Litigation, Canada updates

British Columbia court looks past unregistered trading in ordering payment to investment finder
  • Canada
  • 11 December 2018

For many junior resource company executives, deciding whether to engage investment finders can be like considering whether to breathe air. Such companies tend to have early-stage projects that do not warrant debt financing and therefore need equity injections, but lack the profile needed to attract traditional investment dealers. However, working with finders entails navigating the 'exempt' market, which can be hazardous to the ill-informed.

Court of appeal decides WSIB fraud requires wilful act
  • Canada
  • 04 December 2018

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) recently prosecuted three workers who were receiving WSIB benefits for failing to report a material change with respect to their benefit entitlement. The WSIB argued that it was not required to prove that the workers had intended to defraud the board. However, the Ontario Court of Appeal disagreed and held that to obtain a conviction for failing to report a material change, prosecutors must prove something akin to tax evasion or fraud.

Court hits brakes on duties owed to intoxicated plaintiffs
  • Canada
  • 27 November 2018

The expansion of recognised duties of care owed to intoxicated persons recently met resistance from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. The plaintiff in the case was one of four intoxicated passengers in a taxi who had been injured after the taxi was involved in an accident. The court centred its decision on the evidentiary record in the case, which established no reasonable basis for the plaintiff's expectation that the taxi driver would ensure that he wore his seatbelt.

Judge convicts and fines man for flying drone near airport
  • Canada
  • 20 November 2018

A Canadian man was recently convicted and fined for operating his drone within 30 feet of the approach path at Yellowknife Airport. This decision clarifies that reckless drone operations near airports and populated areas will be taken seriously by the courts and that significant fines may be levied against recreational pilots.

Supreme Court of Canada to rule on what happens to pension when pensioner disappears into thin air
  • Canada
  • 13 November 2018

The Supreme Court of Canada recently agreed to hear an appeal of a Quebec case concerning the obligations and rights of a pension plan administrator after a pensioner went missing. In their decisions, the lower courts agreed that the university had been correct to continue the monthly pension payments for the five years that the pensioner had been missing because the pensioner was presumed to be alive at the time.

Cheers to interprovincial trade: first application of Supreme Court of Canada's decision in R v Comeau
  • Canada
  • 23 October 2018

The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench recently struck down successive mark-ups on out-of-province craft beer as barriers to interprovincial trade contrary to Section 121 of the Constitution Act 1867. This is the first decision to apply the Supreme Court of Canada's interpretation of Section 121 as developed in R v Comeau. Further, this is the first decision in recent Canadian legal history to declare a legislative provision unconstitutional for violating Section 121.

Contractor imprisoned for manslaughter: a first in Quebec legal history
  • Canada
  • 16 October 2018

An excavation contractor who was found guilty of manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death has been sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment by the Court of Quebec. The sentence – which is a first in Quebec legal history – sends a clear message to employers concerning the importance of complying with their occupational health and safety obligations.

Administrative driving suspension not just cause to dismiss assistant fire chief
  • Canada
  • 02 October 2018

An assistant fire chief recently won a wrongful dismissal suit after he was fired for receiving a 90-day administrative driving prohibition for impaired driving while off duty. The court held that the assistant fire chief's off-duty conduct was not incompatible with the faithful discharge of his duties or otherwise prejudicial to the interests or reputation of the fire department and awarded him five months' salary as provided for in his employment contract.

Alberta Court of Appeal clarifies what the Crown must prove in a general duty offence
  • Canada
  • 25 September 2018

The Alberta Court of Appeal recently provided clarity on what the Crown must prove in a prosecution under the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Act regarding the failure to ensure the health and safety of workers. The key question before the court was whether the expression "as far as is reasonably practicable for the employer to do so" in the general duty section of the act was part of the physical components of the offence that the Crown had to prove.

