Unincorporated Association

From Riverview Legal Group

Varjacic v. Radoja, 2018 ONSC 1650 (CanLII)[1]

[9] The unincorporated Association is not a legal entity. It cannot sue or be sued. Natasha Varjacic has an interest as a member of the Association and as a person who paid $20,000 worth of property tax out of her own pocket, but she is not a party. If she has not yet decided to join the litigation as a party, no one else can sue for her.

[10] The incorporated Association is a legal entity but it has no interest in the litigation. It has no connection to the property. Members of the corporation may have an interest as members of the Association, but their interest is not the corporation’s. See Polish National Catholic Church of Canada v. Polish National Catholic Church, [2014] O.J. No. 3750[2] (SCJ, Archibald J.). In the Polish Church case, the corporate plaintiff was a member of the unincorporated defendant. The situation is even more pronounced here. The corporation came into being as a result of the dispute, and at least in part it seems to me for the purpose of protecting the complaining members from exposure to costs.

[11] Accordingly, I make the following orders:

a. The unincorporated Association’s motion is dismissed.
b. The corporate Association’s Application in 15-55465 is dismissed.
c. All proceedings in these three files for or against the unincorporated Association and the corporate Association are dismissed.

[1] [2]

Public Service Alliance of Canada v. Canada (Attorney General), 2002 CanLII 19258 (ON CA)[3]

[22] In Berry v. Pulley[4], the Supreme Court reviewed the historical development of the legal status of trade unions beginning with the general rule at common law that, as unincorporated associations, unions had no legal status. It then surveyed the relevant jurisprudence from Taff Vale, supra, and the early Canadian case of Orchard v. Tunney, [1957] S.C.R. 436, 1957 CanLII 57 (SCC), 8 D.L.R. (2d) 273[5], which declined to fully adopt the reasoning in Taff Vale, to later cases which did use the Taff Vale approach, such as the Nipissing case I have referred to. The Supreme Court went on to canvass the legislation that, over time, has progressively accorded greater statutory rights to unions. It noted that every provincial legislature and the federal parliament have all passed labour legislation and, while these enactments differ in various respects, they all must be taken to acknowledge, in varying degrees, the legal status of trade unions. The Supreme Court concludes its general analysis, at para. 46 as follows:

As the above cases and statutory provisions suggest, the world of labour relations in Canada has evolved considerably since the decision of this Court in Orchard, supra. We now have a sophisticated statutory regime under which trade unions are recognized as entities with significant rights and obligations. As part of this gradual evolution the view has emerged that, by conferring these rights and obligations on trade unions, legislatures have intended, absent express legislative provisions to the contrary, to bestow on these entities the legal status to sue and be sued in their own name. As such, unions are legal entities at least for the purpose of discharging their function and performing their role in the field of labour relations.

[3] [4] [5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Varjacic v. Radoja, 2018 ONSC 1650 (CanLII), <http://canlii.ca/t/hqxsj>, retrieved on 2020-09-22
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Polish National Catholic Church of Canada v. Polish National Catholic Church and Anthony A. Mikovsky, 2014 ONSC 4501 (CanLII), <http://canlii.ca/t/g8lnx>, retrieved on 2020-09-22
  3. 3.0 3.1 Public Service Alliance of Canada v. Canada (Attorney General), 2002 CanLII 19258 (ON CA), <http://canlii.ca/t/1cck0>, retrieved on 2020-09-22
  4. 4.0 4.1 Berry v. Pulley, 2002 SCC 40 (CanLII), [2002] 2 SCR 493, <http://canlii.ca/t/51s2>, retrieved on 2020-09-22
  5. 5.0 5.1 Orchard v. Tunney, 1957 CanLII 57 (SCC), [1957] SCR 436, <http://canlii.ca/t/22tms>, retrieved on 2020-09-22