Municipal Liability for Building Permits and Inspections


Revised 2005

At one time, municipalities enjoyed immunity from liability under the old common law principle, “the crown can do no wrong”. The immunity eroded over the years and was greatly diminished by a series of British and Canadian court decisions in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Some protections remain, however. Canadian municipalities still do not have a liability exposure as great as Canadian citizens and other legal “persons” such as business corporations.

The purpose of this paper is to give the reader an overview of municipal responsibility and protection for building permits and inspections. A comprehensive exploration of this topic would fill several books and is well beyond the scope of this paper. The reader is therefore cautioned to use this paper only as a general guideline.