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Category Archives: Case Comments

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Insureds Score a Big Win at the SCC

Posted in Case Comments, Contracts, Insurance

Policyholders recently won a key victory at the Supreme Court of Canada in Ledcor Construction Ltd. v. Northbridge Indemnity Insurance Co. as the Supreme Court clarified the interpretation of a standard form faulty workmanship exclusion clause common in builder’s risk policies.  The decision has wide-reaching significance to other insurance coverage disputes and to contract law generally.

The Supreme Court confirmed that only the cost to redo the faulty work is precluded from coverage by such an exclusion. Builder’s risk, or “course of construction” insurance policies seek to insure against certain defined risks which may occur during the construction process. Such … Continue Reading

The Supreme Court of Canada rules that Québec’s farm income stabilization program is not an insurance contract subject to public law rules

Posted in Administrative, Case Comments, Contracts, Supreme Court of Canada

Overview

Two companion decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada were recently released in cases included on our Appeals to Watch in 2016 list, Ferme Vi-Ber inc. v. Financière agricole du Québec, 2016 SCC 34, and Lafortune v. Financière agricole du Québec, 2016 SCC 35.

Both cases involved the interpretation of the same Québec farm producer income stabilization program (the “ASRA Program”) administered by La Financière agricole du Québec (“La Financière), a statutory authority. The appeals focused on whether the ASRA Program should be governed by public administrative law principles or the private rules of contract law.… Continue Reading

Ontario Court of Appeal Implies New Prohibition Into Rules of Civil Procedure: Pre-Trial Conference Judges Cannot Decide Summary Judgment Motions in the Same Action

Posted in Case Comments, Procedure

The purpose of a pre-trial conference is to provide parties with a forum to obtain an appraisal from a judge of their respective positions on the outstanding issues between them, and provide an opportunity to openly negotiate a resolution of these issues. The ability of the parties to speak freely without concern that their positions in the litigation will be prejudiced is protected by Rules 50.09 and 50.10 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, which provide that (i) the statements made at a pre-trial conference cannot be used in the proceedings, and (ii) the pre-trial conference judge cannot preside … Continue Reading

Is There a Duty to Renegotiate Contracts in Cases of Hardship?

Posted in Case Comments, Contracts

In Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Ltd c Hydro-Québec, 2016 QCCA 1229 (English translation here), the Quebec Court of Appeal seemed to contemplate that there may exist a duty to renegotiate a long-term contract where unforeseen circumstances arise which amount to hardship; however, the Court found the facts of the case did not give rise to such a situation so there could be no obligation to renegotiate the contract at issue.

The dispute related to a power contract signed in 1969 between Hydro-Québec and the Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited (“CFLCo”) whereby CFLCo agreed to supply, and … Continue Reading

Where the Charter Ends: Supreme Court Will Not Hear Appeal on International Cooperation by Securities Regulators

Posted in Case Comments, Charter of Rights, Criminal, International rights, Securities

If there’s one thing that most non-lawyers know about being questioned by the authorities, it’s that “anything said can and will be used against [you] in court”.[1] And, if you’re already in court, then you can “take the Fifth” and refuse to answer a question whose answer may incriminate you.

Right? Not quite.

The privilege against self-incrimination operates differently in Canada than it does in the United States. Here, there is no “Fifth” for a witness to “take”. Unlike the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not permit a witness to answer … Continue Reading

Whose Courtroom Is It Anyway – The Latest Instalment of Groia v The Law Society of Upper Canada

Posted in Administrative, Case Comments, Charter of Rights, Constitutional, Professions

In a decision of interest to barristers, the Ontario Court of Appeal held that the Law Society of Upper Canada is entitled to deference when regulating a lawyer’s in-court conduct in Groia v The Law Society of Upper Canada, 2016 ONCA 471 (“Groia”). The Court of Appeal affirmed the Law Society’s holding that it is professional misconduct to make allegations of prosecutorial misconduct or that impugn the integrity of opposing counsel, unless the allegations are made in good faith and with a reasonable basis.

