Contract Lawyers – The Duty of Good Faith – Update on Bhasin v Hrynew

Josef FinkelBusiness Law, Civil Litigation, Commercial and Contract Litigation, Commercial Contracts, Corporate Litigation0 Comments

The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) recently released its decision in Wastech Services Ltd. v. Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District, 2021 SCC 7 (CanLII) which clarifies the operation of the duty to exercise contractual discretion in good faith described in the seminal case, Bhasin v. Hrynew, 2014 SCC 71 (CanLII), [2014] 3 SCR 494. The SCC confirms that where a party exercises a discretionary power under a contract, it must do so in good faith (meaning that parties must exercise their contractual duties honestly, reasonably, and not capriciously or arbitrarily). If a party violates the duty of good faith, the contract is breached. The SCC opined that the following question must be asked when deciding if a party breached the duty of good faith: Was the exercise of contractual discretion unconnected to the purpose for which the contract granted discretion? If the answer is yes, then the party has … Read More

Shareholder’s Remedies

David Alderson, LL.B, LL.M (Commercial and Corporate), Lawyer, Qualified Arbitrator and MediatorAppointing Auditor, Appointing Inspector, Business Disputes, Business Litigation, Commercial, Corporate Disputes, Corporate Litigation, Derivative Actions, Directors' and Officers' Liability, Oppression Remedies0 Comments

Shareholder Remedies 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. 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 s. 100(2). Access to Information Rights Under s. 140(1) corporations … Read More

Confidentiality, Non-Competition and Non-Solicitation Clauses In Contracts

Sabrina Saltmarsh, B.A. (Hons), J.D.Breach of Confidentiality Clause, Breach of Non-Competition Agreement, Breach of Non-Competition Clause, Breach of Non-Solicitation Agreement, Breach of Non-Solicitation Clause, Business Disputes, Business Law, Business Litigation, Business Torts | Economic Torts, Closely-Held Business Disputes, Commercial, Commercial Contracts, Commercial List Matters, Commercial Litigation, Confidentiality Agreement, Confidentiality Clause, Corporate Litigation, Directors' and Officers' Liability, Injunction & Specific Performance, Joint Venture Disputes, Management Contracts, Mareva Injunction, Non-Compete, Non-Competition Agreement, Non-Competition Clause, Non-Solicitation Agreement, Non-Solicitation Clause, Norwich Order, Partnership Dispute, Partnerships and Shareholder Disputes, Sale of Business Disputes, Shareholder Disputes0 Comments

Confidentiality, non-competition, and non-solicitation clauses often show up in a variety of business contracts including employment and executive contracts, shareholder, and director agreements, as well as, independent contractor agreements, joint venture agreements and mergers, to name a few. A question that must be considered by contracting parties to such agreements is: What is the enforceability of these types of restrictive covenants? This question particularly becomes important when parties may part ways and a breach of the clauses is suspected or confirmed. These clauses are premised on the assumption that the relationship between the parties will result in the sharing of proprietary and sensitive business knowledge, contacts and relationships related to the operations of a business, which the company seeks to protect, particularly once the relationship between the parties ends. Non-competition clauses usually restrict one’s ability to engage in a competing business. Non-solicitation clauses prohibit one from soliciting stakeholders and contacts … Read More

Corporate Governance Considerations During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Sabrina Saltmarsh, B.A. (Hons), J.D.Business Interruption, Business Law, Business Litigation, Business Torts | Economic Torts, By-laws, Closely-Held Business Disputes, Commercial, Commercial and Contract Litigation, Commercial Contracts, Commercial Law, Commercial Leasing, Commercial List Matters, Commercial Litigation, Contract Disputes, Coronavirus, Corporate Disputes, Corporate Litigation, COVID-19, Derivative Actions, Directors' and Officers' Liability, Family Business Disputes, Oppression Remedies, Partnership Dispute, Partnerships and Shareholder Disputes, Retail Disputes, Retail Litigation, Sale of Business Disputes, Shopping Mall Lease Disputes, Shopping Mall Lease Litigation0 Comments

