The ability to contractually limit liability, such as tort liability, continues to be an area ripe for appellate courts to clarify. There remains a degree of uncertainty about whether and when a limitation of liability clause will be enforceable. The latest development comes from the British Columbia Court of Appeal (“BCCA”) in Felty v Ernst & Young, which considered a limitation of liability clause in the context of an agency relationship. In that case, the BCCA called the question of enforceability of so-called exclusion clauses “vexed” but ultimately concluded that the clause in that case was enforceable: … Continue Reading
The British Columbia Court of Appeal’s decision in Roy v Kretschmer, 2014 BCCA 429 provides guidance on the element of reliance in the tort of deceit. It also holds that a contractual clause limiting liability is unenforceable even where the breaching party did not commit a criminal act or egregious fraud.
This decision is of interest to Canadian businesses because it suggests that where a contract has been breached, the breaching party can be sued in tort for hiding the circumstances of the breach if the non-breaching party relies on the breaching party’s fraudulent silence or misrepresentations. Further, in … Continue Reading
In Andriuk v. Merrill Lynch Canada Inc., the Alberta Court of Appeal affirmed a certification judge’s decision that an action, commenced pursuant to Alberta’s Class Proceedings Act, did not meet the requirements for certification of a class proceeding, based on a failure to demonstrate a viable methodology for establishing causation and damages on a class-wide basis.… Continue Reading
The “culture shift” to a more accessible civil justice system, as championed in Hryniak v. Mauldin, is alive and well. Courts are increasingly sensitive to the economy of cases, taking into account the efficiency and proportionality of substantive and procedural rights. Today’s emphasis is on reasonable not exhaustive measures.
In O’Connor Associates Environmental Inc. v. MEC OP LLC, the Alberta Court of Appeal overturned the decision of a case management judge who permitted the joinder of third party advisors to a main action between a purchaser and vendor of oil and gas assets. This appellate decision incorporates the Hryniak… Continue Reading
Clauses that exclude, or “release”, liability are widespread and critical to risk management for many businesses. Typically, such clauses stipulate that the signee waives the right to sue if they are injured while participating in certain activities. Inevitably, in the event that the signee is injured, a variety of arguments are put forward as to why the particular exclusion clause is unenforceable in the particular circumstances.
Recently, in 2010, the Supreme Court set out a new approach to the analysis of whether an exclusion clause is unenforceable in Tercon Contractors Ltd. v. British Columbia (Transportation and Highways), 2010 SCC … Continue Reading
Earlier this year we discussed on this blog the new “sufficient appreciation test” set out by the Supreme Court in Hryniak v. Mauldin, which really represents a cultural shift in the availability of summary judgment to the parties.
In Windsor v. Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd., 2014 ABCA 108, the Alberta Court of Appeal applied the test to a certified class action about Rylands v. Fletcher liability.
A recent decision of the Alberta Court of Appeal has opened the door for awarding punitive damages to surviving dependants under Alberta’s Fatal Accidents Act (the “FAA”). The FAA creates a statutory cause of action for dependants of deceased persons where death was caused by a wrongful act. Similar legislation in other provinces has been held to preclude claims for punitive and other non-compensatory damages. Until now, the availability of punitive damages under the FAA was uncertain.
The New Zealand Supreme Court rendered an interesting decision on litigation funding agreements, more specifically on the extent to which they may be invalid based on abuse of process. Litigation funding agreements are a big issue in Canada right now, particularly in the context of class actions.
In Waterhouse v. Contractors Bonding Limited ( NZSC 89) the Supreme Court of New Zealand considered whether the plaintiffs should be ordered to disclose a litigation funding agreement under the abuse of process principles.
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Global commerce transcends borders. When related litigation ensues, it can give rise to thorny jurisdictional issues. For instance, when an Ontario-headquartered mining company relies — based on recommendations from its technical staff in its Vancouver satellite office — upon the engineering reports of US-based consultants to build a gold mine in Costa Rica which then collapses, does an Ontario court have jurisdiction over the subsequent legal dispute between the parties?… Continue Reading
Next month marks the bicentennial of the birth of Sir William Johnstone Ritchie, one of the first judges appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada and Chief Justice from 1879 to 1892. Why are we thinking about him this week? Until today, he was the longest serving Chief Justice of Canada. That title now belongs to Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, who has held the position since January 7, 2000. Having served on the Court for nearly a quarter century – most of that time as Chief Justice – her impressive legacy to date includes the development of the law in … Continue Reading
Contributory negligence legislation allows liability to be apportioned between tortfeasors – but what about defendants who are severally liable for a single loss caused by independent breaches of contract? In Petersen Pontiac Buick GMC (Alta.) Ltd. v. Campbell, 2013 ABCA 251, counsel for both parties could find no authority on the issue of apportioning liability between defendants when “a plaintiff suffers the same loss, caused by a breach of contract by one party and a breach of a different contract and negligence by another.” The Alberta Court of Appeal helped fill this gap by holding that the common… Continue Reading
In a recent decision, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council ruled for the first time that the tort of malicious prosecution is available in the context of civil proceedings. In most jurisdictions, including Canada, the current view is that malicious prosecution is only available against the Attorney General or Crown prosecutors following criminal proceedings instituted for an improper purpose.
