he Islamic Republic of Iran has been served, almost eight months after the fact.
The federal government confirmed to lawyers recently that it delivered two class-action lawsuits to Tehran’s foreign affairs ministry, clearing a roadblock for the civil suits over January’s airliner shoot-down to move ahead in Canadian courts.
The actions were filed in January soon after the crash of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752, and Ottawa was legally obliged to serve them on Iran, a defendant in both cases.
The delay in doing so triggered speculation that Canada was embroiled in talks to revive diplomatic relations with Tehran, and didn’t want to ruffle feathers by presenting the legal claims.
But after the lawyer spearheading one of the suits, Mark Arnold, complained in court about the delay, a federal government representative said logistical factors related to COVID-19 — not politics — had made the process difficult.
For now, the lawsuits are proceeding separately from that process.
The plane crashed outside Tehran on Jan. 8, killing 176 passengers and crew in what was a largely Canadian tragedy. The victims included 55 citizens of this country and 30 permanent residents, among 138 passengers heading to Canada via Kyiv, many of them students returning after the Christmas break.
Arnold’s alleges the downing of the plane was an act of terrorism. The suit headed by Arndt accuses Iran of negligence.
Ontario law requires the federal government to serve a civil lawsuit on a foreign state if it’s named as a defendant.
As Ottawa was struggling to find a way to do that, Arnold said he used process servers, courier companies and email to serve the individual defendants named in his suit, ranging from senior officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The law firm emailed a copy of the suit to Khamenei, and received an acknowledgement in response, he said.
Service was also carried out at Iranian missions in Australia and the U.K., said Arnold.
Meanwhile, a hearing in October on “carriage” will likely choose one of the law firms to move ahead in charge of a single class action, the lawyer said.