Information for Parents

Parent's Responsibility for the Shoplifiting Acts of a Child

Certain major retail stores are sending threatening demand letters to the parents of children arrested for shoplifting. These letters warn parents that if they do not pay an "out of court" settlement, civil action will be commenced against them. Parents are also told that a failure to pay will result in additional expenses for legal costs administration charges and interest.

These letters are apparently designed to frighten parents into paying the sum requested in order to avoid court costs.

These threats have limited basis in law as there is no liability on the parent based solely on the parent/child relationship. In order that a parent be held liable evidence would have to show that the parent was negligent. Therefore, unless it can be established that the parents acted negligently they cannot be held liable for their child's shoplifting acts.

One parent in Manitoba successfully applied to the court to have returned the money they paid in response to a demand letter.

If you receive such a letter and have any questions concerning it, you should contact a lawyer.

General Information About the Law

This booklet provides general information about the law. It does not tell you everything about this area of law. For further information about a legal problem, you should contact a lawyer.

Produced by the Youth Diversion Program, Kingston, Ontario for the purpose of providing information to parents and young people.

For Emergency Help:

  1. Call 911
  2. Go to your local hospital
  3. Call:
    1. Addictions & Mental Health Services KFLA  613-544-4229
    2. Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868
    3. LGBT Youth Line 1-800-268-9688
    4. Detox Centre  613 549-6461

Contact Us

559 Bagot Street
Kingston ON, Canada
K7K 3E1

P: 613-548-4535 ext 224
F: 613-548-1747

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