The result was driven by the peculiar facts of the case. Mr. Paterson was a chartered surveyor resident in the Cayman Islands. He was appointed by Sagicor to act as a loss adjuster for a claim for property… Continue Reading
During the spring of 2012, the Canadian Appeals Monitor posted a five-part series on the Supreme Court’s judgments in Van Breda, Black, and Éditions Écosociété (the “Van Breda Trilogy”). The Van Breda Trilogy was the Supreme Court’s long anticipated reformulation of the common law principles of private international law.
Since the release of the Van Breda Trilogy, courts of first instance have applied the controlling test in Van Breda without much interference from appeal courts. However, on May 31, 2013 the Ontario Court of Appeal released its judgment in 2249659 Ontario Ltd. v. Sparkasse Siegen, overturning … Continue Reading
In a new decision, the Supreme Court of Canada has provided guidance on when compensation might be due in cases of nuisance caused by public infrastructure projects. The Antrim decision is relevant not only for those involved in the management of public projects, but it also shapes the more general law of nuisance, especially in relation to particularly disruptive construction projects.
For 26 years, Antrim Truck Centre Ltd. operated a truck stop on Highway 17 in Eastern Ontario. Then in 2004, the Province constructed a new highway, and forever altered Highway 17. No longer could motorists access the truck … Continue Reading
Will a director or officer of a corporation or limited liability partnership be personally liable for the losses of investors who relied upon his or her inaccurate statements when deciding to invest in a corporate venture? What if the inaccurate statements did not involve matters that were proven to cause the investment losses?
The Alberta Court of Appeal recently considered these questions when overturning a trial decision which had held the directors of a failed slate quarry personally liable to investors for negligent misrepresentation. Hogarth v. Rocky Mountain Slate Inc., 2013 ABCA 57, emphasizes the importance of respecting the … Continue Reading
The SCC recently dismissed two leave applications from important (but unrelated) decisions of the BCCA in the consumer class action realm. One decision, in a rather noteworthy step, engages in an extensive analysis of and narrows the availability of the “waiver of tort” doctrine in claims based on alleged breaches of consumer protection type legislation.
The second decision is significant from a jurisdictional point of view and also because it ties in with certain potentially pivotal cases on indirect purchasers which will be heard by the SCC later this year. It permitted a class action alleging a competitive conspiracy … Continue Reading
In the spirit of the season, Canadian Appeals Monitor has decided not only to look back on the key appeals of 2012, but also to make predictions about those Supreme Court of Canada appeals most likely to impact businesses and professionals in 2013. Predicting which appeal judgments are likely to have important and lasting effects before they are even decided involves a high degree of guesswork,… Continue Reading
As the year draws to a close, we thought it appropriate to look back at the most significant civil appeals of 2012, and to look forward to the appeals in 2013 that are sure to impact Canadian businesses and professions. In this year-end post – the first of a special two-part series – Canadian Appeals Monitor will review four areas in which appellate courts were particularly active in 2012: (1) class actions; (2) copyright; (3) private international law; and (4) torts. Some of these cases have been written about previously on this blog, whereas others are new. We hope you … Continue Reading
In a decision released this month, the British Columbia Court of Appeal has declined to enter the national fray on the question of how courts should interpret statutory leave requirements adopted throughout Canada in recent securities legislation amendments. These leave requirements impose a preliminary hurdle for plaintiffs seeking to advance statutory secondary market class action claims, requiring them to demonstrate a reasonable possibility of success at trial. Thus far, no appellate court in Canada has yet pronounced on how courts should apply this standard. In Round v. MacDonald, the motions judge suggested that the appropriate standard in British Columbia … Continue Reading
The Supreme Court has granted to leave to appeal in a case that has the potential to elucidate an area of tort law where confusion has reigned for far too long. In the words of the House of Lords, “the law in this area is a mess.” The subject that has engendered this confusion is the scope of the “unlawful means” element in the economic torts, and in particular, in the torts of intentional interference with economic interests and intentional interference with contractual relations.
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The constitutionalization of private international law has been one of the major projects of the Supreme Court of Canada since the decision in Morguard. However, the precise relationship between the Constitution, and the “real and substantial connection” test, has yet to be fully defined. In the Van Breda Trilogy, the Supreme Court returned to this issue, and sought to provide private international law with a clearer constitutional foundation. Paradoxically, the result is a new approach to the role of superior courts and provincial legislatures in the Canadian federation, which raises more questions than it answers.
The Supreme Court of the United States has announced it will hear the appeal in Amgen Inc. v. Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds, setting the stage for an important clarification of the use of the “fraud-on-the-market” reliance presumption in U.S. securities class actions. The Court first set out the presumption in its 1988 landmark decision in Basic Inc. v. Levinson, 485 U.S. 224 (1988). The Amgen decision will have an impact in Canada, where courts have grappled with the question of reliance in such cases. Generally, Canadian courts have been sceptical about importing a “fraud-on-the-market” approach, but … Continue Reading
The Federal Court of Appeal has clarified when the federal Crown will be held responsible for representations made by its officers. In issuing its decision, the Court opted for a narrow interpretation of the Crown’s liability and reiterated that parties that rely on the Crown’s representations have the responsibility to conduct their own due diligence.