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  • Writer's pictureJohn McDonald

Yes you have to pay your sex-worker Sheehan v Samuelson 2023 NSSM 27

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

So like the headline reads this very matter was considered by the Nova Scotia Small Claims Court where the Adjudicator found that yes, failure to pay for sexual services grounds a claim for breach of contract, in this case $1,800.00 dollars.

The Plaintiffs claim was grounded in basic contract law, she provided services of companionship for a pre-determined hourly fee, which added up to $2,100.00, the Defendant eventually paid a total of $300.00

The Defence was routed in whether or not the contract was a legal contract.

This seems to be the first decision of it's kind since the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the previous Criminal Code provisions that made prostitution illegal. (Now it's only illegal to pay for sex, but it's not illegal to sell it which in my mind causes other issues) However in his analysis the Adjudicator found that "it follows that to allow a sex worker to pursue a business and not to allow that worker, as a business enterprise, to have access to a civil claim in contract.. is logically inconsistent. The Adjudicator also noted that even if the contract was illegal, a claim for unjust enrichment might actually survive as an alternate claim.

In any event, this seems to be the first civil-law decision which even asks, let alone answers the question about the enforceability of contracts involving personal services of a sexual nature. See. Jassmine Girgis, “Can the Failure to Pay for Sexual Services Form the Basis of a Contractual Claim?” (29 August 2023), online: ABlawg, and Sheehan v. Samuelson, 2023 NSSM 27 (CanLII), <>, retrieved on 2023-08-28 for more in depth commentary.

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