The Supreme Court of Canada has released a precedent-setting judgment in which it recognized, for the first time, that there is a general organizing principle of good faith in the performance of contracts throughout Canada: Bhasin v. Hrynew, 2014 SCC 71. The Bhasin case, which was successfully argued by Neil Finkelstein and Brandon Kain of McCarthy Tétrault’s Toronto litigation group, will be very important for Canadian businesses going forward. As a result of Bhasin, all contracts throughout Canada are now subject to a duty of, at a bare minimum, honest performance, which cannot be excluded by the terms … Continue Reading
The Supreme Court of Canada this week issued a judgment in one case, granted leave to appeal in one case, and denied leave to appeal in one case of interest to Canadian businesses.
In Thibodeau v. Air Canada, 2014 SCC 67, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the claims of airline passengers arising from a breach of an airline’s obligation to provide services in French under the federal Official Languages Act was precluded by the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air.… Continue Reading
The Supreme Court this week issued a number of leave-to-appeal rulings likely to be of interest to Canadian businesses and professionals. Four such leave-to-appeal requests were refused, and one was remanded.
The following applications were refused:
- Leave-to-appeal from the Alberta ruling in Somji v. Wilson, 2014 ABCA 35, was dismissed. The Court of Appeal had affirmed the striking of claims against both (i) a trial judge (who had granted default judgment against the appellants), and (ii) the respondents (who were alleged to have acted deceitfully in obtaining the default judgment).
In R. v. Mian, the Supreme Court provided extensive comment on when an “appellate court can disrupt the adversarial system and raise a ground of appeal on its own” initiative.
The Court established a new test for the exercise of appellate courts’ discretion to raise a new issue on appeal. Appellate court judges will now ask themselves three questions when deciding whether to raise a new issue: 1) is the issue actually “new”?; 2) would failing to raise the issue “risk an injustice”?; and 3) can the new issue be raised in a way that will be fair to … Continue Reading
The Supreme Court of Canada issued a judgment in one case and denied leave to appeal in another case of interest to Canadian businesses and professions.
In Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia v. British Columbia (Attorney General), a majority of the Court ruled that a provincial rule requiring the payment of court hearing fees, with limited exemptions, was unconstitutional, as it infringed litigants’ right to access to justice. The majority of the Court ruled that, in order to pass constitutional muster, such fees cannot be so high as to cause litigants to “sacrifice reasonable expenses in order to … Continue Reading
The Supreme Court of Canada granted leave to appeal in one case, and refused leave in several other cases, likely to be of interest to Canadian businesses and professions.
The Court granted leave from the ruling of the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal in Lemare Lake Logging Ltd v 3L Cattle Company Ltd, 2014 SKCA 35. That constitutional law decision had addressed the alleged operational conflict between the federal Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Saskatchewan Farm Security Act, regarding the appointment of a receiver. The Court of Appeal had found the provincial enactment to be inoperative pursuant … Continue Reading
The Supreme Court of Canada has granted leave to appeal in a case that will determine how to apply the statutory limitation period for investors in Ontario who decide to sue public issuers and their executives under the Securities Act. Given similar legislation in other provinces, the case will be significant for investors and public issuers across Canada.… Continue Reading
In the world of contractual interpretation, the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Sattva Capital Corp. v. Creston Moly Corp. is a blockbuster. Sattva does three significant things. First, it determines that contractual interpretation generally involves a mixed question of fact and law, not a question of law alone. That holding has major implications for appellate review of decisions involving issues of contractual interpretation, and represents the resolution of an issue that had previously divided provincial appellate courts. Second, Sattva emphasizes the importance to contractual interpretation of evidence of the surrounding circumstances or the factual matrix in which … Continue Reading
Lower courts in both Canada and the US have been deeply divided on the application of their respective Supreme Courts’ precedents on whether the police need a warrant to search the contents of a smart/cell phone seized during a lawful arrest. On June 25, 2014, the US Supreme Court unanimously settled US law in Riley v. California, No. 13-132. The court found that privacy interests at stake outweigh any legitimate governmental interest, absent any “exigent circumstances”.
The saga of North America’s first unionized Wal-Mart has taken a significant turn in favour of its former employees, nine years after they lost their jobs when the store in Jonquière, Quebec was permanently shut. Much ink has been spilled telling the story of the Jonquière store, its successful unionization in 2004, and its closure in 2005, which was announced on the very day that an arbitrator had been appointed in relation to the what was to have been the store’s first collective agreement. Now, the Supreme Court of Canada in United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 503 v. Wal-Mart … Continue Reading
The following post on the snIP/ITs blog may be of interest to readers of this blog: The Aereo Decision – Canadian Content?
On June 25, 2014, the United States Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 decision in American Broadcasting Cos., Inc. et al v. Aereo, Inc. that Aereo’s Internet retransmission service infringes copyright. McCarthy Tétrault played a small role by filing an amicus brief on behalf of a coalition of international rights holders and copyright scholars that drew the Court’s attention to the need to interpret the US Copyright Act in a technologically neutral way, as similar copyright laws have … Continue Reading
The Supreme Court of Canada has released a much anticipated administrative law decision interpreting the scope of Cabinet’s powers to overrule tribunals. In Canadian National Railway Co. v. Canada (Attorney General), the Supreme Court clarified that reasonableness review applies to Ministerial decisions made pursuant to a “cluster” of economic regulatory statutes, including the Canada Transportation Act, S.C. 1996, c. 10. These economic statutes empower the Governor in Council to vary or rescind decisions of the tribunals administering the legislation, requiring reviewing courts to employ deference even on issues of law.