Facts

Joseph Groia defended John Felderhof against securities charges brought by the Ontario … Continue Reading

The Supreme Court Protects Accounting Records of Lawyers from the CRA

Posted in Case Comments, Charter of Rights, Privacy, Quebec Court of Appeal, Solicitor-Client Privilege, Tax

Solicitor-client privilege is nearly sacrosanct in Canada. The circumstances in which it can be breached are limited and specific. Courts will not abide attempts by the Government to do away with privilege for expediency’s sake or overreach when limiting the application of the privilege. This was recently reinforced by the Supreme Court of Canada in two decisions that considered the CRA’s powers to compel information from lawyers and notaries: Canada (Attorney General) v. Chambre des notaires du Quebec and Canada (National Revenue) v. Thompson.… Continue Reading

R. v. Jordan – The Supreme Court of Canada Dramatically Alters the Framework Applicable to the Right to a Criminal Trial Within a Reasonable Time

Posted in Case Comments, Criminal

For decades members of the judiciary have publicly raised concerns about the swelling length and complexity of criminal cases. In October 2005, Justice Michael Moldaver, then of the Ontario Court of Appeal, stated:

Am I worried? You bet I am. Long criminal trials are a cancer on our criminal justice system and they pose a threat to its very existence. You see, ladies and gentlemen, if the criminal justice system does not enjoy the support and respect of those whom it is meant to serve; if criminal trials are seen by the public as little more than interminable games; if

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Right Back Where You Came From: Does the law of your birthplace govern your estate without you even knowing it?

Posted in Case Comments, Conflict of Laws

If an individual is born in Alberta, lives and works in BC for more than a decade, then lives and works in Saskatchewan for more than a decade, then moves back to BC temporarily, while simultaneously searching for a residence in Costa Rica, where is this person domiciled?

If you answered Saskatchewan (where the individual had lived and worked for the past decade), British Columbia (where the individual was currently laying his head), or Costa Rica (where the person intended to live and work for the remainder of his days), your common sense has indeed betrayed you. The answer is … Continue Reading

When is a Settlement Agreement Reached? Federal Court of Appeal Provides Guidance in Apotex Inc v Allergan Inc, 2016 FCA 155

Posted in Case Comments, Intellectual Property

In today’s litigation landscape 95% to 97% of all civil cases are settled without a trial.[1] Settlement negotiations increasingly happen informally, over email, through a back-and-forth dialogue between counsel. What happens when one party steadfastly believes a settlement was reached and moves to enforce that settlement and the other party disagrees? This was the situation before the Federal Court of Appeal in Apotex Inc v Allergan Inc, where a collection of “without prejudice” letters and emails formed the basis for Allergan Inc (“Allergan”) to argue that Apotex Inc (“Apotex”) had agreed to settle a patent … Continue Reading

Suing the Provincial Crown in the Federal Court: The Federal Court of Appeal Upholds Attornment Clause in First Nations Settlement Agreement against Saskatchewan

Posted in Aboriginal, Case Comments

In an important decision regarding the jurisdiction of the Federal Court in aboriginal claims, the Federal Court of Appeal has affirmed the right of the Pasqua First Nation to sue the Government of Saskatchewan in the Federal Court for breach of a settlement agreement on the basis of an attornment clause.  In Canada v Peigan, 2016 FCA 133,[1] Saskatchewan argued that notwithstanding the attornment clause, which directed that any disputes arising under the settlement agreement be determined by the Federal Court, it was immune from suit in the Federal Court and, alternatively, that the suit did not fall within … Continue Reading

Quebec Court of Appeal holds Aboriginal tax exemption not an exemption from remitting tax

