When is Oral Evidence Required to Resolve Credibility Issues in Summary Judgment Motions?

Nick P. Poon, B.Sc. (Hons.), B.A., J.D.Appeals, Business Litigation, Civil Litigation, Commercial, Commercial and Contract Litigation, Commercial Contracts, Commercial Litigation, Contract Disputes, Contract Termination, Franchise | Licensing, Franchise Law, Summary Judgment0 Comments

The Ontario Court of Appeal decision in 2212886 Ontario Inc. v. Obsidian Group Inc., 2018 ONCA 670, involved the appeal of a partial summary judgment decision in a dispute between the franchisor and a franchisee of Crabby Joe’s Tap and Grill.  In this case, the franchisee operated a Crabby Joe’s franchise for a year and a half prior to serving a notice of rescission of the franchise agreement on the franchisor. Claims The franchisee claimed that the disclosure document provided was materially deficient and it was entitled to rescind the franchise agreement within two years of execution of the franchise agreement under section 6(2) of the Arthur Wishart Act (Franchise Disclousre), 2000 (“the Act”).   The franchisee claimed for rescission damages under section 6(6) of the Act and also damages for breach of contract and breach of the fair dealing obligations under the Act.  In response, the franchisor brought a counterclaim for a declaration that the franchise agreement was validly terminated and a … 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

Use At Your Own Risk: Partial Summary Judgment Motions

Nick P. Poon, B.Sc. (Hons.), B.A., J.D.Appeals, Business Litigation, Civil Litigation, Commercial, Franchise Law, Misrepresentation, Negligence, Summary Judgment0 Comments

The Ontario Court of Appeal in Butera v. Chown, Cairns LLP, 2017 ONCA 783, recently overturned an award of partial summary judgment in a professional negligence action and provided guidance on the appropriate circumstances in which partial summary judgment motions should be brought. In the original action, the plaintiffs brought an action against various Mitsubishi companies after their Mitsubishi dealership franchise failed, claiming damages for breach of contract, misrepresentation, negligence and breaches of the Arthur Wishart Act.  The original action was dismissed on summary judgment because the applicable two-year limitation period had passed.  The plaintiffs were also ordered to pay $150,000 in costs for both the action and the summary judgment motion. The plaintiffs appealed the summary judgment motion decision and argued that a six-year limitation period was applicable notwithstanding that they had conceded at the motion that the applicable limitation period was two years.  The appeal was dismissed. The plaintiffs then brought the subject action against their former lawyers for negligence.  The plaintiffs claimed damages for … Read More

Court Sets Out Notice Period to Terminate Franchise Agreement

Andrew Ottaway, B.A. (Hons.), LL.B.Civil Litigation, Contract Disputes, Employment & Wrongful Dismissal, Franchise Law0 Comments

The Ontario Superior Court in France v. Kumon Canada Inc. considered the appropriate notice period required to terminate a franchise agreement, in this case in respect to a Kumon tutoring franchise.   Kumon terminated the franchise agreement with 12 months’ notice.  The Plaintiff had successfully run the franchise for 20 years.  There was no franchise agreement in place (as the franchise was entered into by oral agreement 20 years earlier when their franchise agreements were not in writing).  The Plaintiff sued Kumon for damages, arguing that her franchise was perpetual and could not be terminated. Kumon argued that the franchise agreement could be terminated on reasonable notice, and brought a motion for summary judgment.  The Court granted Kumon summary judgment, but asked for further submissions regarding the proper notice period. The Court noted that there were no cases directly on point. The Court accepted that a franchise relationship is close to an employer/employee relationship.  However, … Read More

Bhasin v. Hrynew: A New ‘Fair Opportunity’ Doctrine in Canadian Contract Law?

R. Lee Akazaki, C.S., B.A. (Hons.), J.D.Civil Litigation, Commercial Law, Franchise Law0 Comments

On November 13, the Supreme Court in Bhasin v. Hrynew, 2014 SCC 71 (CanLII) changed the law of contract in Canada by imposing duties of good faith and honesty on all contractual relations.  Until now, the duties have been applied to agreements in situations of power imbalance, notably insurance, employment and franchises.  The plaintiff was a dealer in education savings plans, a type of consumer investment, offered by the corporate defendant. At the end of the three-year contract, the corporate defendant decided not to invoke a provision blocking the automatic renewal of the contract.  The reason for its decision was the favouring of another dealer, the other defendant and a competitor of the plaintiff. On behalf of a unanimous court, Justice Cromwell stated three elements to the new state of contract law in siding with the plaintiff’s claim for damages: (1) There is a general organizing principle of good faith that underlies many … Read More

