Shareholder Disputes, Oppression Remedy, and Liability of Directors and Officers

David Alderson, LL.B, LL.M (Commercial and Corporate), Q.Arb, Lawyer and ArbitratorArbitration, Business Law, Business Litigation, Commercial, Commercial Arbitration, Commercial List Matters, Commercial Litigation, Corporate Litigation, Directors' and Officers' Liability, Family Business Disputes, Partnership Dispute, Partnerships and Shareholder Disputes, Professions, Shareholder Disputes0 Comments

Our lawyers have acted in Ontario and other jurisdictions for small, mid-sized and large Ontario and Canadian corporations, shareholders, directors, officers, executives and creditors in corporate disputes and shareholder disputes. We have acted in both oppression remedy action and derivative actions. Oppression Remedy The oppression remedy is a mechanism in the Ontario Business Corporations Act and the Canada Business Corporations Act to protect the interests of shareholders and stakeholders in a corporation against wrongful conduct.  Whether the Ontario or Canada Act will apply depends on the jurisdiction in which the corporation was incorporated. The oppression remedy can be used to protect the interests of shareholders, directors, officers or creditors against the acts of other shareholders, the board of directors or other affiliates of the corporation. The oppression remedy can be used to protect the interests of shareholders, directors, officers or creditors against the acts of other shareholders, the board of directors or other affiliates … Read More

Renewal time for professional liability insurance? Mind the gap!

R. Lee Akazaki, C.S., B.A. (Hons.), J.D.Business Law, Civil Litigation, Insurance0 Comments

How can a policyholder who purchased consecutive policies of professional liability insurance lose the benefit of insurance?  On October 29, 2018, the Ontario Superior Court released its judgment in Cronnox Inc. v. Lloyd’s Underwriters, 2018 ONSC 6437 (CanLII), holding that the professional liability insurer did not owe the policyholder a duty to defend or to indemnify it in respect of a subrogated law suit.  It was the second part of an insurance coverage dispute among an engineering company, two insurers and a law firm.  In the first instalment, the same court also held earlier this year that the second insurer in the sequence was also not liable: Liberty Mutual Insurance Company v. Cronnox Inc., 2018 ONSC 1578 (CanLII). In September, 2013, the policyholder chose not to act on letters and emails from counsel for subrogating insurers who had paid to repair damage to a Toronto-area hotel, allegedly in the millions … Read More

The Ontario Securities Commission and the “Active Market”

Peter Neufeld, B. Soc. Sc., J.D.Administrative Law, Appeals, Business Law, Business Litigation, Class Action Defence, Directors' and Officers' Liability, Finance Litigation, Investment | Financial Services, Professional Liability, Professional Services, Professions, Securities Litigation, Shareholder Disputes0 Comments

Determining what constitutes an “active market” for securities can have significant implications for Investment Dealers, Approved Persons, and other market participants facing civil lawsuits and regulatory scrutiny.  Such a determination provides ample assistance to investors seeking to quantify damages allegedly sustained through (1) misrepresentations in a company’s financial documents or (2) the negligence of their financial advisors. In Sutton (re), 2018 ONSEC 42, however, the failure to show an active market for securities proved devastating to the defence of a Chief Financial Officer (“CFO”) in charge of pricing those securities. Background  As CFO of First Leaside Securities Inc. (“FLSI”), Brian Sutton’s (“Mr. Sutton”) position required him to assess the price of certain unlisted securities (“Fund Units”) issued by three limited partnerships (“Funds”). In pursuit of meeting these obligations,  Mr. Sutton relied on the Fund Units’ allegedly active market to ascribe an appropriate price. The Industry Investment Regulatory Organization of Canada (“IIROC”) … Read More

Canadian Court Shuts Down Loan Shark’s Law Suit

R. Lee Akazaki, C.S., B.A. (Hons.), J.D.Business Law, Business Litigation, Casino Debt Recovery, Civil Litigation, Commercial Lending, Commercial Litigation, Debt and Enforcing Judgments, Real Estate Litigation0 Comments

In Canada, it is not everyday one witnesses a loan shark resorting to judicial process to collect on outstanding obligations.  In fact, outside cases involving payday loans and hidden credit card fees, where legitimate loans might inadvertently cross the 60% interest rate threshold under s. 347 of the Criminal Code,  we have to date not seen any cases where the court has considered enforcement of blatantly usurious loans bearing interest of, say, 2,000% APR, as the Superior Court did in Ikpa v. Itamunoala, now available on line. Gilbertson Davis successfully obtained summary judgment rejecting the bid by the plaintiff, a resident of the United Kingdom (where laws banning usury no longer exist), to recover USD$500,000 on a USD$100,000 promissory note that had remained outstanding for four months before the start of litigation.  The plaintiff sought to have an equitable mortgage securing the note paid out in priority to the defendants’ registered mortgage.  … Read More

Shareholders’ Remedies under the OBCA: An Overview (Part 2/2) 