Posted in Aboriginal, Case Comments, Tax

In Rice v. Agence du revenu du Québec, 2016 QCCA 666, the Quebec Court of Appeal addressed arguments by status Indians that they should be exempt from the obligation to collect and remit gas taxes which are collected by the Agence du revenu du Quebec (“ARQ”) on behalf of both the province and the federal government.  In doing so, the Court made it clear that status Indians who sell goods to non-Indian consumers cannot avoid the administrative burden of collecting and remitting taxes from their customers who are not exempt from taxation.… Continue Reading

Do What You Say, Not Just What You Write: Subsequent Oral Amendments to Written Contracts

Posted in Case Comments, Civil Litigation, Contracts

Globe Motors, Inc. & Ors v. TRW Lucas Varity Electric Steering Ltd. & Anor, [2016] EWCA Civ. 396 is the latest statement of the England and Wales Court of Appeal with respect to whether parties can make an oral amendment to a contract, notwithstanding a clause requiring any amendment to be in writing (an “anti-oral amendment” clause).… Continue Reading

Québec Court of Appeal to hear its first case on the scope of lobbying legislation

Posted in Case Comments, Civil Litigation, Lobbying law

The Québec Court of Appeal recently granted leave to appeal from Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales c. Cliche, 2016 QCCS 1288. To our knowledge, it is the first time the Court of Appeal agrees to rule on the scope of the Québec Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Act (“LTEA”).

Cliche, a windfarm business’ executive, was charged under the LTEA for failing to register as a lobbyist after he asked municipal officials to endorse his employer’s bid to a third party’s RFP and to champion the project before environmental regulators. The endorsement was meant to demonstrate the Continue Reading

Is your Clearly Descriptive Place of Origin Mark Distinctive? Prove it!

Posted in Case Comments, Civil Litigation, Trade-mark

The Federal Court of Appeal recently clarified the applicable test for challenging a trade-mark that is clearly descriptive of a good’s place of origin, pursuant to s. 12(1)(b) of the Trade-marks Act, RSC 1985, c. T-13 (the “Act”). The Court also articulated how such a trade-mark could still be ruled distinctive, and, accordingly valid: good old fashioned proof!

The context for the decision in MC Imports Inc. v. AFOD Ltd., 2016 FCA 60 [1] was a dispute between two importer-distributors of bagoong, a fish and shrimp based condiment from the Philippines.… Continue Reading

Ontario Court of Appeal Recognizes Potential Liability of the Corporate Parent of a Franchisor Under the Duty of Good Faith

Posted in Case Comments, Civil Litigation, Franchise and Distribution

On May 3rd, 2016, the Court of Appeal for Ontario (the “OCA”) overturned a decision of the Ontario Superior Court which had held that a franchisor’s parent company could never be liable to a franchisee of its subsidiary for breach of the duty of good faith under the Arthur Wishart Act (the “Act”).… Continue Reading

Certification of an “Uncommon” Class Action based on a “Central Commonality”

Posted in Case Comments, Class Actions

The Ontario Court of Appeal recently reiterated several key principles in the context of class action certification motions. In Good v Toronto Police Services Board, 2016 ONCA 250 [Good], the Court of Appeal upheld the Divisional Court decision to certify the claim of Ms. Sherry Good as representative plaintiff (the “Representative Plaintiff”) in the proposed G20 class action against the Toronto Police Services Board (the “TPS”). The decision in Good reminds us of two very important considerations in class action proceedings:… Continue Reading

Standard of review of administrative action: coherence post-Dunsmuir?

