The public policy rule prevents a beneficiary from collecting the proceeds of a life insurance policy where the beneficiary caused the death of the insured, but was found not criminally responsible by reason of a mental disorder.

[2011] O.J. No. 2750

2011 ONSC 3741

Ontario Superior Court of Justice

A. Pollak J.

June 16, 2011

The insured applicant brought an application claiming the proceeds of a life insurance policy on his deceased ex-wife.The applicant had been charged with second degree murder of his ex-wife and had been found not criminally responsible by reason of a mental disorder.The applicant’s son had applied on behalf of the deceased’s estate to have the insurance proceeds paid into Court.He challenged the insurance payment to the applicant on the basis of the public policy rule that a person who wrongfully kills another will not be allowed to enjoy profit resulting from the act of killing.

At issue was whether the public policy rule applied, even if the applicant did not have the intention to kill his ex-wife, which was demonstrated by the finding that he was not criminally responsible by reason of a mental disorder.The Court found that the Canadian case law was clear and the fact the applicant physically committed the crime satisfied the public policy rule even though he had been found not criminally responsible by reason of a mental disorder.The Court found that there was no judicial support in Canada for the applicant’s submission that the Court ought to require a finding of intent to commit the crime in order to apply the public policy rule.

In the result, the Court found that the applicant was disentitled from receiving the insurance proceeds and dismissed the application to have the proceeds paid out of Court.