Case Brief Wiki


Mr. Vavilov was born in Toronto in 1994, his parents were Russian spies and arrested for same and sent back to Russia. V tried to renew his passport but was rejected saying he needed proof of citizenship other than his birth certificate. He obtained a certificate of citizenship and applied again but was still rejected.

V received a letter from the Registrar of Citizenship (who makes the final say on who is a citizen) advising that the certificate he obtained was a mistake and he is not a citizen. This decision was based on the Registrar’s view of the Citizenship Act which stated that while the general rule is that all people born in Canada were citizens, there was an exception for children of a diplomatic or consular officer or other representative or employee in Canada of a foreign government. The Registrar said this applied in V's case as his parents, as spies, were employees in Canada of another foreign government.

Federal government agreed with Registrar’s opinion, V appealed to the Federal Court of Appeal


Do V’s parents, as Russian spies, count as “employees in Canada of a foreign government”, excluding V from Canadian citizenship even though he was born in Canada?


Federal Court of Appeal overturned the Federal Court’s judgment and said it was unreasonable. They found that the Registrar did not justify her view of the law, she did not properly consider lawmaker’s debates, court cases, the text of the Citizenship Act as a whole, and international law. The “exception” to citizenship only applied to families that held diplomatic immunities and were not bound to Canadian laws. V’s parents held no such privileges, so the exception did not apply to V’s case. The court decided, rather than refer the decision back to the Registrar to amend, they made the final decision that V was a Canadian decision as V had already brought these points up to the Registrar and she refused to change her mind.

Rules / Ratio[]

1. The exception rule to Canadian Citizenship in the Citizenship Act only applies to children of parents that hold diplomatic privileges and immunities to Canadian Laws.

2. A court can override an administrative decision when it is made unreasonably and unfairly.