Posted in Administrative, Case Comments

It was widely hoped that the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Dunsmuir v. New Brunswick, 2008 SCC 9 (“Dunsmuir”) would simplify the judicial review of administrative action by limiting the scope of review to two standards: reasonableness and correctness. The divided Supreme Court of Canada opinion in Commission scolaire de Laval v. Syndicat de l’enseignement de la région de Laval, 2016 SCC 8 shows that there is still a long way to go before coherence and uniformity is brought to this area of law.… Continue Reading

Missing the Mark – Federal Court of Appeal set aside dismissal in passing off and copyright case

Posted in Case Comments, Intellectual Property

In Sadhu Singh Hamdard Trust v. Navsun Holdings Ltd. (2016 FCA 69), the Court of Appeal set aside the Federal Court’s (2014 FC 1139) decision dismissing Hamdard Trust’s claim of copyright infringement and passing off against Navsun Holdings and remitted the matter to the Federal Court for redetermination, with some guidance.… Continue Reading

Abuse of Process: Carbon Copy Class Actions Stayed by Courts Coast to Coast

Posted in Case Comments, Civil Litigation, Class Actions, Multijurisdictional

A recent article, Abuse of Process: Carbon Copy Class Actions Stayed by Courts Coast to Coast, published on McCarthy Tétrault LLP’s Class Actions Monitor blog may be of interest to readers of the Canadian Appeals Monitor blog. Kelli McAllister recently published on update to her previous discussion about the ongoing systems access fee class action.

This unusual class action was launched in nine provinces in 2004 by the same counsel on behalf of the same plaintiffs. This class action has now been found to be an abuse of process by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal in BCE Continue Reading

Careful Putting Your Best Foot Forward: Alberta Court of Appeal Eases Access to Summary Dismissal

Posted in Case Comments, Civil Litigation, Contracts

The Alberta Court of Appeal strengthened the post-Hryniak judicial trend in favour of the summary disposition of litigation without trial by upholding the decision of a chambers judge to grant summary dismissal without strict adherence to the applicable Rules of Court.  In Pyrrha Design Inc v Plum and Posey Inc, 2016 ABCA 12, the plaintiff applied for summary judgment but failed to make its case. It saw not just its application, but its entire claim, dismissed, even though the defendant had not brought a cross-application for summary dismissal.… Continue Reading

Dunkin’ Donuts: The Supreme Court of Canada puts an end to the saga

Posted in Case Comments, Civil Litigation, Franchise and Distribution

A recent article published on McCarthy Tétrault LLP’s Consumer and Retail Advisor blog may be of interest to readers of the Canadian Appeals Monitor blog. Adam Ship, Anne-Marie Naud and Helen Fotinos recently published an update to their previous discussion about the Québec Court of Appeal’s decision in Dunkin’ Brands Canada Ltd. c. Bertico inc., 2015 QCCA 624, in particular its finding of implied obligations in franchise agreements. The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) just announced their dismissal of Dunkin’ Brands Canada Ltd.’s application for leave to appeal from the judgment of the Quebec Court of Appeal. Notably, in … Continue Reading

Cook or Get Out of the Kitchen: Legitimate Interest Required to Enforce a Restrictive Covenant

Posted in Case Comments, Civil Litigation, Franchise and Distribution

MEDIchair LP v DME Medeqip Inc., 2016 ONCA 168 is a case with important implications for all franchisors and franchisees. In the decision released on February 29, 2016, the Ontario Court of Appeal struck down a non-competition covenant because the franchisor had no intention of operating a competing business within the geographical area covered by the covenant.  Overturning the lower court decision, the Court of Appeal held that a legitimate proprietary interest is necessary to enforce a restrictive covenant.… Continue Reading

“Crossing the Rubicon” Against Corporations: Authorities Cannot Investigate Corporations Under the Guise of an Audit

Posted in Case Comments, Charter of Rights, Competition, Constitutional, Criminal, Securities, Tax

Authorities must relinquish their broad compulsory auditing powers when engaging in an adversarial determination of penal liability or, as stated by the Supreme Court in R. v. Jarvis, [2002] 3 SCR 757 [1] when they “cross the Rubicon”. This flows from the protection against self-incrimination enshrined under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, a protection which, traditionally, only benefits individuals. However, according to a recent Court of Québec decision in Agence du revenu du Québec c. BT Céramiques inc., 2015 QCCQ 14534 [2] the protection of the Rubicon is not exclusive to … Continue Reading