The Parental Responsibility Act

This legislation allows the victims of youth crime in Manitoba to recover damages from parents whose children (up to 18 years of age) have been involved in deliberately taking, damaging or destroying property. Victims who wish to obtain damages from these parents must file a claim in Small Claims Court. The Act does not apply to children who are wards of child and family service agencies.

How do you prepare?

To make a claim under The Parental Responsibility Act, you must file a claim in the Small Claims Court, notify the person(s) against whom you are making the claim, and be prepared to present evidence before the Small Claims Court to prove your claim.

In cases where a child has been found guilty of an offence under the Young Offenders Act (YOA), you may obtain a Certificate of Disposition to assist in proving your claim. This is done by making a request for a Certificate of Disposition with the court that made the finding of guilt. The request must be made within the specific time limits set by YOA.

In cases where there has been no finding of guilt under YOA, you may still proceed. You must have reasonable proof that the property was taken, damaged, or destroyed deliberately by a specific child. You will be required to present the evidence necessary to prove your claim to the Court.

You must prove your claim

You will be required to follow the usual procedures followed in Small Claims Court to prove your claim. The Certificate of Disposition will assist you in proving certain parts of your claim. For general information on this process, please contact the court office in your area. Otherwise, you may wish to consult with a lawyer.

Parents will have a defence against your claim if they can prove they exercised reasonable supervision over their child and made reasonable efforts in good faith to prevent the child from causing the property damage. Specific factors that may be considered by the Court include:

  • Whether the parents could have reasonably foreseen the danger arising from the child's conduct.
  • The age of the child.
  • The prior conduct of the child.
  • The potential danger of the activity.
  • The physical or mental capacity of the child.
  • Any psychological or other medical disorders of the child.
  • Whether the parents were responsible for the care and control of the child at the time of the activity.
  • Whether the parents made reasonable arrangements for the supervision of the child while out of the care and control of the parents.
  • Whether the parents have tried to improve their parenting skills.
  • Whether professional assistance has been sought for the child.

What kind of awards can the Court grant?

The Small Claims Court can award damages to a maximum of $10,000. Under The Parental Responsibility Act, the Court may order that payment be made in full before a specific date, or by installment payments by fixed dates. In awarding damages, the Court may take into account any award of restitution made under YOA, where an amount is awarded but is unpaid by the defendant, it may be enforced in the same manner as any judgment of the Small Claims Court.

How are appeals handled?

Both the plaintiff and the defendant have the right to appeal decisions of Small Claims Court hearing officers to a Judge of the Court of King's Bench.

How can I find out more?

If you have any questions, please contact the Small Claims Office at (204) 945-3138 or the St. Boniface Court Office at (204) 945-8010, where service is available in French and English.