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Specific Claims Tribunal Act (S.C. 2008, c. 22)

Act current to 2024-06-19 and last amended on 2022-06-23. Previous Versions

Specific Claims Tribunal Act

S.C. 2008, c. 22

Assented to 2008-06-18

An Act to establish the Specific Claims Tribunal and to make consequential amendments to other Acts


Recognizing that

it is in the interests of all Canadians that the specific claims of First Nations be addressed;

resolving specific claims will promote reconciliation between First Nations and the Crown and the development and self-sufficiency of First Nations;

there is a need to establish an independent tribunal that can resolve specific claims and is designed to respond to the distinctive task of adjudicating such claims in accordance with law and in a just and timely manner;

the right of First Nations to choose and have access to a specific claims tribunal will create conditions that are appropriate for resolving valid claims through negotiations;

the Assembly of First Nations and the Government of Canada have worked together on a legislative proposal from the Government of Canada culminating in the introduction of this Act;

Now, therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

Short Title

Marginal note:Short title

 This Act may be cited as the Specific Claims Tribunal Act.


Marginal note:Definitions

 The following definitions apply in this Act.


asset means tangible property. (élément d’actif)


claimant means a First Nation whose specific claim has been filed with the Tribunal. (revendicateur)

claim limit

claim limit means the maximum amount under paragraph 20(1)(b). (indemnité maximale)


Crown means Her Majesty in right of Canada. (Sa Majesté)

First Nation

First Nation means

  • (a) a band as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Indian Act;

  • (b) a group of persons that was, but is no longer, a band within the meaning of paragraph (a) and that has, under a land claims agreement, retained the right to bring a specific claim; and

  • (c) a group of persons that was a band within the meaning of paragraph (a), that is no longer a band by virtue of an Act or agreement mentioned in the schedule and that has not released its right to bring a specific claim. (première nation)

land claims agreement

land claims agreement has the same meaning as in subsection 35(3) of the Constitution Act, 1982. (accord sur des revendications territoriales)


Minister means the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations. (ministre)


party, in respect of a specific claim, means any claimant, the Crown or any province or First Nation added as a party under section 23 or 24. (partie)

specific claim

specific claim means a claim that is filed under section 14. (revendication particulière)


Tribunal means the Specific Claims Tribunal established by subsection 6(1). (Tribunal)

Purpose and Application of Act

Marginal note:Purpose

 The purpose of this Act is to establish the Specific Claims Tribunal, the mandate of which is to decide issues of validity and compensation relating to specific claims of First Nations.

Marginal note:Inconsistency or conflict

 In the event of any inconsistency or conflict between this Act and any other Act of Parliament, this Act prevails to the extent of the inconsistency or conflict.

Marginal note:Application

 This Act affects the rights of a First Nation only if the First Nation chooses to file a specific claim with the Tribunal and only to the extent that this Act expressly provides.

Specific Claims Tribunal


Marginal note:Tribunal

  •  (1) A tribunal to be known as the Specific Claims Tribunal is established.

  • Marginal note:Establishment of roster

    (2) The Governor in Council shall establish a roster of 6 to 18 superior court judges to act as members of the Tribunal.

  • Marginal note:Chairperson and other members

    (3) The Chairperson and other members shall be appointed from the roster referred to in subsection (2) by the Governor in Council.

  • Marginal note:Membership

    (4) The Tribunal shall consist of

    • (a) no more than six full-time members; or

    • (b) any number of part-time members, or combination of full-time and part-time members, so long as the combined time devoted to their functions and duties does not exceed the combined time that would be devoted by six full-time members.

Marginal note:Tenure

  •  (1) Each member shall be appointed for a term not exceeding five years and holds office so long as he or she remains a superior court judge.

  • Marginal note:Reappointment of members

    (2) Each member, on the expiry of the first term of office, is eligible to be reappointed for one further term.

Marginal note:Role of Chairperson

  •  (1) The Chairperson has supervision over and direction of the work of the Tribunal, including

    • (a) the allocation of work among the members and the assignment of members to preside at hearings of the Tribunal; and

    • (b) the performance of the functions and duties of the Tribunal.

