Please note that right of entry hearings do not involve compensation issues. If an agreement for compensation cannot be reached, either party may apply to the Board to have a hearing to determine the matter.
Board hearings are held in larger centres such as Lloydminster, North Battleford, Kindersley, Regina, Saskatoon and Swift Current.
Attendance and Legal Representation
Most owners and operators attend hearings and provide information and research to support their position. Owners and operators may represent themselves or may choose to have a lawyer accompany them to the hearing. Others provide a written submission, or choose not to attend, the latter of which is not recommended.
The Board follows the practice of removing Board Members if a direct conflict of interest is determined and has done so in numerous cases. The Board takes the review of conflict of interest very seriously to ensure a fair hearing is held and the functions of the Board are carried out.
Section 29(2) and 47(3) of The Surface Rights Acquisition and Compensation Act allows the Board to award to the owner and occupant reasonable costs and expenses incurred by the owner or occupant relating to the hearing with respect to the acquisition of the rights. This applies to both Right of Entry Hearings as well as Compensation Hearings. The owner or occupant should prepare a schedule of their reasonable costs to present to the Board (with a copy to the operator) at the hearing. The Board will consider the costs and may make an award for reasonable costs in the Board Order.
Costs can only be awarded to the owner/occupant as a result of a board hearing and only for right of entry or compensation hearings.
Right of Entry Hearings
These are time sensitive as set out in the legislation, and the Board sets the place and time of such hearings (21 days from the date the Board receives the application). When a landowner receives an application for immediate right of entry, they have seven (7) days (from the date of mailing by the Operator) to object to an entry onto their land. This objection must be made in writing to the Board office (Kindersley, Saskatchewan) stating the reasons why the owner is objecting. This will initiate the hearing process. If no objection is received, the Board will issue the right of entry order as requested. Not receiving or picking up your mail is not an argument to avoid a Right of Entry Application.
Evidence: The Board depends on the evidence presented at the hearing to make its decisions. The following is a guideline of what kind of evidence will be required at a hearing for right of entry onto the land:
Operators: The operator must provide the Board with specific project information including site choice, methods of construction and why the surface rights are required.
Owners: Should the owners object to the right of entry onto their land, they must provide the Board with particulars of their objection, other than compensation. The Board will only hear representations regarding entry onto the land. Compensation matters (if not resolved) are set over to a separate compensation hearing.
Compensation, Damage and Restoration Hearings
These hearings are not time sensitive and are set by the Board in consultation with the owner and/or occupant, as well as the operator. Every effort is made to accommodate all parties. Consideration is given to avoid landowners' seeding and harvest times.
Evidence: The Board relies heavily upon factual evidence presented at the hearing to make its decisions. (The Board will set compensation for value of the land for new leases and/or flowlines/servicelines only. Rental reviews will not have this value calculated.)
The Board bases awards on other factors including loss of use, severance, nuisance, adverse effect, and cumulative effect.
The following is a guideline of what kind of evidence will be required for compensation hearings (rental review or to set compensation on a new lease/flowline/serviceline):
- The soil classification and the municipal assessment of the parcel of land within which the oil installation is located (for new leases/flowline/servicelines only);
- Land sales in the proximity of the land in question (for new leases/flowline/servicelines only) and any pattern of dealings the Owner has with other Operators in the close vicinity;
- The crop rotation, the actual yields from at least the last three years, preferably the last five years (the Board places greater weight on actual sales receipts for all crops grown, as well as crop insurance data and/or verified yield maps);
- Farming equipment (including size) and number of operations, field size and cultivation patterns (detailed illustrations are helpful for farming around installations). Any unique farming methods used by the Owner;
- Any special soil or crop conditions, including proof of any certification such as Organic Grower or Registered Seed Grower; and
- Proposed farming plans and changes in the oil field installation practice (if applicable) since drilled or last reviewed.
- A comprehensive description of oil field equipment on site and any changes in activity;
- Area comparables (within a reasonable distance for installation under review), which should include value of the land, crop loss, severance, adverse nuisance and such other factors as set out in Sections 29 and 47 of The Surface Rights Acquisition and Compensation Act;
- Land sales in the proximity of the land in question (for new leases/flowline/servicelines only);
- Proposed future plans for the site; and
- Expected traffic related to production and maintenance for the sites in question.
Damage, Weed or Restoration Hearings
Owners must supply proof of their claims, including any pictures taken of the damage, weeds or need for further restoration. The Board may require a site inspection.
Note: All evidence presented at the hearings are marked as Exhibits and retained by the Board. Copies should be made prior to the hearing so as to provide one copy to the Board and one copy to the operator or owner, as the case may be.
Please contact the Surface Rights Board of Arbitration at 306-463-5447 or email email@example.com if you have questions or concerns regarding board hearings and procedures.