Janice Perri, B.A. (Summa Cum Laude)Business Law, Business Litigation, Civil Litigation, Closely-Held Business Disputes, Commercial, Commercial and Contract Litigation, Commercial Contracts, Commercial Law, Commercial Litigation, Corporate Disputes, Corporate Litigation, Directors' and Officers' Liability, Oppression Remedies, Partnership Dispute, Partnerships and Shareholder Disputes, Shareholder Disputes0 Comments

When a shareholder’s rights are breached, there are a variety of legal remedies available under the Ontario Business Corporations Act (“OBCA”). For more information on shareholders’ rights, please click here to see part 1 of this post. Oppression Remedy It is first important to note that as per the Ontario Court of Appeal decision Maurice v. Alles, the standard two-year limitation period set out in the Limitations Act applies to oppression remedy claims. The “clock starts to run” when the oppressive conduct first began, meaning that individuals must not delay if they wish to pursue an oppression remedy. The oppression remedy under s. 248 of the OBCA is broad in nature, and there is a large amount of judicial discretion afforded in its application. The oppression remedy can be an especially strong tool in protecting minority shareholders. When the Court determines that there has been oppressive conduct, unfairly prejudicial conduct, or conduct that disregards the interests of any shareholder it may make an order to resolve the matter in a variety of ways. … Read More

Shareholders’ Rights under the OBCA: An Overview (Part 1/2) 

Janice Perri, B.A. (Summa Cum Laude)Business Law, Business Litigation, Civil Litigation, Closely-Held Business Disputes, Commercial, Commercial and Contract Litigation, Commercial Contracts, Commercial Law, Commercial Litigation, Corporate Disputes, Corporate Litigation, Directors' and Officers' Liability, Oppression Remedies, Partnerships and Shareholder Disputes, Shareholder Disputes0 Comments

Under the Ontario Business Corporations Act (“OBCA”), shareholders of a corporation have a variety of rights. Outlined below are a few rights that all shareholders should be aware they possess. Please click here to see part 2 of this post on shareholders’ remedies. Voting Rights The board of directors, under s. 115 are ultimately responsible for managing or supervising the management of the business and affairs of a corporation. Major business decisions also involve the participation of the board of directors, though sales, leases, or exchanges of all or substantially all the property of the corporation that is not in the ordinary course of business requires the approval of shareholders (s. 184(3)). Shareholders also have voting rights that allow them to control the makeup of the board of directors (s. 119(4)), and also the ability to remove directors under s. 122(1) (though this is subject to exceptions under s. 120(f)). Shareholders have additional voting rights under … Read More

The Supreme Court of Canada On Defence Against the Tort of Conversion (Teva Canada Ltd. v. TD Canada Trust)

Janice Perri, B.A. (Summa Cum Laude)Appeals, Appellate Advocacy, Business Law, Business Litigation, Business Torts | Economic Torts, Civil Litigation, Commercial, Commercial Law, Commercial Litigation, Employee Fraud, Finance Litigation, Financial Services | Investment, Fraud, Fraud Recovery, Fraudulent Schemes, Investment | Financial Services0 Comments

In Teva Canada Ltd. v. TD Canada Trust, Teva Canada Ltd. (“Teva”), a pharmaceutical company, “was the victim of a fraudulent cheque scheme implemented by one of its employees”, (para 1). Teva claimed the collecting banks were liable for the tort of conversion. Teva Canada Ltd. v. TD Canada Trust provides insight into the Bills of Exchange Act‘s (“BEA”) section 20(5) defence to the tort of conversion, by clarifying the approach used to determining whether a payee is “fictitious or non-existing”. In the event that a payee is deemed fictitious or non-existing within the meaning of section 20(5) of the BEA, the bill may be treated as payable to the bearer, and thus can be negotiated by simple “delivery” to the bank meaning endorsement is not required, and the defence will succeed (para 5). Justice Abella, writing for the majority, outlined the two-step framework a bank must satisfy to demonstrate that a payee is fictitious or … Read More

Mattresses and Slogans and Interlocutory Injunctions, Oh My! (Sleep Country Canada Inc. v. Sears Canada Inc.)

Janice Perri, B.A. (Summa Cum Laude)Brand Protection, Business Law, Business Litigation, Civil Litigation, Commercial, Injunction & Specific Performance, Intellectual Property, Passing Off, Trademark Infringement0 Comments

In Sleep Country Canada Inc. v. Sears Canada Inc., Sleep Country Canada Inc. (“Sleep Country”) was granted an interlocutory injunction against Sears Canada Inc. (“Sears”) to prevent Sears from using their slogan “THERE IS NO REASON TO BUY A MATTRESS ANYWHERE ELSE” while the trade-mark infringement litigation (in which Sleep Country claims Sears’ slogan infringes on Sleep Country’s trade-marked slogan of, “WHY BUY A MATTRESS ANYWHERE ELSE”) is ongoing.   The three-part test set out in RJR-MacDonald v. Canada (Attorney General) was ultimately satisfied. The heart of the case was not on whether this was a serious issue or on the balance of convenience, but rather, on whether irreparable harm was established.   The Court found in favour of Sleep Country’s arguments that confusion, depreciation of goodwill, and loss of distinctiveness would result, as well as, a loss of sales in the minimum 18-24-month period between the time of this hearing and the determination of the … Read More