  • Marginal note:Powers of Chairperson

    (2) On application by a party, the Chairperson may order that

    • (a) specific claims be heard together or consecutively if they have issues of law or fact in common;

    • (b) a specific claim is, together with any other specific claim, subject to one claim limit under subsection 20(4); and

    • (c) specific claims be decided together if decisions with respect to the claims could be irreconcilable or if the claims are subject to one claim limit.

  • Marginal note:Absence or incapacity

    (3) If the office of Chairperson is vacant, or the Chairperson is absent or is for any reason unable to act, the powers of the Chairperson shall be exercised and the duties performed by the member who is the senior judge and is able and willing to act.

Marginal note:Acting after termination of appointment

  •  (1) Subject to subsection (2), a judge who has ceased to be a member, for any reason other than removal, may, with the authorization of the Chairperson, perform and complete any functions or duties that they would otherwise have had if they had not ceased to be a member and that are in connection with any matter in which that judge became engaged while holding office as a member, and a judge so authorized is, for that purpose, deemed to be a member of the Tribunal.

  • Marginal note:Limitation period

    (2) No judge who has ceased to be a member may, after the expiry of 120 days after ceasing to be a member, take part in the disposition of any matter under the authority granted by the Chairperson under subsection (1).

 [Repealed, 2014, c. 20, s. 469]

Functions, Powers and Duties

Marginal note:Functions

  •  (1) The Tribunal is responsible for holding hearings to decide the validity of specific claims and any compensation arising from those claims.

  • Marginal note:Hearings

    (2) A hearing before the Tribunal shall be held before a single member.

  • Marginal note:Decision

    (3) A decision of a member of the Tribunal is a decision of the Tribunal.

Marginal note:Rules of the Tribunal

  •  (1) A committee of no more than six Tribunal members, appointed by the Chairperson, may make general rules for carrying out the work of the Tribunal and the management of its internal affairs, as well as rules governing its practice and procedures, including rules governing

    • (a) the giving of notice;

    • (b) the presentation of the positions of the parties with respect to issues before the Tribunal and of matters of fact or law on which the parties rely in support of their positions;

    • (c) the summoning of witnesses;

    • (d) the production and service of documents;

    • (e) applications;

    • (f) discovery proceedings;

    • (g) the taking and preservation of evidence before the start of a hearing;

    • (h) case management, including pre-hearing conferences and the use of mediation;

    • (i) the introduction of evidence;

    • (j) the imposition of time limits; and

    • (k) costs.

  • Marginal note:Advisory committee

    (2) The committee referred to in subsection (1) may establish an advisory committee of interested parties to advise it in the development of the Tribunal’s rules of practice and procedure, including efficiencies.

  • Marginal note:Rules respecting costs

    (3) The Tribunal’s rules respecting costs shall accord with the rules of the Federal Court, with any modifications that the Tribunal considers appropriate.

  • Marginal note:Publication of rules

    (4) The Tribunal shall make its rules available to the public and, if possible, publish them in the First Nations Gazette.

  • Marginal note:Effect of failure to publish

    (5) Failure to publish the rules in the First Nations Gazette does not affect the validity of the rules.

  • 2008, c. 22, s. 12
  • 2014, c. 20, s. 470

Marginal note:Powers of the Tribunal

  •  (1) The Tribunal has, with respect to the attendance, swearing and examination of witnesses, the production and inspection of documents, the enforcement of its orders and other matters necessary or proper for the due exercise of its jurisdiction, all the powers, rights and privileges that are vested in a superior court of record and may

    • (a) determine any questions of law or fact in relation to any matter within its jurisdiction under this Act;

    • (b) receive and accept any evidence, including oral history, and other information, whether on oath or by affidavit or otherwise, that it sees fit, whether or not that evidence or information is or would be admissible in a court of law, unless it would be inadmissible in a court by reason of any privilege under the law of evidence;

    • (c) take into consideration cultural diversity in developing and applying its rules of practice and procedure; and

    • (d) award costs in accordance with its rules of practice and procedure.

  • Marginal note:Costs

    (2) The Tribunal shall deduct from any award of costs in favour of the claimant, any amount provided to the claimant by the Crown for the purpose of bringing the claim before the Tribunal.

