A Bankrupt Can’t Escape a Judgment for Sexual Assault

Understanding Bankruptcy and Sexual Assault Judgments: A Legal Perspective

The intersection of bankruptcy law and judgments for sexual assault is a complex area in the legal landscape. This article delves into the matter, exploring the premise that a bankrupt cannot escape a judgment for sexual assault. The focus is primarily on Canada, providing a detailed exposition of its legal framework, court rulings, and the social policy considerations behind these laws.

Bankruptcy Law: The Basics

Bankruptcy is a legal process where an individual or entity unable to repay their debts to creditors can seek relief from some or all of their debts. However, not all debts can be wiped out in bankruptcy. For instance, according to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, RSC 1985, c B-3 or the BIA, a debt arising from an award of damages by a court in civil proceedings due to “bodily harm intentionally inflicted, or sexual assault” is not dischargeable.

Exceptions to Bankruptcy Discharge: The Role of Social Policy

These exceptions to discharge reflect the social policy considerations that prioritize a victim’s right to compensation over the bankrupt’s right to be free of debts. This policy decision, as underscored by the ruling in Simone v. Daley (1999) 43 O.R. (3d) 511 (ONCA), indicates that a bankrupt should not be allowed to evade judgment creditors who hold judgments based on reprehensible conduct.

Sexual Assault and Bankruptcy: An Immovable Debt

The BIA specifically mentions sexual assault as an exception to discharge. This is a significant provision, as it prevents a person who has filed for bankruptcy from avoiding financial responsibility for their actions if they are found guilty of committing this crime. This explicit exemption reiterates the gravity of sexual assault and the importance of ensuring justice for victims.

Unpacking the “Bodily Harm Intentionally Inflicted” Clause

The Ontario Court of Appeal, in Dickerson v. 1610396 Ontario Inc. (2013 ONCA 653), interpreted the “bodily harm intentionally inflicted” clause in section 178(1)(a.1)(i) of the BIA. The court ruled that the clause applies either where there is direct proof of intentional infliction of harm or where such intent can be reasonably inferred from the facts.

Dealing with Unexpected Consequences

However, the specific intent to injure has been found lacking in cases where intentional acts have unexpected consequences, such as psychological injuries resulting in physical symptoms. Notably, a claim for malicious prosecution against a bankrupt causing mental suffering that manifested into physical symptoms was held not to fall within section 178(1)(a.1)(i) because “the action giving rise to the harm must have had the harm itself as its goal”: Floros v. Mueller, 2003 SKQB 513.

Addressing Defamation Cases

In defamation cases, the court has ruled differently. For instance, in Marshall, Re, 2001 CanLII 28287 (ON SC), the victim suffered dizziness and vertigo as a result of defamation. However, the court found that the bankrupt had not intentionally inflicted bodily harm on the victim.

The Importance of Legal Representation

Given the intricate nature of this legal area, it is vital to consult with seasoned sexual assault lawyers. These professionals can provide expert advice, helping victims navigate through the complex path of recovery and justice.

The Canadian Perspective

Canada’s legal framework reflects a commitment to ensuring justice for victims of sexual assault. The country’s bankruptcy laws are designed to prevent individuals from evading their financial responsibilities for harmful actions. This commitment is particularly evident in cases involving sexual assault, where the laws explicitly prevent a bankrupt person from escaping a judgment.


In conclusion, despite the often complex and confusing intersection of bankruptcy and sexual assault law, one thing remains clear: in Canada, a bankrupt cannot escape a judgment for sexual assault. This legal position is rooted in social policy considerations that prioritize the rights of victims, underlining the necessity for justice and accountability.

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