments on your credit cards, those debts will go into default. This may mean that:
In addition, a creditor who has ‘security’ on an asset may seize that asset if you do not make payments on the loan. Creditors who have a security interest are called ‘secured’ creditors. Security is sometimes also called collateral, and may include money or goods that you promise to give the creditor if you do not pay the debt. A common type of security is property, such as your vehicle or your house. For example, if you default on your car loan the creditor may be able to repossess your car without having to sue you first. If you do not pay your mortgage the mortgage lender has the right to go through a court process to foreclose on your home. See the page on foreclosure for information about the foreclosure process.
If you are having trouble paying your debts you should get some advice from a licensed trustee in bankruptcy who will review your financial situation and give you advice on your options.
Some of the options a trustee in bankruptcy may discuss with you include:
1) consolidation loans
3) credit counselling
4) consumer proposal, or offer to settle your debts with your creditors
Q - What is a consumer proposal?
A - A consumer proposal is an contract between you and your unsecured creditors providing for the settlement of debts over a period of time (no more than 5 years). Your debts must not exceed $250,000, excluding debts secured by your home. For example, you might make a proposal to your creditors to pay 60 cents on each dollar you owe. It does not affect the rights of secured creditors. An example of a secured creditor is a bank that has given you a loan secured on your home. If your creditors do not accept your consumer proposal or you fail to complete the terms of the proposal they can take legal action against you. You should contact a licensed trustee in bankruptcy, or Service Nova Scotia's Debtor Assistance Program, for further information about consumer proposals.
A - There are a number of drawbacks:
A bankruptcy will automatically downgrade your credit rating to the lowest level. During the counselling sessions with the trustee, the trustee will show you how to rebuild your credit rating and use credit in the future. Your credit rating should improve after bankruptcy if you demonstrate credit worthiness, including a track record of income. The fact that you went bankrupt will show up on your credit report for 6 years after your release from a first-time bankruptcy, and for 14 years for a second time bankruptcy. Go to the page on credit reports, and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, for more information about credit reports and scores.
A - You would not include your partner/spouse’s assets or debts unless they are jointly held with your partner or spouse. Your bankruptcy only involves your assets and debts.
If you own assets jointly with another person, then your portion of the non-exempt assets is part of the bankruptcy. An example is a house that you own jointly with your partner. The trustee will advise you on how any jointly owned assets will be dealt with in your situation.
If you and another person took on a debt together – for example, someone co-signed on a debt with you - the other person will still owe the debt even though you will be released from it after your bankruptcy. If you co-signed a debt for someone else, the creditor will not be able to demand payment from you if the other person stops making the regular payments on the loan.
It is important to tell the trustee if there are joint assets or debts so the trustee can assess how they should be dealt with.
A - Your spouse, common law or same sex partner is only responsible for your debts if you jointly owe them, for example, a joint bank account in overdraft, a join loan or joint credit card, or a credit card where all cardholders are jointly responsible for the debt, regardless of who made the charges.
A - The Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act sets out the fees a trustee is entitled to charge, as well as fees for things like counseling and filing documents with the Official Receiver.
Your initial consultation with a trustee in bankruptcy is often free.
During your bankruptcy the Canada Revenue Agency sends any GST rebate cheques and/or income tax refunds to the trustee, as they are considered to be property of your estate in bankruptcy. There are limits as to how much GST the trustee is permitted to retain, so at some point during the course of your bankruptcy administration you may once again receive the GST rebates. You will also have to make monthly payments to the trustee, the amount of which will depend on your level of income.
You should talk to a trustee in bankruptcy about the specific fees and costs involved in your situation.
A You should contact a trustee and set up a meeting. Often trustees will offer an initial consultation at little or no charge. At the consultation you can describe your financial situation and the trustee can discuss options with you.
If you've seen at least two different trustees in bankruptcy and still find you can't afford it, contact the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy at 1 877 376-9902 or online at osb.ic.gc.ca for information about their Bankruptcy Assistance Program. The Bankruptcy Assistance Program can help you find an affordable trustee, as long as you have received quotes from at least two different trustees in bankruptcy and cannot hire them.
A - If you fail to make your minimum monthly payments on your student loan, the loan will go into default. This means you may have to pay additional interest, be prevented from applying for a student loan in the future, have your debt sent to a collection agency, potentially have your credit rating downgraded, lose future income tax and GST rebates, face legal action, and lose eligibility for the Federal government's interest relief program.
If you are having trouble meeting you student loan payments you should apply for the government interest relief program. You can apply for this program any time during the repayment period. This program is designed to eliminate most if not all the interest on your student loan. The creditor holding your loan will have the application forms for this program.
Go to canlearn.ca for information about the federal government's student loan Repayment Assistance Plan, or, for Nova Scotia student loans, go to studentloans.ednet.ns.ca (Nova Scotia Department of Labour & Advanced Education).
A - Yes. You may file for bankruptcy on your student loans at any point, but you cannot be discharged from your student loan until seven years have passed between the time your studies ended and the date of your bankruptcy.
Declaring bankruptcy on your student loans before this seven-year period may not be much help to you, depending on how much other debt you have.
Once you are discharged from bankruptcy you are released from your student loan as long as your date of bankruptcy falls more than seven years after your studies concluded.
If it has been less than seven years since your last semester of school and you are having trouble paying your loan, you could apply for bankruptcy on other debts you may have, and once they are discharged you may be able to concentrate on paying off your student loan.
Depending on the circumstances, after 5 years have passed you may be able to apply to court to have your student loans discharged under the hardship provisions of the law, but you should talk with a licensed trustee in bankruptcy about your specific situation.
Depending on your situation you may also want to consider a consumer proposal as an alternative to bankruptcy. You should talk with a trustee about your situation.
A -A discharge from bankruptcy is your release from:
Some debts don’t get discharged. This means you will still owe them (be liable for them) after your bankruptcy is over.
Examples of debts that aren’t discharged are:
Speak with your trustee if you have questions about a particular debt, and whether bankruptcy will release you from that debt.
A - You have several options if your loan has gone to a collection agency. You can:
A - A collection agency can only seize property if it has a court order, meaning the agency would have to sue you. However, if the government is a creditor, for example, a student loan, tax debt, overpayment of a social benefit, the government may seize GST rebates and tax refunds to recover the debt.
What assets can be seized with a court order depends on your individual circumstances. Provincial laws outline a few basic rules as to what property can or cannot be seized. For example, in Nova Scotia the following property cannot be seized:
Keep in mind that a collection agency must first sue you in court and get a court order before it can seize any of your goods or money. The collection agency must notify you if they decide to sue you.
A - For more information contact:
These FAQs were developed with the support of a financial contribution from the Department of Justice Canada.
Reviewed January 2015.
Confused and frustrated by all the legal stuff in your cell phone contract? Cell phone contract rules under the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission’s national Wireless Code are in effect as of June 3, 2015. The rules apply to all cell phone contracts.
The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regulates telecommunications in Canada. The Wireless Code offers consumer protection for cell phone users across Canada.
The Code allows customers to cancel a contract more easily and at a lower cost. Cell phone companies must be clear and up-front about contract details, including the minimum monthly cost, and can’t change key contract terms like minimum monthly cost or services unless the change benefits the customer, or the customer agrees to the change.
Cell phone companies must also provide the customer with a copy of the contract, as soon as the customer agrees to the contract. If the customer agrees over the phone or online, the cell phone company must send the contract to the customer within 15 calendar days.