Specific Claims

Marginal note:Grounds of a specific claim

  •  (1) Subject to sections 15 and 16, a First Nation may file with the Tribunal a claim based on any of the following grounds, for compensation for its losses arising from those grounds:

    • (a) a failure to fulfil a legal obligation of the Crown to provide lands or other assets under a treaty or another agreement between the First Nation and the Crown;

    • (b) a breach of a legal obligation of the Crown under the Indian Act or any other legislation — pertaining to Indians or lands reserved for Indians — of Canada or of a colony of Great Britain of which at least some portion now forms part of Canada;

    • (c) a breach of a legal obligation arising from the Crown’s provision or non-provision of reserve lands, including unilateral undertakings that give rise to a fiduciary obligation at law, or its administration of reserve lands, Indian moneys or other assets of the First Nation;

    • (d) an illegal lease or disposition by the Crown of reserve lands;

    • (e) a failure to provide adequate compensation for reserve lands taken or damaged by the Crown or any of its agencies under legal authority; or

    • (f) fraud by employees or agents of the Crown in connection with the acquisition, leasing or disposition of reserve lands.

  • Marginal note:Extended meaning of Crown — obligations

    (2) For the purpose of applying paragraphs (1)(a) to (c) in respect of any legal obligation that was to be performed in an area within Canada’s present boundaries before that area became part of Canada, a reference to the Crown includes the Sovereign of Great Britain and its colonies to the extent that the legal obligation or any liability relating to its breach or non-fulfilment became — or would, apart from any rule or doctrine that had the effect of limiting claims or prescribing rights against the Crown because of passage of time or delay, have become — the responsibility of the Crown in right of Canada.

  • Marginal note:Extended meaning of Crown — illegal lease or disposition

    (3) For the purpose of applying paragraph (1)(d) in respect of an illegal lease or disposition of reserve land located in an area within Canada’s present boundaries before that area became part of Canada, a reference to the Crown includes the Sovereign of Great Britain and its colonies to the extent that liability for the illegal lease or disposition became — or would, apart from any rule or doctrine that had the effect of limiting claims or prescribing rights against the Crown because of passage of time or delay, have become — the responsibility of the Crown in right of Canada.

  • Marginal note:Extended meaning of Crown — other

    (4) For the purpose of applying paragraphs (1)(e) and (f) in respect of reserve lands located in an area within Canada’s present boundaries, a reference to the Crown includes the Sovereign of Great Britain and its colonies for the period before that area became part of Canada.

Marginal note:Exceptions

  •  (1) A First Nation may not file with the Tribunal a claim that

    • (a) is based on events that occurred within the 15 years immediately preceding the date on which the claim was filed with the Minister;

    • (b) is based on a land claims agreement entered into after December 31, 1973, or any related agreement or Act of Parliament;

    • (c) is based on an Act of Parliament or agreement that is mentioned in the schedule, or an Act of Parliament or agreement for the implementation of such an Act or agreement;

    • (d) concerns the delivery or funding of programs or services related to policing, regulatory enforcement, corrections, education, health, child protection or social assistance, or of any similar programs or services;

    • (e) is based on any agreement between the First Nation and the Crown that provides for another mechanism for the resolution of disputes arising from the agreement;

    • (f) is based on, or alleges, aboriginal rights or title; or

    • (g) is based on treaty rights related to activities of an ongoing and variable nature, such as harvesting rights.

  • Marginal note:Limitation

    (2) Nothing in paragraph (1)(g) prevents a claim that is based on a treaty right to lands or to assets to be used for activities, such as ammunition to be used for hunting or plows to be used for cultivation, from being filed.

  • Marginal note:When other proceedings

    (3) A First Nation may not file a claim if

    • (a) there are proceedings before a court or tribunal other than the Tribunal that relate to the same land or other assets and could result in a decision irreconcilable with that of the claim, or that are based on the same or substantially the same facts;

    • (b) the First Nation and the Crown are parties to those proceedings; and

    • (c) the proceedings have not been adjourned.

  • Marginal note:Restrictions

    (4) A First Nation may not file a claim if

    • (a) it is not claiming any compensation;

    • (b) it is claiming any remedy other than monetary compensation; or

    • (c) the amount of its claim exceeds the claim limit.


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