Recently, the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) and the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom (“UKSC”) both had cause to consider the nature of partnership, and when certain protections due to employees or workers are extended to partners. While the two cases presented very different scenarios – the Canadian case concerning human rights, and the UK decision concerning employment rights – both decisions suggested that partners may indeed be employees in certain situations.
The Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal this week in two cases of interest to Canadian business.
In Re Nortel Networks Corporation, the Supreme Court of Canada refused leave to appeal a decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal addressing whether a stay of proceedings granted under the federal Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act stays remediation orders issued by the Ministry of the Environment.
Leave to appeal was also declined by the Supreme Court of Canada in Association des pompiers professionnels de Québec inc. c. Québec (Ville de), an administrative law case emanating from the Quebec Court … Continue Reading
On February 20, 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada granted leave to appeal from the first decision from the Québec Court of Appeal on the statutory secondary market liability regime adopted in 2007, pursuant to a reform of the Quebec Securities Act, R.S.Q. c. V-1.1 (“QSA”).
Under the QSA, Theratechnologies inc. (“Thera”) is a reporting issuer which must comply with continuous disclosure obligations. In 2009, Thera filed an application to the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) to commercialize a major drug called Tesamoreline. In the course of the approval process, on May 25, 2010, the FDA … Continue Reading
A Commentary on Recent Legal Developments by the Opinions Group of McCarthy Tétrault LLP
The contours of the tort of unlawful interference with economic relations have, heretofore, been “unsettled”, “confusing” and “inconsistent”. The tort essentially provides redress when party “A” intentionally inflicts economic injury on party “B” by use of unlawful means against party “C”. What is the nature of the “unlawful” activity that can ground the tort? What degree of intentionality is required to give rise to the tort? Is the tort available concurrently with other causes of action? These are the central questions that the Supreme Court of … Continue Reading
The first judgment of 2014 rendered by the Supreme Court of Canada, Vivendi Canada Inc. v. Dell’Aniello, 2014 SCC 1 (“Vivendi”), deals with the conditions for authorization of a class action in Quebec. The judgment has several important implications for Canadian businesses that are likely to be involved in class action proceedings.
First, the Court held that the “commonality of issues” test for authorization is satisfied by even a single common question, as long as it can serve to advance the resolution of a “not insignificant portion of the dispute”. Second, the Court stated that the answer … Continue Reading
A recent ruling of the British Columbia Court of Appeal — Byatt International SA v. Canworld Shipping Company Limited, 2013 BCCA 558 — provides useful guidance regarding the unique test to be applied on a motion to stay an appeal court’s ruling, pending the conclusion of a leave-to-appeal application before the Supreme Court of Canada. In so doing, the BCCA also shed indirect (but useful) light on the somewhat opaque test applied by the SCC in determining such applications for leave to appeal.
As is well known, most appeals to the Supreme Court of Canada can only be commenced … Continue Reading
The recent Supreme Court decision in IBM Canada Limited v Waterman, 2013 SCC 70, has gotten much attention for its ruling and comments about the “collateral benefits” principle and how it applies to pension benefits paid to wrongfully dismissed employees during the notice period. The issue was whether the exception should apply to preclude a reduction, in the amount of the pension benefits, to the compensatory damages payable to the employee for the wrongfull dismissal. The application of the “collateral benefits” principle was the central point of disagreement between the majority judgment of Cromwell J. and the dissenting … Continue Reading
Rectification is an important equitable doctrine allowing courts to rewrite contracts that erroneously record the agreement reached by the parties. The basic requirements for rectification are well settled. Where there is a mutual mistake, the party seeking rectification must show (i) that the parties had a common continuing intention prior to the making of the document alleged to be deficient; (ii) that that intention remained unchanged or existed at the time when the document sought to be rectified was signed; and (iii) by mistake, the parties signed a document that did not accurately reflect their common intention.
However, … Continue Reading
The following article may be of interest to readers of this blog: Regulatory Settlement Will Not Prevent Class Action: SCC Certifies Fischer
On December 12, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada released its much anticipated decision in AIC Limited v. Fischer, 2013 SCC 69. The Court unanimously held that a restitution payment in settlement of regulatory proceedings does not preclude certification of a class action on behalf of the same investors who received compensation through the regulatory process. Read more.… Continue Reading
The Supreme Court of Canada rendered judgment in two cases, granted leave in one case and refused leave in three cases of interest to Canadian business and professions.
In La Souveraine, Compagnie d’assurance générale v. Autorité des marchés financiers, 2013 SCC 63, the Supreme Court of Canada, in upholding the conviction of an insurance company for offences under the Act Respecting the Distribution of Financial Products and Services, reaffirmed that strict liability offences do not generally require proof of mens rea. Moreover, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that although a due diligence defence is available in the regulatory … Continue Reading
In Katz Group Canada Inc. v. Ontario (Health and Long-Term Care), the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously upheld the validity of regulations under the Drug Interchangeability and Dispensing Fee Act (DIDFA) and the Ontario Drug Benefit Act (ODBA). The regulations at issue were amended in 2010 to stop pharmacies from controlling manufacturers that sell generic drugs that they do not make themselves, on the rationale that if pharmacies control manufacturers, this would keep drug prices high. Under these regulations, a pharmacy cannot sell “private label” drugs – these are generic drugs that a manufacturer under the pharmacy’s control