Court finds lawyer's communications and conduct during harassment investigation were not privileged
  • Canada
  • 18 September 2018

An Ontario court has permitted an employee to refer in her statement of claim for constructive dismissal and bad faith to the communications and conduct of the company's lawyer in respect of a sexual harassment investigation. The court held that the discussions and conduct of the lawyer with respect to the investigation did not relate to a litigious dispute, but rather to the company's statutory obligation to investigate claims of sexual harassment under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Owner of electrical contracting firm held personally liable for its C$430,000 regulatory fine
  • Canada
  • 11 September 2018

In what appears to be a novel regulatory decision, the Ontario Court of Justice recently held the owner of an electrical contracting firm personally liable for its regulatory fines after he transferred assets out of the company following a fatal incident. In a rather scathing decision, the judge held that the owner had put his own assets at risk by blurring the lines between himself and the company.

Class action claiming gender harassment dismissed as only arbitrator had jurisdiction
  • Canada
  • 04 September 2018

A group of female police officers has lost its bid to bring a class action in the courts for gender discrimination and harassment. The officers had claimed systemic gender-based discrimination and harassment by male members of the police force. However, the court held that it had no jurisdiction over the class action because the claims should have been brought at arbitration.

Safety manager wins wrongful dismissal suit having not failed to complete assigned tasks
  • Canada
  • 28 August 2018

An Alberta safety manager recently won C$28,000 in damages after he was fired by his employer. The employer argued that the employee had quit or, in the alternative, that there was just cause for dismissal. The court held that the employee, who had three-and-a-half years of service and an annual salary of C$82,000, was entitled to four months' pay in lieu of notice.

Court declines to quash bid ban imposed by city on paving company
  • Canada
  • 07 August 2018

A recent Ontario court decision illustrates the serious business implications that Occupational Health and Safety Act compliance issues or disputes can have on a company. The court held that although the city of Sudbury had initially breached its obligation of procedural fairness when imposing a bid ban on paving company Interpaving, it had "cured" that breach through its reconsideration and process, which gave Interpaving full opportunity to be heard.

Occupational health and safety charges in fatality case dismissed for delay
  • Canada
  • 31 July 2018

An Ontario appeal judge has upheld the dismissal of Occupational Health and Safety Act charges against employees due to delay. The charges followed the death of a mining employee from cyanide intoxication by way of skin absorption. The total delay – from the laying of the charges to the last day scheduled for trial – was 21 months, which exceeded the 18-month presumptive delay ceiling set out by the Supreme Court of Canada in Jordan.

Distracted by mobile phones: forklift operators guilty of occupational health and safety offence
  • Canada
  • 17 July 2018

Two forklift operators were recently found guilty under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for using mobile phones while sitting on their forklifts. The court held that "operating or using" a forklift includes sitting on a forklift even when it is stopped and turned off, as other workers and forklifts may be nearby and put at risk by the operator's distraction and inattention to their surroundings while using a mobile phone. Further, the employer had clearly prohibited the use of mobile phones in the warehouse.

Vehicle owner not liable for accident caused by repair shop employee during driving test
  • Canada
  • 10 July 2018

The Alberta Court of Appeal recently reviewed the provisions of the Workers' Compensation Act that enable the Workers Compensation Board (WCB) to be subrogated to the right of a claim against a party not covered by the act when the WCB has paid out benefits to a party that is covered by the act. The court confirmed that pursuant to the act, defendants that are not protected from suit should not be held liable for the portion of loss caused by an employer or worker that is protected from suit.

Canadians may need to pursue internet defamation lawsuits abroad
  • Canada
  • 03 July 2018

A recent case has affirmed the test for jurisdiction simpliciter in internet defamation cases. However, it has also muddied the waters regarding the circumstances in which a court might exercise its discretion to stay a proceeding in Canada in favour of trial in another jurisdiction. The Supreme Court's decision shows that the judiciary remains divided on how best to adapt existing private international law principles to the modern reality of borderless communications.

Supreme Court of Canada rules that religious association decisions not open to judicial review
  • Canada
  • 26 June 2018

A recent Supreme Court of Canada decision concerning a religious association has confirmed that judicial review is not available to review decisions made by private entities that are not exercising statutory authority. While the courts may still review decisions of private entities where causes of action are based on a contract or other underlying legal right, the Supreme Court of Canada has closed the door on judicial review for all private entities by holding that it is available solely for exercises of statutory authority.

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