Although the Code does not affect how much cell phone companies actually charge for services, it does limit cancellation fees. If you got a free or lower cost phone as part of the deal, you’ll have to pay for the phone if you cancel early. The contract terms must tell you how much the phone is worth, so you can figure out the cancellation fee. The CRTC offers a quick online tool to help you calculate a cancellation fee: http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/info_sht/t1301.htm
You can cancel your contract at any time. It is a good idea to do that in writing, and keep a copy of the cancellation notice for yourself.
Under the Code, when a fixed-term contract runs out, the cell phone company may automatically extend it on a month-to-month basis. However, if they are going to extend the contract your cell phone company must give you at least 90 days notice of that before your contract runs out. If you don't contact them before the 90 days runs out the contract will automatically continue on a month-to-month basis.
If you want to cancel your contract and prevent it from rolling over into a month-to-month contract, you need to contact your cell phone company to let them know. It is a good idea to do that in writing.
When a contract is automatically extended, it must have the same rates, terms, and conditions as you agreed to in the expired contract. If the cell phone company plans to automatically extend the contract when it expires, the contract must say so.
If you choose to upgrade or change your phone, the cell phone company must clearly inform you in the written contract if this will extend, or change any other part of your contract. If a cell phone company offers a you an upgrade, the company must clearly explain any changes to the existing contract terms or period, should you decide to accept the upgrade.
As with any contract, it is very important to understand the contract terms before you sign it. Make sure you read it carefully. Take time to think it over, ask questions, and get the salesperson to explain anything you do not understand.
You can find the CRTC's complete Wireless Code online at crtc.gc.ca/wirelesscode.
If you have a complaint about cell phone services, or feel your cell phone company isn't following the Wireless Code rules, and you can’t resolve it with your cell phone company, you can contact Canada’s Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS) at 1-888-221-1687, or online at ccts-cprst.ca. The CCTS deals with consumer complaints about mobile, wireless and telephone services. If that doesn’t work, you can also try Industry Canada’s Office of Consumer Affairs, or Competition Bureau. Contact the Office of Consumer Affairs at 1 800 328-6189, or online at consumer.ic.gc.ca, and Competition Bureau at 1 800 348-5358 or online at competitionbureau.gc.ca
Last reviewed July 2015.
Sometimes a creditor may use a collection agency to collect a debt if you have fallen behind in your payments.
A collection agency is a business that arranges for and obtains payment of money owed to another person or organization.
Collection agencies and collectors (person employed by a collection agency) must be licensed to carry out collection activities in Nova Scotia. Service Nova Scotia licenses and regulates collection agencies and collectors in Nova Scotia, under the Collection Agencies Act.
Yes, but the agency must first write to you and tell you that it has been hired to collect the debt.
Collection agents or collectors are hired by companies who want to collect money from you when you have not paid a bill.
There are rules they must follow when they are trying to collect the debt.
A collection agency or collector must not call or talk to you until you have been notified in writing that they have been hired to collect the debt. When they contact you the agency or collector must tell you the agency's name, the amount you owe, and identity themselves and how they are authorized to collect the debt. They must first make sure that you owe the debt before they try to collect it.
The agency or collector must not:
The agency or collector may:
Yes, but only to get an address for you.
First, see if you can complain to the supervisor or manager of the collection agency to resolve the problem. Otherwise, you can complain to Service Nova Scotia. You may contact Service Nova Scotia through ACCESS Nova Scotia toll-free at 1 800 670-4357 or 424-5200 in the Halifax Regional Municipality, or visit novascotia.ca. In the most extreme cases, a collection agency's license can be suspended or cancelled.
You may also wish to get legal advice.
Yes, if the creditor assigns, that is sells, the debt to the collection agency, the agency can sue you in court. There are limits on the length of time a creditor has to sue on a debt, so you should find out how old the debt is.
If you receive a Notice of Claim (Nova Scotia Small Claims Court), a Notice of Action on a Debt (Supreme Court of Nova Scotia), or any other court document, you should contact a lawyer.
Service Nova Scotia offers a free Debtor Assistance Program - www.gov.ns.ca/snsmr/access/individuals/debtor-assistance.asp#debto. You can contact Service Nova Scotia through ACCESS Nova Scotia toll-free at 1 800 670-4357 or 424-5200 (HRM), or online at novascotia.ca/sns/access/contact.asp
Contact a credit counsellor. There are various credit counselling services listed in the yellow pages of the telephone book under 'Credit and Debt Counselling Services', or available online.
The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has reliable and helpful information about credit and debt.
The federal Superintendent of Bankruptcy also has helpful information for dealing with debt in their Dealing with Debt: A Consumer's Guide - http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/bsf-osb.nsf/eng/br01861.html.
You want to return some stuff you recently bought because you’ve changed your mind. You have an automatic right to return the stuff, and get your money back. True or False?
False. Well, as with many legal questions, the real answer is: ‘it depends’.
Many consumers believe that no matter what the product or service there is always an automatic cancellation or cooling-off period; that is, you always have a few days to change your mind and get a refund for any reason, with no penalty. That is wrong.
In most cases, if there is nothing wrong with what you’ve bought and the seller hasn’t broken the terms of the deal, you generally do not have the right to change your mind and just get out of the deal.
There are exceptions.
For example, even if there is nothing wrong with the product, you might still be able to cancel the deal without penalty if:
1)The seller agrees;
2)The contract specifies that you have a right to cancel. Many businesses offer refunds or exchanges as part of the contract. Return, refund or exchange policies usually have conditions though, so make sure you understand those limits before you buy. Some common conditions are:
3)There is an automatic cooling-off period under a statute, like Nova Scotia’s Consumer Protection Act or Cemetery and Funeral Services Act.
For example, the Consumer Protection Act automatically gives you 1 day to cancel if you’ve taken out a payday loan in-store (48 hours for an online loan), or 5 days to change your mind about joining a gym or other fitness club, and the Cemetery and Funeral Services Act has a 10 day cooling-off period for pre-paid funeral plans.
These automatic cooling-off periods only apply to certain kinds of contracts, where the legislature has decided to give consumers extra protection in a statute.
If you’re hoping to get out of a contract because you’ve changed your mind:
This article only talks about cancelling a contract because you’ve simply changed your mind, where there is no fault on either side. There are, of course, many situations where you may be able to get out of a contract where there is fault, such as if the product is defective, or the seller made misrepresentations or broke the contract terms or requirements under a consumer protection law like the Consumer Protection Act. For help and more information about consumer disputes like these, or questions about cooling-off periods:
This article only gives legal information. It does not give legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should contact a lawyer.
reviewed January 2015
This page provides legal information only. It is not intended to replace advice from a lawyer or other professional, such as a credit counsellor.
Consumer reporting agencies collect information about a person’s credit and payment history. Consumer reporting agencies are also called credit reporting agencies, or credit bureaus. The two main credit reporting agencies in Canada are Equifax and TransUnion. Credit reporting agencies must be licensed by Service Nova Scotia to operate here, and must follow the rules in Nova Scotia’s Consumer Reporting Act.