License to use “Marilyn Monroe” Trade-mark is not a Franchise Agreement

Nick P. Poon, B.Sc. (Hons.), B.A., J.D.Civil Litigation, Commercial, Commercial Law, Commercial Litigation, Contract Disputes, Franchise Law0 Comments

In MGDC Management Group Inc. v. Marilyn Monroe Estate, 2014 ONSC 4584, the Respondents and Applicants were parties to a License Agreement which granted to the Applicants the exclusive right to use the trademark “Marilyn Monroe” in its restaurants.  The Applicants sought rescission of the License Agreement by claiming that the License Agreement qualifed as a franchise agreement which entitled it to receive full disclosure under the Arthur Wishart Act (Franchise Disclosure), 2000 (the “Act”).  The Respondents moved to dismiss the Application. Justice Morgan of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice found that the Act did not apply to the License Agreement for the following reasons: The parties expressly agreed that franchise disclosure laws such as the Act did not apply to the License Agreement.  And, in fact, the principal of the Applicants acknowledged that she was aware of this provision when she signed the License Agreement. Section 2(3)5 of the Act stated that it does not apply to a single trade-mark licensing agreement.  The … Read More

Franchise Rescission Granted Due to Deficient Disclosure

Nick P. Poon, B.Sc. (Hons.), B.A., J.D.Civil Litigation, Commercial, Commercial Law, Commercial Litigation, Franchise Law, Summary Judgment0 Comments

The recent Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision in 2337310 Ontario Inc. v. 2264145 Ontario Inc., 2014 ONSC 4370, addressed a partial summary judgment motion brought by the franchisee of a cafe seeking a declaration that it was entitled to exercise its right of rescission under the Arthur Wishart Act (Franchise Disclosure), 2000 (“the Act”). The franchisee sought to rescind the franchise agreement approximately six months after entering into the agreement by arguing that the disclosure document provided by the franchisor was so deficient that it amounted to receving no disclosure at all.  In contrast, the franchisor argued that the franchisee was provided with disclosure as required under the Act, and the franchisee was simply attempting to resile from a bona fide transaction due to its own incompetence and inability to operate the business successfully. The Court found a number of deficiencies in the disclosure provided by the franchisor, including failure to provide: (1) … Read More

Partial Summary Judgment Granted for Rescission of Franchise Agreement

Nick P. Poon, B.Sc. (Hons.), B.A., J.D.Civil Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Franchise Law, Summary Judgment0 Comments

In the recent Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision in 2147191 Ontario Inc. v. Springdale Pizza Depot Ltd., the plaintiffs brought a partial summary judgment motion seeking to rescind a franchise agreement under the Arthur Wishart Act (Franchise Disclosure), 2000 (the “Act”).  After purchasing the business from an existing franchisee, the plaintiffs alleged that they were entitled to receive disclosure from the franchisor but the disclosure received was so materially deficient that it amounted to no disclosure at all.  As a result, the plaintiffs claimed that they were entitled to rescind the franchise agreement within two years of entering into the franchise agreement.  The defendant franchisor argued that it was not required to provide disclosure to the plaintiffs due to its minimal involvement in the sale transaction, or in the alternative, it provided satisfactory if imperfect disclosure which would only entitle the plaintiffs to rescind the franchise agreement within sixty days of receiving the disclosure documents (which had elapsed). Under subsections 5(7) and 5(8) … Read More

Partial Summary Judgment in Franchise Disclosure Case

Nick P. Poon, B.Sc. (Hons.), B.A., J.D.Commercial, Franchise Law0 Comments

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision in Caffe Demetre v. 2249027 Ontario Inc., 2014 ONSC 2133, involved a partial summary judgment motion to dismiss the franchisee’s rescission claims (in its counterclaim) under the franchise disclosure legislation in Ontario, the Arthur Wishart Act (Franchise Disclosure), 2000 (the “Act”).  The Act provides the franchisee with the extraordinary right to rescind the franchise agreement: (i) within 60 days after receiving the disclosure documents; or (ii) within 2 years after entering in to the franchise agreement if the franchisor never provided the disclosure documents. The issue arose when the franchisee received the disclosure documents but attempted to rely on the 2 year rescission period, arguing that the disclosure documents contained “stark and material deficiencies” so as to be amount to no disclosure at all.  The franchisee alleged that the franchisor failed to disclose material facts including ongoing litigation against the previous franchisee, implementation and amendment of operational policies, and the cost of remodelling and renovations. Following on the guidance provided by the Supreme Court … Read More