Expropriation can be a disruptive and stressful process. We take the burden away from the property owner.

Expropriation can be a difficult, stressful and often timely process for property owners. Our lawyers have handled many expropriation cases acting on behalf of land owners, farm owners and businesses. Located in Halifax – Dartmouth, our lawyers have represented clients across Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada. The expropriation of land is a legal right vested in all levels of government, government agencies and public utility companies for a purpose deemed to be of public interest. Expropriation happens for a number of different reasons including but not limited to the widening of roadways, highway construction, transportation systems, provincial infrastructure and oil and gas pipelines.

Given that the expropriating authority has significantly more power and is likely well versed in the expropriation process they must follow expropriation legislation. This legislation provides protection for the property owner. The Expropriation Act provides that every person whose land is expropriated shall be compensated.

Knowing Your Legal Rights

As a property owner your rights include:

  • Being notified that your property may be expropriated;
  • The ability to challenge the valuation of your property;
  • Your legal fees and costs are almost always paid for from the expropriating authority, and;
  • Having legal representation from the commencement of the process.

Prior to taking possession of the property, the expropriating authority must provide the property owner with documentation effecting expropriation, an offer of an amount for full compensation of the owner’s interests and a copy of the appraisal report on which amount of compensation was determined.


A business that is located on expropriated land will receive compensation for business losses resulting from the relocation of the business. Generally, business losses will not be determined until the business has moved and is in operation for twelve months or until a three-year period has elapsed from the date of expropriation.

How We Can Help

Our team is knowledgeable in land expropriation and we represent and protect the rights of our clients. For those facing expropriation or the prospect of expropriation, we provide legal representation throughout the negotiation process to ensure you are fairly compensated.

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What is expropriation?

Expropriation is the process of a statutorily authorized body taking private land and/or family homes for a purposed deemed to be of public interest. Public interest often includes but is not limited to the widening of roadways, highway construction, transportation systems, provincial infrastructure and oil and gas pipelines.

How much will it cost me?

Subject to some limitations, the property owner’s legal costs are generally indemnified by the expropriating body. These costs include legal fees and disbursements and expert fees.

Who has the power to expropriate land?

The Crown, Provinces, Municipalities, Towns and Public Utilities all have statutory power to expropriate land.

Who determines the level of compensation?

An expropriating authority may make an offer to the property owner for a value they believe is comparable to the owner’s interests.

What if the expropriating authority and property owner cannot agree on compensation?

In the event that the parties cannot come to an agreement regarding the level of compensation to be paid for the interest in the land, both the expropriating authority and property owner can serve a Notice of Negotiation on the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board to determine the amount of compensation.

What if the offer is lower?

Where the Board determines compensation to be more than what was offered by the expropriating body, the expropriating body shall pay the private owner's costs as determined by the Board.

What if I decline the expropriating authority’s offer?

Nova Scotia legislation provides that the expropriating body can make a statutory offer. Should the private owner decline the statutory offer and does not achieve a better result upon determination by the Board, the private owner’s entitlement to costs is determined by the Board.

How does the Board determine the amount?

Compensation payable to the private owner is the aggregate of the market value of the land or home, the damages for injurious affect, the value to the owner of any special economic advantage arises out
of their occupation of the land and the reasonable costs, expenses and losses resulting from the private owner's disturbance.

When is a real property appraiser used?

If the value of the land is in issue, a professional real estate appraiser is used to provide an opinion outlining the value of the land to be expropriated. The opinion is then presented to the Board as evidence at the hearing. When assessing the value of the land/home, the Board has discretion as to whether or not they follow the opinion of the appraiser to determine the level of compensation to be granted.