A credit report summarizes your credit history. It includes information about your borrowing and repayment history, whether you have filed for bankruptcy, or have collection activities or judgments against you. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada gives more information about credit reports and credit scores, and building a good credit history, at www.fcac-acfc.gc.ca
Prospective creditors, landlords, insurance companies, employers, may use this information to decide whether you are a good or bad credit risk. For example, you may be asked to agree to have a consumer reporting agency give a credit report about you when you apply to:
If a prospective creditor, landlord, insurance company or employer denies you a benefit or increases the cost of benefit to you based on your credit report, they must notify you immediately of the denial or increase in cost.
In most cases you must consent in writing to have your credit report given out. But there are exceptions:
Other than the exceptions listed here, no other person is authorized to obtain the information held by a credit reporting agency without your written consent, and a credit reporting agency is not allowed to sell, lease or give the information contained in your file other than to another credit reporting agency.
Yes. Any provincial or federal government department may obtain your name, address, former addresses, and place or former places of employment from a consumer reporting agency. In addition, the collection services division of Service Nova Scotia may obtain personal information such as your address, former address, places or former places of employment, and social insurance number, in order to aid in collecting a debt or fine owing to the Nova Scotia government.
Yes. But the lender may refuse to give you a loan or credit without that information.
Your credit file may contain information about your:
Information in your credit file must be in writing, and be fair and accurate. You have a right to have any inaccuracies in your credit file corrected.
Yes, you have a right to see your credit file. The reporting agency must also have someone available to explain your file to you. If you wish to see your file, you can make an appointment to do so in person at the credit reporting agency’s office. You may also request a copy of your credit file by mail, or online. It is free to get your credit file in person or by mail, but there is usually a fee to get it online. You must provide identification to view or get a copy of your credit file.
No. A credit reporting agency cannot demand that you waive any legal rights in order to see your credit file.
If you find incorrect information in your file, you may file a protest or complaint with the credit reporting agency. The agency must immediately verify the information – for example, by obtaining proof of the debt from the creditor. If the information cannot be verified, the agency must remove the inaccurate information from your file.
If the information is accurate, the reporting agency must record your protest in the file and tell you, and anyone who got your credit report in the past 60 days, what action was taken. You are allowed to put a short note in your file explaining the circumstances of a debt, judgment, late payment, etc.
Alternatively, if you are dissatisfied by the decision of a credit reporting agency regarding your protest or complaint, you can appeal to Service Nova Scotia.
If you feel you have been treated unfairly by a credit reporting agency you can make a complaint to Service Nova Scotia at 1 800 670 4357 or 424-5200, or go to www.gov.ns.ca/snsmr.
For most unpaid debts the time limit is 6 years; however this time period can change depending on the type of debt. In most cases a creditor must sue within 6 years in order to get a judgment from the court and extend the life of the unpaid debt. However, this time period could extend as far as 20 years depending on the circumstances. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has a chart with details about how long certain information stays on your credit report: www.fcac-acfc.gc.ca. If you have not been sued and the time limit is up, then the credit reporting agency cannot report information about that debt.
A bankruptcy stays on your credit record for 6 years from the date you are discharged, unless you have been bankrupt more than once.
Information about any offences where the charges were stayed, dismissed, set aside, or withdrawn cannot be reported. Information about criminal or summary offence convictions may be reported for up to 7 years from the date of conviction, or 7 years from the date you completed your sentence if you went to prison for the offence. Criminal convictions cannot be reported if you are pardoned or receive a record suspension for the offence.
No. All of the information in the file must come from within Canada. Foreign sources are not allowed.
It is possible you may owe interest or other fees to the creditor. It is also possible that the credit report was made before the reporting agency was notified of the payment. You can contact the original creditor to see if this is the case. If not, you can apply to the credit reporting agency to have the debt removed from your file.
Yes. There are several ways to improve your credit score, including
However, be wary of companies who say they will “repair” your credit. If the information contained in your credit report is true and accurate, no company can change the information, nor can they do anything more than you could do by simply reviewing your report and protesting any inaccurate information directly to the credit reporting agency.
Reviewed May 2016
This page gives legal information about residential mortgages. It does not give legal advice, and does not replace advice from other professionals, such as a credit counsellor, trustee in bankruptcy, or mortgage advisor. It is best to talk to your lender right away if you are having trouble making your mortgage payments. A credit counsellor or trustee in bankruptcy might also be able to help if you are having financial difficulties.
The process set out below is known as the “simplified procedure”. It applies to most foreclosures. However, the procedures may differ, depending on the complexity of your situation.
'Mortgagor' means the borrower, or the person(s) borrowing money from the financial institution.
'Mortgagee' means the lender, or the financial institution lending you money.
A mortgage is a loan agreement or contract between a borrower and lender, where the borrower’s property is promised as security for the loan. Mortgages can take many forms and can be taken by a mortgagee to secure obligations of the borrower whether or not the money being borrowed is for the purchase of the property.
|The usual steps in a foreclosure are:|
|1. Default||Borrower defaults on mortgage|
|2. Demand Letter||Lender sends Demand Letter to borrower|
|3. Notice of Action and Statement of Claim||If demand letter fails, the lender starts legal proceedings and serves the borrower, in person, with court documents starting the foreclosure process (Notice of Action & Statement of Claim)|
|4. Defence||After getting the Notice of Action and Statement of Claim, the borrower files a defence or applies to court for other relief within: 15 business days, if served in Nova Scotia; 30 business days, if served in Canada, but outside Nova Scotia; 45 business days, if served outside Canada.|
|5. Motion to Court for Order for Foreclosure, Sale and Possession||If no agreement is reached, and no defence is filed within the required time after Notice of Action and Statement of Claim is served on the borrower, or any defence is unsuccessful, the lender makes a Motion to court for Order for Foreclosure, Sale and Possession|
|6. Order for Foreclosure, Sale and Possession issued by court||Court grants Order for Foreclosure, Sale and Possession|
|7. Notice of sale of the property at Public Auction||Notice is published twice in a local newspaper, with a copy sent to borrower by regular mail at the mortgaged property (or last known address if different from mortgaged property) at least 15 days before sale|
|8. Sheriff’s sale of the property by Public Auction||Property is sold at a public auction in the county where the property is located. Generally, homeowner (borrower/mortgagor) should be ready to move out on the date of the public auction.|
|9. Claim for Deficiency or Surplus after the sale||Application(s) to court to deal with any deficiency or surplus based on the proceeds of sale.|
|10. Confirmatory Order||The lender obtains an order from the court confirming that the foreclosure is complete|
In Nova Scotia foreclosure is a legal process which allows the lender to get ownership of the property and to sell it at a public auction (‘foreclosure and sale’), and to use the sale proceeds to pay off the mortgage debt, legal costs, Sheriff fees and other costs.
Most people who buy a home need to borrow money from a bank or other financial institution to help cover the purchase price of the home. Usually the loan is secured by a mortgage on the property.
If you default on your mortgage your lender may take legal steps to ‘foreclose’ on your property. Default means you have broken the terms of your mortgage. The most common reason for a default is not making mortgage payments when they are due.
Mortgages have many conditions and covenants (promises) the borrower must follow. A breach of any of these promises can be a default, which can result in foreclosure. While failure to pay amounts owing to the lender is the most common default, it is not the only form of default. Some mortgages even allow the lender to demand repayment of the mortgage in full and subsequently foreclose at any time at their discretion without default.