Lowering the Threshold of Trademark Infringement? (United Airlines, Inc. v. Cooperstock)

Janice Perri, B.A. (Summa Cum Laude)Business Law, Business Litigation, Civil Litigation, Information Technology, Internet | Technology, Technology and Internet, Trademark Infringement, Website Copying0 Comments

Since December 17, 1998, United Airlines has been using the website www.united.com, it’s brand name and logo has been used since August 2010, and the design and artwork of the website has stayed relatively the same since 2006 (para 4). United Airlines has a variety of trademarks associated with these services. Cooperstock operated www.untied.com and in 2011 he redesigned the graphics, in a manner similar to the design of the United Website, which was adjusted in 2012 to match changes made by United on their website in 2012 (though with a sad-face added on the United logo for example) (para 10). In United Airlines, Inc. v. Cooperstock, the Court found that Cooperstock infringed United’s trademarks. Trademark infringement occurs when “a trademark or a confusingly similar mark [is used], without the consent of the trademark rights holder, in association with wares or services” (para 29). This case provides an interesting decision regarding the specific element of infringement under … Read More

Court Considers Deemed Place of Contracting in Jurisdiction Analysis

Andrew Ottaway, B.A. (Hons.), LL.B.Business Law, Business Litigation, Civil Litigation, Contract Disputes, Contract Termination, Cross-Border Litigation, Forum Challenges, Franchise | Licensing, Franchise Law, Injunction & Specific Performance, Jurisdictional Challenges0 Comments

In We Serve Health Care LP v. Onasanya, 2018 ONSC 1758, the Applicant was a franchisor of home health care service providers.. The Applicant had its head office in Ontario and regional offices in various jurisdictions, including one in Saskatchewan.  The individual Respondent entered into a Franchise Agreement with the Applicant’s predecessor company granting her a license to operate a franchise in Saskatchewan.. She later assigned her rights under the Franchise Agreement to the corporation Respondent. The Applicant refused to renew the Franchise Agreement, resulting in a dispute.  The Applicant commenced an Application in Ontario for a declaration that the Franchise Agreement had expired and for a mandatory order that the Respondents comply with their post-expiry obligations under the Franchise Agreement. The Respondents brought a motion to stay the Application on the basis that the Ontario Court did not have jurisdiction.   The Applicant argued that the dispute was presumptively … Read More

Court Considers Oppression Claim by Creditors against Directors

Andrew Ottaway, B.A. (Hons.), LL.B.Business Law, Business Litigation, Civil Litigation, Directors' and Officers' Liability, Oppression Remedies, Summary Judgment0 Comments

In The Investment Administration Solutions Inc. v. Pro-Financial Asset Management Inc., 2018 ONSC 1220 (CanLII), the Ontario Superior Court considered an oppression claim under section 248 of the Ontario Business Corporations Act by a creditor against the directors of a debtor company. The Plaintiff company provided back office services to the Defendant Pro-Financial. Pro-Financial was an Ontario Corporation which carried on business as an investment dealer.   Pro-Financial was poorly managed and did not comply with the applicable regulatory requirements.  Pro-Financial’s assets were eventually sold to another dealer at the insistence of the Ontario Securities Commission (“OSC”). As a result of the sale, there was no money left to pay the Plaintiff’s significant outstanding accounts. The Plaintiff brought an action against, among others, directors of Pro-Financial.  The Plaintiff’s claim included a claim for an oppression remedy.  The Plaintiff argued that the directors of Pro-Financial had violated Pro-Financial’s reasonable expectation that the … Read More

Court of Appeal States that Placing Oneself in Position to Close Transaction not Waiver of Deficiency

Andrew Ottaway, B.A. (Hons.), LL.B.Appeals, Appellate Advocacy, Business Law, Business Litigation, Civil Litigation, Commercial and Contract Litigation, Commercial Contracts, Commercial Litigation, Contract Disputes, Real Estate Litigation, Sale of Business Disputes0 Comments

In 1418885 Ontario Ltd. v. 2193139 Ontario Limited, 2018 ONCA 54, the appellant entered into an agreement of purchase and sale to buy a property from the respondent.  The property included residential apartments.  The appellant sought confirmation from the respondent that the residential apartments were permitted use under the existing zoning by-law.  The respondent maintained that the residential apartments were “a legal non-conforming use”.  However, the planning authority indicated that there was a possible problem with the residential apartments.  The appellant’s lawyer advised the respondent’s lawyer that the purchase deposits had to be returned if the issue was not resolved. In spite of the residential apartments issue, the appellant and respondent moved towards the closing date by exchanging draft documentation and related material.  However, on closing date, the appellant’s lawyer advised the respondent’s lawyer that the appellant would not be closing because of the residential apartments issue.  The deal did … Read More