Murdoch v. Murdoch
was controversial decision by the Supreme Court of Canada
where the Court denied an abused farm wife any interest in the family farm. This case is most notable for the public outcry it created at the time and for what many believe is Bora Laskin
's most famous dissenting opinion.
Irene Murdoch, the wife of an Albertan farmer, submitted a claim for half the interest in the family ranch that was registered under the husband's name. The question put before the Court was whether there was an implied trust
on behalf of the wife for all her years of labour on the farm.
The Court upheld the trial judge's finding that the wife's labour was not beyond what was normally expected of a ranch wife and that since there was no financial contribution thus based on the English case of Gissing v. Gissing
A.C. 886 there could be no resulting trust
In dissent, Laskin J. claimed that the Court did not need to examine intent in order to find a trust; rather a constructive trust
based in equity
could be found.
Laskin's dissent proved to be among his most famous. Many scholars, himself included, believed that his dissent was a major factor in his unexpected promotion to Chief Justice
several years later.
publicized the case across the country. In 1973, Irene Murdoch was paid her claim. It is thought that the case helped bring changes to family law in Canada.<ref... Read More