When you arrange a mortgage, it is a contract between you and the lending institution, where you agree to re-pay the principal and interest according to a set schedule. While you are considered the legal owner of the house, the lender will have recorded this mortgage with the Land Registry, to protect their interests. If you fail to make the scheduled payments as set out in the mortgage agreement, the lender has the legal right to force a sale of the house.
However, most lenders prefer to avoid foreclosing, and will make reasonable efforts to accommodate your circumstances, including refinancing (whether with the current lender or another lender or financial institution) or setting up a payment plan that better suits your financial situation. So, talk to your lender right away if you are having trouble making your mortgage payments. Do not wait until legal proceedings have started against you as your options may be greatly reduced.
Q- When can the lender foreclose on my property?
The lender can start the foreclosure process if you default on your mortgage. Default means you break any of the terms of your mortgage, including falling behind on mortgage payments.
Most mortgages have an ‘acceleration clause’, which usually says that if you miss a payment the entire amount owing on the mortgage is payable right away.
Demand letter: Before taking legal action the lender or his or her lawyer will usually send you a demand letter.
A demand letter:
It is not a good idea to ignore a demand letter. This is an opportunity to negotiate with the lender or their lawyer to try to get your mortgage back on track. Call the lender or their lawyer right away. Usually the lender would prefer it if you can catch up on your payments, so talk to them about how and when you might be able to do that. Ask whether you can refinance, to lower your mortgage payments and pay them over a longer period. You can also try speaking with a new lender to see if you can get a new mortgage to pay off the original mortgage. You might also want to consider putting your property up for sale because a sale outside of the Public Auction process generally generates a higher sale price. However, as stated earlier, if you are facing financial difficulty and are unable to make your mortgage payments, you should talk to you lender right away. By the time a Demand Letter is sent out the lender has usually already retained a lawyer, which will increase the amount of money the lender is looking for to bring the mortgage up to date.
Yes. You will get a Notice of Action and Statement of Claim.
Notice of Action and Statement of Claim: If you do not respond to a demand letter before the deadline in the letter, or can’t negotiate an agreement with the lender, the lender (mortgagee), may start the foreclosure process.
The lender starts foreclosure by having a legal document called a Notice of Action and a Statement of Claim filed with the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia and delivered to you. They are required to deliver this notice to you in person (‘personal service’). It is not something they may drop off in your mail box or courier to you, unless the lender has applied to the court to get permission to have you served (notified) in an alternative way, called substituted service. However, a court generally only grants substituted service if the lender proves to the court that they have exhausted all reasonable efforts and attempts to serve the borrower in person. It is not a good idea to evade personal service as this will increase the lender’s legal costs, and therefore will increase the amount the lender is looking for when the foreclosure is complete.
Q- What is a Notice of Action and a Statement of Claim, and what are some of my options if I get a Notice?
A Notice of Action is a court document that tells you that the lender is starting a legal process against you because you broke the terms of your loan or mortgage. It tells you the basics of who is involved in the foreclosure process, and how long you have to file a defence.
A Statement of Claim is a court document attached to the Notice of Action. The Statement of Claim outlines the details of what the lender is claiming against you in court. It may include the following:
1) The date of the mortgage:
2) Details of the registration of the mortgage at the Registry of Deeds or Land Registration office;
3) The property involved;
4) Details of the default (for example, you defaulted because you did not make a payment or broke some other term of the mortgage);
5) Details of any agreement(s) that might have changed your mortgage;
6) The total amount outstanding on the mortgage or amount unpaid. This will usually include the principal balance, interest, property taxes, legal fees and out-of-pocket expenses of the lender, generally known as “protective disbursements”;
7) A statement asking for foreclosure and sale of the property (‘Order for Foreclosure, Sale and Possession’) if the total amount of the mortgage, interest and costs are not paid;
8) A statement asking for a deficiency judgment to cover the balance of the loan if the property is sold for less than what is owed to the mortgage lender.
Once you are served the Notice of Action and Statement of Claim you may:
If you want to file a defence, you must file it within the required time.
If you disagree with what is in the Notice of Action & Statement of Claim, you should file a defence with the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia within the following time:
The days are business days, so weekends and weekdays when the court is closed are not included. The 15 day timeline applies to most circumstances, so don’t miss the deadline.
If you choose to file a defence, it should include why you feel your property should not be foreclosed upon. You should try to get legal advice if you wish to file a defence.
Some examples of defences may include:
1) That the mortgage was not signed;
2) You never received money from the lender;
3) You repaid the lender;
4) You have not broken any mortgage terms and you are not in default.
You must file your defence with the court (Supreme Court of Nova Scotia) and serve the lender or their lawyer personally with a copy of your defence. The court will then give you a court date for you to dispute the lender’s claim to a foreclosure.
Q- What happens if I do not file a defence?
If you do not either file a defence or apply to court for other relief, such as applying to court to have the foreclosure discontinued, the lender will apply to a judge for an Order for Foreclosure, Sale and Possession of the property. This court application is called a motion, and is usually ‘ex parte’, which means without notice to you. The idea is that you were already notified of the court process when you got the Notice of Action and Statement of Claim and chose not to participate by not filing a defence.
At the hearing for the Order for Foreclosure, the judge can:
Negotiate: The easiest way is to negotiate with the lender. If you have missed payments, contact the lender and talk about your situation right away. The lender may be willing to give you time to catch up with payments. You may be able to refinance, so that you have lower mortgage payments over a longer term. Never ignore the lender’s letters or inquiries.
Redeem: You may “redeem” the mortgage by paying the full amount owing on the mortgage, including the interest, principal and any penalties or costs, before the sale of your property at public auction. This way you keep the equity built up in your home. This may mean:
Apply to court to discontinue the foreclosure (‘reinstate’ your mortgage): This option can only be used once during the life of a mortgage. You can apply to court to have a foreclosure action discontinued (have the mortgage ‘reinstated’). This is a right under a provincial law called the Judicature Act. If the default is non-payment of the mortgage, you will have to pay all the arrears and the lender’s legal costs (legal fees and out-of-pocket expenses). If the default is a breach of a covenant (promise), you will have to perform the covenant in default and pay the lender’s legal costs. You can apply to court to discontinue the foreclosure even if the lender is refusing to accept payments. However, you can only apply to court to discontinue the foreclosure before the lender has made the motion and obtained a court order for foreclosure and sale (see ‘What happens if I do not file a defence’).
Defend the action: if you file a successful defence, the foreclosure process may be stopped.
You should try to see a lawyer and other professional such as a credit counsellor to get advice about the best option in your situation.
Q- Is bankruptcy an option to stop foreclosure?
No, the lender can still foreclose if you are in default of the mortgage terms. However, it may help you to declare bankruptcy on other debts so that you may concentrate your finances on paying the mortgage, and may deal with a deficiency claim if the property is sold at public auction and there is a shortfall. You should talk to a credit counsellor or trustee in bankruptcy (only a trustee can deal with bankruptcies) about your financial situation and the options open to you. Go to LISNS page on bankruptcy (legalinfo.org/consumers-debt/bankruptcy.html) for information about credit counselling, and bankruptcy.
Q- Can the lender refuse to accept payments once a court process has started?
Nova Scotia’s Judicature Act gives you the right to discontinue the foreclosure process by paying all outstanding arrears and costs owed to the lender or performing the covenant (promise) that is being broken. This is also called 'reinstating' the mortgage. You can do this even if the lender is refusing to accept payments. This can be done up until an Order for Foreclosure, Sale and Possession has been issued (made) by the court. This right is only available once per mortgage. You must apply to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. You should get legal advice from a lawyer if you can, to get help with your application.
