Chameau Exploration Ltd. v. Nova Scotia (Attorney General)

In Salvage and Wrecks on (Updated )

This interesting case concerned attempts to explore what was believed to be the 1812 wreck of a Royal Navy sloop. The case came before the court as an application for judicial review of a decision of the Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Museum. The Director had declined to issue a research permit to explore the wreck under the Nova Scotia Special Places Protection Act. Such a permit was required to carry out any exploration or excavation. The decision to decline the permit was because of a letter received from the British High Commission claiming ownership and sovereign immunity over the wreck as a warship but the applicant was not given the opportunity to make submissions on the British claim. The Court held that this was a breach of procedural fairness and quashed the decision of the Director. The Court did not, however, order that the permit be granted or decide the merits of the British claim. (Note: It is interesting that no challenge seems to have been made to the constitutional validity or applicability of the Special Places Protection Act, a provincial statute. One would think it at least arguable that the provinces have no jurisdiction over wrecks and the exploration and salvage thereof.