Friday, January 16, 2015

Bourgoin v. La Compagnie du chemin de fer de Montreal

The constitutional issue in Bourgoin was whether a federally-regulated railway could sell itself to a provincial government without the authorization of a federal statute.

The answer was "no."

This result turns a lot on the way that 19th century corporate law differs from that of the present-day. Old-time corporations did not just get the civil rights of persons (which would include selling assets to other persons). They also had to act in accordance with their authorized purposes. Naturally, if the railway was federally-regulated, these purposes had to be provided for by federal statute.