The court has no power to discontinue on payment of arrears and legal costs if there is a second foreclosure proceeding under the same mortgage (i.e. where you reinstated the mortgage and default again, and the lender starts foreclosure proceedings for the new default). If the mortgage has been reinstated once before, the only way to stop the new process is through agreement with the lender or by paying the entire amount of the mortgage, plus interests, costs and out-of-pocket expenses.
Q- Who are the plaintiff and defendants in a foreclosure?
Plaintiff: this is the lender who started the foreclosure process. Their lawyer will be at the court hearing on the lender’s behalf.
Defendants may include:
If no defence is filed, usually only the plaintiff’s lawyer will be at the foreclosure court hearing.
Q- How is the property sold on foreclosure?
If the lender is successful on their motion and got an Order for Foreclosure, Sale and Possession, the lender will arrange for sale of the home, usually through public auction by the Sheriff.
After the court grants an Order for Foresclosure, Sale and Possession, there will be a Sheriff’s sale by public auction. The auction is done by the Sheriff, or by any other person given that power by the court. Recently, the court in Nova Scotia has allowed the sale to be done by an experienced foreclosure lawyer in order to reduce fees associated with the Sheriff.
The property will be sold at a public auction in the county where the property is located.
The plaintiff (lender or their lawyer) must:
The notice will contain the time and place of the auction.
Although unusual, if the lender has an offer to purchase the property from a third party and all subsequent encumbrancers agree with the sale, the lender may apply to the court for approval to sell the property privately. However, in most cases the property will be sold at a public auction.
Q- What is the procedure at the Public Auction?
The Sheriff, or person appointed by the court, will hold the public auction at the time and place in the notice. If you wish to bid, you must go personally or send someone to bid on your behalf.
The successful bidder will have to pay 10% of the sale price at the end of the auction and then has 15 days to pay the rest If you are the successful bidder, and you have not paid the rest within the 15 days, you will lose the 10% deposit, as it will be applied against the amount owing to the lender. You cannot recover this money.
The rules requiring 10% down payment at the auction are firm. If you are the highest bidder and do not have the full 10% in guaranteed form (cash, certified cheque or solicitor’s trust cheque) with you at the auction, your bid may be unsuccessful and the property will go to the next highest bidder. The Sheriff has the discretion to allow the highest bidder a short amount of time to get the funds but is not required to do so and may refuse. Even if the Sheriff provides you with a short time to get the funds, in practice it is as little as 20 minutes. Therefore, if you want to be the successful bidder, you should ensure you have the 10% available at the auction.
If the lender is the successful bidder they may still ask for a Deficiency Judgment.
Deficiency: Following the sale, a lender may apply to the court for a Deficiency Judgment, which is a request by the plaintiff to get a judgment against the borrower for the shortfall amount; that is, the difference between the amount owing on the mortgage (plus interest, costs, out-of-pocket expenses, Sheriff fees, property taxes), and the amount received from the sale of the property.
The lender must show that the amount obtained from the sale of the property is a fair market price. This is determined either by actual sale or though an appraisal.
The borrower and anyone else who may have to pay the deficiency amount will get at least 10 days’ notice of the deficiency hearing. The plaintiff has 6 months to apply for a Deficiency Judgment, from the date of the Sheriff’s sale.
Q- What if the sale price is more than the amount owing to the lender?
Surplus: If the sale of the property brings in more money than the amount of Sheriff’s fees and outstanding taxes and the amount owed to the plaintiff, the surplus is given to the Accountant General of the Supreme Court. It will be distributed among those who have filed claims against the property and those who are owed money by the borrower (known as subsequent encumbrancers). They can apply to the court to be paid and are paid according to priority. Before these people are paid the Sheriff must pay any outstanding property taxes from this surplus. If there is still a surplus, any party involved with the foreclosure, including the borrower, may apply to the court or judge to receive the surplus. Before applying however, each party must file an affidavit (sworn document) to prove they are entitled to a claim. The court or judge may then order the distribution of the surplus to the parties by priority.
You should try to get legal advice if you wish to make a claim for surplus.
Q- What happens once the property is sold?
Once the property is sold and the amount due has been paid to the lender , the Sheriff files a report with the court as soon as possible. This report states that the property has been sold, the name of the successful bidder, the purchase price, how the money was distributed and that the Sheriff has delivered the deed to the property to the successful bidder.
Q- What happens once the Sheriffs report is received by the court?
Once the report is filed, the lender will apply for an Order Confirming Sale. This order states that the sale has taken place and that the foreclosure is complete. The lender must also file: 1) The sheriff’s report and 2) An affidavit (usually prepared by the plaintiff’s lawyer) stating that the advertisement was done and notices were sent to all those who had interest in the property.
Q- How soon do I have to leave the property after the sale?
You should be ready to move out on the date of the public auction.
If you are a homeowner, you must leave the property once the successful bidder completes the purchase, unless the new owner says otherwise.
The Order for Foreclosure, Sale and Possession usually gives the lender the ability to ask the Sheriff to deliver possession of the property. This means the lender may require that you leave as soon as the Order for Foreclosure, Sale and Possession has been issued (made).
However, lenders generally don’t request vacant possession (require that you leave) until the date of the sale at public auction. When a lender sends the notice of sale under public auction to the homeowner, they usually advise that the homeowner must vacate (leave) the premises on or before the date of the sale at public auction.
Once the property has been sold on the date of the public auction, you may ask the new owner for permission to stay in the property. However, they have no obligation to let you stay and therefore you should be prepared to move out on the date of the public auction.
If you are a tenant, how soon you move out depends on the type of tenant you are. If you are a residential tenant (for example, renting an apartment) you must be given notice according to the the Residential Tenancies Act (the earlier of 3 months or the expiry of the lease under any written lease agreement – such as a fixed term lease). Contact Residential Tenancies at 902-424-5200 or 1-800-670-4357, or online at gov.ns.ca/snsmr/access/land/residential-tenancies.asp for more information. If you are a commercial tenant (a place rented for business) you must move out the day of the foreclosure sale, unless the new owner tells you otherwise.
The successful bidder becomes owner of the property once the full purchase price has been paid and the Sheriff gives him or her the deed. The foreclosure is complete once the Confirmatory Order is granted.
Q- How long does the foreclosure process take?
If no defence is filed and the lender goes through the normal steps, foreclosure takes 2 to 3 months from the filing of the Notice of Action and Statement of Claim to the concluded sale. It may take longer, depending on the court schedule.
The 2 to 3 months consists of:
1. The 15 days to file a defence after being served the Notice of Action (longer than 15 days if you are served outside of Nova Scotia, as set out above).
2. If no defence is filed, the lender can schedule the Motion to court for Order for Foreclosure, Sale and Possession, with 2 days’ notice.
3. The 15 days’ notice required between the Order for Foreclosure, Sale and Possession and advertisement for the sale at public auction.
4. The 15 day time limit for the successful bidder at the auction to pay the full purchase price.
The days are business days, so weekends and weekdays when the court is closed are not included. The rest of the time involved will depend on how quickly the lender decides to proceed, and the availability of a judge to hear the case and grant the orders.
If a defence is filed, the above timeline can vary a lot. The lender may make a motion to court for summary judgment, and how long things will take will depend on the success of the defence, as well as the court schedule.
Q- Where can I get more information or help?
New rules for gift cards, made under Nova Scotia's Consumer Protection Act, came into effect on February 1, 2010.
The rules say that gift cards purchased on or after February 1, 2010 do not expire.
Basic gift card rules are discussed below. This page provides legal information only, not legal advice.
Businesses are not allowed to issue or sell a gift card that has an expiry date. You can redeem the gift card as if it had no expiry date. There are some exceptions. Expiry dates are allowed on gift cards:
Also, the gift card rules do not apply to prepaid telephone cards or prepaid credit cards such as Visa or Mastercard.
Businesses are not allowed to charge service fees for gift cards. If you are charged a service fee for a gift card you can demand a fee refund. Your refund request must be in writing. The business must refund the fee within 15 days of your request.
Businesses are allowed to charge a fee to replace a lost or stolen card, or to customize a gift card. A fee is also allowed if the gift card is for a charitable purpose, or for marketing, advertising, or promotion.
When you buy a gift card a business must tell you, in writing:
Make sure you understand all the card's terms and conditions when you buy it, including any rules about refunds, returns or exchanges.
For more information consumers or businesses can contact Service Nova Scotia at www.novascotiagiftcards.ca, or call 1 800 670-4357.
For further information on consumer protection generally visit Canada's Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA) through Industry Canada at www.ic.gc.ca.
Thinking about joining a gym to reach your fitness goals? Nova Scotia’s Consumer Protection Act has special rules for contracts when you join a gym, health or fitness club. These include rules about what must be in the contract, initiation fees, payment plans, and cancelling or renewing the contract. These rules are discussed below.
This page gives legal information only, not legal advice.
Your gym membership contract must be in writing, and must include the following:
If you are paying by installments, the contract must tell you the number of payments you have to make, the amount of each payment, and any additional cost for paying by installments.
If any of the services are not available when you sign the contract, then the contract must give the date when services will be available.
Read the contract very carefully, and make sure you understand it before you sign.
Yes. A gym can charge an initiation fee on top of the membership fee. However, your gym cannot charge you more than one initiation fee, or charge an initiation fee that is more than double the membership fee.
Yes. A gym must offer you the option of paying membership fees and any initiation fee in monthly payments over the contract term.
If you pay by instalments the gym is allowed to charge you up to 25 percent more than the total would be if you paid up front. The contract must include the number of payments you have to make, the amount of each payment, and any additional cost for paying by instalments.
Yes. There is a 5-day cooling-off period. This gives you a chance to try out the facilities at the gym or fitness club, and change your mind about joining if you decide it is not right for you.
You can cancel a gym membership contract within 5 days of signing the contract, or within 5 days of the services becoming available, whichever is later. You do not have to give a reason for cancelling. You must cancel the contract in writing. You may want to deliver the written notice of cancellation in person, and get a signature proving receipt, or send it by registered mail. Registered mail is a good idea as you will have proof that it was delivered. Keep a copy of the proof of cancellation.
If you cancel within the 5-day cooling-off period you are entitled to a refund of any money you paid. The gym must refund your money within 20 days of cancellation of the contract.
A gym contract cannot be longer than one year. However, your contract may be renewed automatically if the gym follows certain rules.
The gym must send you a written reminder that the gym has a right to renew your contract automatically if you do not respond to the renewal notice. They must send the renewal notice at least 30 days, but not more than 90 days, before the end of the contract.
Do not ignore the renewal notice. If you get a renewal notice you must notify the gym in writing if you do not want to renew the contract. You must notify the gym before the contract ends. You may want to deliver your notice of non-renewal in person, and get a signature proving receipt, or send it by registered mail. Keep a copy for your records.
Service Nova Scotia helps resolve consumer issues, and administers the Consumer Protection Act. Contact Service Nova Scotia at 902-424-5200 or 1 800 670-4357, or visit Service Nova Scotia online.
For further information on consumer issues visit Canada’s Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA) through Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada at www.ic.gc.ca.
reviewed January 2016
What do magic clothes pins, talking alarm clocks, intelligent hearing aids, and snowboards have in common? You'll find them all, and much more, on Canada's Patent Database!
The following is general information about four types of intellectual property: patents, trade-marks, copyrights and industrial designs. It is not intended to replace advice from a professional such as a lawyer or registered patent or trade-mark agent.
A - Patents are federal government grants that award inventors the right to prevent others from making, selling or using their inventions from the day the patent is granted for a period of twenty years from the date the patent application is filed. An inventor must apply for and receive a patent for each country in which he or she wishes to have such a right.
A - Under the Canadian Patent Act, protection is available for any new and useful art, process, machine, manufacture or composition of matter or any new and useful improvement of an existing invention. In order to qualify for a patent, the invention must be new, useful and unobvious. In order to be new, the invention must be the first of its kind in the world. The invention must not have been previously disclosed to the public by anyone other than the inventor. Even disclosure of the invention to the public by the inventor before the patent application is filed can in some circumstances (such as trade exhibitions) prevent the invention from being novel and ruin the potential for it to be patented. To meet the second criteria, usefulness, the invention must be functional and operative. The invention must add value to the existing technology. In order to meet the third requirement, that the invention be unobvious, the invention must be one that would not have been obvious to a person of ordinary skill working in the art. A Person of “ordinary skill in the art” could be someone well-versed with the technology through education and/or experience in the area. The reference point for a comparison to existing technology is any published research, literature, existing inventions (whether patented, non-patented or having an expired patent) and in some cases existing traditional knowledge. This gamut of pre-existing knowledge is called prior art.
Rights in a patent are not on the entire invention/product/process as a whole, but is restricted to the "claims" made. In other words nothing stops someone from making a patent application for an improvement on a common object like a pen or stapler, so long as he restricts his patent rights, via "claims" to the new, useful and unobvious features of the invention/improvement.
Inventors can search the Canadian Patent Database to determine what inventions are already patented in Canada.
A - Patents are granted to the first inventor to file an application. For this reason it is wise for an inventor to file for a patent as soon as possible, but not so soon in the development process that important features of the invention are not yet known. Also, as mentioned above, disclosure of the invention prior to filing the application may ruin the potential for a patent in some cases.
Making a patent application can be a lengthy and complex process and inventors often seek professional help from a registered patent agent. A list of registered patent agents is provided on the Canadian Intellectual Property website. Canada Business also has a list available. Separate applications must be filed for each country in which protection for a patent is desired.
A - Trade-marks are words, designs, symbols, two-dimensional or three-dimensional forms or any combination of these things used in association with the wares and/or services of one person, organization or business to distinguish their wares and/or services from those offered by others in the marketplace. The Canadian IP Office has also now started recognizing sound(s) as trademarks.
Every trademark must be identified with a set of goods or services. The trade mark must either already be in use or intended/proposed to be used. The date of first use can often become a significant factor in claiming trademark rights.
In Canada, proper trade-marks are entitled to protection whether they are registered with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office or not.
A - Trade names are not the same as trade-marks. Trade names are names under which a business operates, whether or not it is the company name, while trade-marks are associated with the wares and/or services that a business sells. A trade name and a company name may be registered as trade-marks in some cases if they are used as trade-marks. It is important to note that the registration of a company or trade name with the Registry of Joint Stock Companies does not protect it as a trade-mark.
It is possible to have several trademarks under a trade name (which itself may or may not be a trademark). We often see this with consumer product companies where several sub-brands exist.
A - Registration of a trade-mark is not mandatory, but it does make it easier for the trade-mark owner to prevent others from using the trade-mark, or similar ones, in association with the same or similar wares and/or services. This is because a trade-mark registered with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office provides its owner exclusive use of that trade-mark in association with the specific wares and services associated with it in Canada for a term of fifteen years and this term is renewable indefinitely.
Trademarks are the only form of intellectual property that can be in force perpetually. Since trademarks are brand/product identifiers this is even more significant!
The registration process can also help a business ensure that it is not infringing the trade-mark of another business. Registration has another benefit in that it provides public notice of the business ownership of the trade-mark and this may discourage others from adopting similar ones. An unregistered trade-mark may be recognized by the courts as belonging to an owner in some circumstances; however, such protection is generally limited to the geographical area, such as Halifax, in which the owner uses the trade-mark and the court proceedings required to establish the protection may be costly.
A trade-mark agent may assist persons, organizations and businesses in determining whether a selected trade-mark has the potential to be registered and can assist with the application process. A list of trade-mark agents is provided on the Canadian Intellectual Property website. Separate applications must be filed for each country in which protection for a trade-mark is desired.
A - There are a number of specific types of trade-marks that may not be registered. These include trade-marks that would be likely to cause confusion in the minds of average consumers due to their similarity with previously registered trade-marks. Also, trade-marks that are clearly descriptive or deceptively misdescriptive of the wares and/or services with which they are to be associated are not permitted, nor are trade-marks that indicate the geographical origin or mode of production of the product. Further, there are many other restrictions, including trade-marks that make use of national flags and coats of arms, or that use offensive imagery or words.
A -Copyright grants the copyright owner the exclusive right to produce, reproduce, perform or publish their original work, or any substantial part of it, in Canada and to allow others to do the same. Copyright protects an original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work and also applies to other subject matter, such as performers' performances, communications signals, computer programmes and sound recordings. The person who creates the original work is called the author of the work.
As a general rule, copyright extends for the lifetime of the author, performer or maker of the work and for 50 years after their death. Specific works that are no longer subject to copyright are said to be in the public domain and may be copied, performed and published, generally speaking.
A - The first owner of a copyright is the author of the work, unless the work is subject to an exception, such as when the work is created in the course of employment, or it is a photograph.
A - Copyright arises automatically when a person creates an original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or other subject matter. In order for copyright to exist, the work must be fixed in a material form, for example, a poem must be written down. Copyright does not protect ideas, concepts, facts or information. Generally speaking, neither does it protect slogans, most titles, plots, or methods, such as a method of teaching.
It is also important to note that copyright is acquired for an expression of an idea, and not the idea itself. For instance, a particular idea or theme behind a romantic poem is not subject to copyright, but the expression of the idea is. Therefore, in a class of 15 students who write their own versions of a story, each student would have a copyright in their own version.
Copyright may be registered with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, and while copyright arises even without registration, registration is notice to the public that copyright in the work is claimed by the registered owner. Further, it creates the legal presumption that the registered owner is the true owner of the copyright in that work. Separate applications must be filed for each country in which protection for a work is desired.
A - The general rule is that persons may not copy or publish works that are subject to copyright. However, there are some exceptions. One is the 'fair dealing' exception that allows limited portions of works subject to copyright to be copied for the purpose of private study, research, commentary or criticism, provided the source of the work is provided along with the name of the author, performer, maker or broadcaster if mentioned in the source. How much use of a work will be considered fair dealing depends on the specific circumstances of each use. Plagiarism issues often revolve around the amount of copyright protected material used.
In the case of material used for study, particular schools and universities may have entered into a photocopying licensing agreement that allows students and faculty to photocopy certain material that would otherwise constitute copyright infringement. If you have concerns about whether the use of a copyrighted work would be copyright infringement in such a case, the school administration or library should be able to advise you about its copyright policy. An exception also exists for the purposes of reporting.
With respect to images posted on the internet, they are subject to the same copyright protection as images published in any other form. Regarding copying musical works, sound recordings or performers' performances, the Copyright Act allows persons to copy music onto an audio recording device for their own private use.
A - Regarding the public performance of musical works, sound recordings, theatrical works and other subject matter, performers or presenters must ensure that the rights to perform or present the works subject to copyright are secured either through the venue in which the performance will occur or through direct contact with the author or owner of the work, or their union or other representatives. In certain instances, a license may be needed.
A - Under the Copyright Act, an author has a moral right in the work they create. This moral right is the right the author has to the integrity of their work, and the right, where reasonable in the circumstances, to be associated with it as its author, or under a pseudonym, when that work is reproduced, performed, adapted, communicated to the public or otherwise dealt with as outlined in the Copyright Act. Moral rights are infringed when, to the prejudice of the honour or reputation of the author, the work is distorted, mutilated, or otherwise modified, or used in association with a product, service, cause or institution without permission. Moral rights also give the author the right to remain anonymous. Unlike copyrights, moral rights cannot be assigned to other owners, but they may be waived.
A - Industrial designs are the features of shape, pattern, configuration or ornamentation that give an article visual appeal, such as the shape of a lamp or a chair. Industrial designs do not include features of an article that are dictated solely by a utilitarian function
A - Registration provides the owner with the sole right to make, import for the purpose of trade or business, sell, rent, offer or expose for sale or rent any article produced with the same or a substantially similar appearance for a period of ten years from the date of registration in Canada. Industrial designs can only be protected through registration with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office; however, it is important to note that if fewer than fifty copies of the article using the design are produced, the design may be protected as an artistic work under copyright law. Under certain circumstances, once more than fifty of the product based on the design is produced, copyright may no longer prevent others from producing products with the same design and protection. Also, some protection for a product design may exist under the trade-mark law of distinguishing guises in some circumstances.
A - The general rule is that an application for an industrial design must be filed within one year of the design being offered for commercial sale or displayed to the public anywhere in the world. Separate applications must be filed for each country in which protection for an industrial design is desired.
More information on each of these types of intellectual property is available on the Canadian Intellectual Property Office website at http://cipo.gc.ca, and further information may also be available through Canada Business. The Canada Business general inquiry telephone number is 1-888-576-4444, or visit www.canadabusiness.ca.
Reviewed May 2016
Payday loans are short-term, high risk and high interest loans. There are other, far less expensive ways to borrow money, so consider your options carefully before borrowing from a payday lender.
You may wish to speak with a credit counsellor about other, lower cost ways to borrow money, such as a loan from a line of credit or a cash advance on your credit card.
Credit counsellors are listed under 'Credit and Debt Counselling' in the yellow pages of the telephone book. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has information about finding a reputable credit counsellor, and about how they can help.
The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada also has easy-to-understand information about payday loans.
This page talks about your rights if you get a payday loan in Nova Scotia. It gives legal information only, not legal advice.
A payday loan is a loan of $1500 or less. The average payday loan in Nova Scotia is for about $430. The money is borrowed for short periods, from a few days to a few weeks. The loan term cannot be more than 62 days.
To get a payday loan you usually give the lender:
In Nova Scotia the most a payday lender can charge is $22 for every $100 you borrow, as long as you pay the loan back on time. This is called the maximum 'total cost of borrowing'.
Your total cost of borrowing is the total amount the loan will cost you, if you repay the loan on time.
The cost of borrowing includes:
Whether they are called fees, commission, interest or something else, it all adds up to the total amount that the loan will cost you.
The total cost of borrowing cannot be more than $22 for every $100 you borrow. For example, if you borrow $300, a payday lender cannot charge you more than $66 as the total cost of borrowing. In this example the most you would be required to repay is $366, if you repay the loan on time. If you do not repay the loan on time, you will be charged interest on the amount you still owe. The interest rate will be the amount specified in your loan agreement for default, up to a maximum of 60%. In addition, you may be charged a default penalty of up to $40.
Payday lenders must have a poster in their store giving an example of the total cost of borrowing, like the table below:
|Example:||$300 loan for 14 days|
|Total Cost of borrowing:||$66|
|Total to repay:||$300 plus $66 = $366|
|Annual Percentage Rate:||APR = 573.57%|
Payday lenders are regulated and licensed by Service Nova Scotia to offer, arrange or give payday loans in Nova Scotia. Lenders must follow the rules in the Consumer Protection Act and regulations in order to get, keep or renew a license. Licenses must be renewed every year. As of May 1, 2012, internet payday lenders are also regulated in Nova Scotia, and must have a permit from Service Nova Scotia to arrange or provide internet payday loans in Nova Scotia.
In certain situations Service Nova Scotia may refuse to give or renew a license, or may suspend or cancel a license.
Call Service Nova Scotia at 1 800-670-4357 to check whether a particular payday lender is licensed to operate here.
A payday lender must give you the following information:
The information must be clear, easy to understand, and in writing.
You and the lender must both sign your loan agreement. Read it carefully before you sign.
If you get a cash card the lender must give you the card terms and conditions in writing, including the amount of credit on the cash card, and any card expiry date or extra charges for using the card at a place other than the payday lender.
Storefront location payday loan:
There is a one day cooling-off period after signing a payday loan agreement. You may cancel a payday loan at any time before the end of business on the day after you get the money or could access the money. This means the next business day. For example, if you get the money on a Friday and the business is closed until Monday, you would have until the end of business on Monday to cancel the loan.
Online payday loan:
You may cancel an online payday loan within 48 hours after you get or could access the money.
There is no penalty for cancelling a payday loan within the cooling-off period, and you do not have to give a reason for cancelling.
You may cancel the loan during the cooling-off period, without giving a reason and without penalty.
You may also cancel at any time if:
You must cancel the loan in writing, and repay any money owing. The lender should have given you a form to use to cancel. You may use that form to cancel the loan, or give your own written notice to the lender saying you are cancelling the loan. It is best to deliver it in person, and keep a copy for your records.
A payday lender cannot charge a cancellation fee.
Once you cancel the loan in writing and repay any money owing, or return an unused cheque or cash card, the payday lender must give you a receipt to confirm that the loan has been cancelled.
If you agreed to buy insurance on the loan, and the lender paid the premium, you will also need to pay the pro-rated amount of the insurance premium.
Yes. You can repay the full amount of the loan at any time before it is due.
A payday lender is not allowed to charge a fee or penalty for early repayment. If a payday lender charges you a fee for early repayment, you are entitled to have that fee refunded. Contact Service Nova Scotia if you were charged a fee or penalty for early repayment.
If you have not paid back everything you owe by the due date, you and the payday lender can make a deal to extend or renew the loan, as long as you are only charged interest. A payday lender can charge interest on an extended or renewed loan, but cannot add other fees or charges.
A lender cannot:
Contact Service Nova Scotia for more information or to make a complaint.
If you cannot pay back the loan when it is due you are in default. You will be charged interest on the amount you still owe. The interest rate will be the amount specified in your loan agreement for default, up to a maximum of 60%. In addition, you may be charged a default penalty of up to $40.
The payday lender must follow the rules in the Consumer Protection Act and Consumer Creditors' Conduct Act when trying to collect money from you.
A payday lender cannot:
A payday lender may have a collection agency contact you about the debt. Click here for information about dealing with collection agencies.
A payday lender has the right to sue you for the amount you owe, plus interest and any court fees. You should speak to a lawyer if you are being sued.
Last reviewed December 2016
When you buy goods or services from a business online you are entering into a contract. Nova Scotia’s Consumer Protection Act has special rules that apply to these ‘internet sales contracts’, whether you buy online in Nova Scotia or elsewhere. The rules give consumers who shop online certain rights.
When buying online you have a right to:
detailed information about and a copy of the contract
cancel the contract within a certain time and under certain conditions, and
get your money back or have any credit card charges reversed if you cancel the contract.
These rights are discussed in more detail below. This page provides legal information only, not legal advice.
A seller means a person whose business involves selling goods or services online.
Before an internet sales contract is entered into, a seller must give you a very clear opportunity to accept or decline the internet sales contract.
A seller must also give you the following information:
A seller is considered to have given you this information if it is displayed in a clear and understandable way, and you can save or print the information.
The contract must have the information outlined above, as well as your name (or customer number/other identifier) and the date the contract was entered into.
Yes. A seller must give you a copy of the internet sales contract within 15 days of entering into it. A seller can give you a copy by e-mail, fax, regular mail, or in some other way so that it is clear you got a copy.
If you do not get a copy of the contract you can cancel the contract within 30 days of entering into it.
Yes, in certain circumstances:
1. If the seller did not give you the information they are required to provide (outlined above), or did not give you a chance to accept or decline the contract before entering into it, you can cancel the contract at any time up to 7 days after you get a copy of the contract.
2. If you do not get a copy of the contract you can cancel the contract within 30 days of entering into it.
3. You can cancel the contract any time before delivery of the goods or start of services if the contract has a specific delivery or service start date, and
4. You can cancel the contract at any time before the delivery of the goods if there is no delivery or services start date in the contract, and the seller does not deliver the goods or start services within 30 days after the contract was entered into.
For an internet sales contract a seller is still considered to have delivered goods or started services if they try to deliver them:
You can notify the seller in any way that makes it clear you are cancelling the contract. For example, you can cancel the contract in person, by registered mail, telephone, courier, fax or e-mail. It is a good idea to cancel the contract in writing, so that you have a record, and keep a copy to prove it!
Cancelling an internet sales contract means it is as if the contract never existed.
Once a contract is cancelled:
If the seller feels it is unfair for you to cancel the contract (for example, feels that you did not follow the terms of the contract) the seller can take you to court.
a) Reversing a credit card charge
If you paid by credit card and your money is not refunded within 15 days of cancelling the contract, you can ask your credit card company to cancel or reverse the credit card charge. Your request must be in writing, and must include the following information:
Your credit card company may require you to sign a sworn document (affidavit) to prove your request.
Once you provide the required information your credit card company must cancel or reverse the credit card charge, including any interest, within 2 complete billing periods, or 90 days, whichever comes first.
b) If you cancel the contract and don’t get your money back within 15 days, you can take the seller to court. You may want to talk with a lawyer if you are thinking about going to court to try to get your money back.
Nova Scotia’s Consumer Protection Act does not cover internet sales if:
You can contact Service Nova Scotia at 902-424-5200 or 1 800 670-4357, or go to Service Nova Scotia online. Service Nova Scotia administers the Consumer Protection Act, and deals with consumer complaints.
Finally, you’ll find tips for protecting your privacy and avoiding scams when shopping online at:
Reviewed November 30, 2016