Corporate governance issues are top of mind for directors and businesses who are attempting to navigate through the Covid-19 Pandemic related closures and emergency measures. Boards of Directors still need to operate and make decisions in the best interests of the corporation, and this can involve tough decisions, particularly where there is little guidance as to how measures to lift Covid-19 related restrictions will play out. By example, while it may be in the best interest of investors and shareholders that the Board act to lay off employees in the short term, the impact of staff shortages when Covid-19 restrictions are lifted may pose it’s own challenges. Many businesses must consider how to hold governance meetings during Covid-19 times. On March 30, 2020, Ontario passed an Order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA), (Ontario Regulation 107/20) entitled “Meetings for Corporations” making temporary changes to the Business Corporations … Read More

When Shareholders Need an Auditor or Inspector

David Alderson, LL.B, LL.M (Commercial and Corporate), Lawyer, Qualified Arbitrator and MediatorBusiness Dispute Arbitrator, Business Disputes, Commercial, Commercial List Matters, Commercial Litigation, Corporate Litigation, Directors' and Officers' Liability, Financial Services | Investment, Fraud Recovery, Injunction & Specific Performance, Mareva Injunction, Norwich Order, Oppression Remedies, Preservation Orders0 Comments

I address here in a general way the procedures available for a shareholder or group of shareholders seeking the assistance of the court to have an auditor or inspector appointed. Financial Statements  – None or Inaccurate  Shareholders in closely-held Ontario corporations sometimes have concerns about the accuracy of the financial statements when the company does not have an auditor. Oppressive or Unfairly Prejudicial Conduct In other cases, a shareholder in an Ontario corporation may consider that the corporation has been carried on, or the powers of the directors are, or have been, exercised, in a manner that is oppressive or unfairly prejudicial to, or that unfairly disregards, the interests of the shareholder. Corporation and Fraud One or more shareholders may have concerns that the corporation’s business is, or has been, carried on with the intent to defraud,  that the corporation was formed or dissolved for a fraudulent or unlawful purpose, … Read More

Limitation Period Considerations in Derivative Proceedings

Sabrina Saltmarsh, B.A. (Hons), J.D.Business Fraud, Business Law, Business Litigation, Closely-Held Business Disputes, Corporate Disputes, Corporate Litigation, Directors' and Officers' Liability, Family Business Disputes, Oppression Remedies0 Comments

Under modern business corporation legislation, a claim for wrongdoing against a corporation can only be brought by the corporation itself, or by way of a derivative action for which leave from the court is required. In Ontario, there is a standard two-year limitation period that applies to the commencement of most lawsuits, including derivative claims on behalf of a corporation. When wrongs done to a corporation are alleged to have been done by a director or directors who exercise control and decision-making on behalf of the corporation, it is unlikely that those same directors will agree to commence a claim on behalf of the corporation for those wrongs. It is then up to other interested stakeholders, such as shareholders, to seek leave to commence a derivative claim on behalf of the corporation for the wrongs done to the corporation. Until the release of a 2015 Supreme Court of Canada ruling … Read More

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

David Alderson, LL.B, LL.M (Commercial and Corporate), Lawyer, Qualified Arbitrator and MediatorArbitration, 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 Disputes1 Comment

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

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

Court of Appeal States that Security for Costs Should Not be Treated Differently for Recognition and Enforcement Actions

Andrew Ottaway, B.A. (Hons.), LL.B.Appeals, Appellate Advocacy, Business Litigation, Civil Litigation, Commercial and Contract Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Corporate Litigation, Cross-Border Litigation, Enforcement of Foreign Judgments, Of Interest to US Counsel0 Comments

Yaiguaje v. Chevron Corporation, 2017 ONCA 741 arose from an action by the Plaintiffs to enforce an Ecuadorean judgment in Ontario against the Defendant.   The Defendants obtained summary judgment dismissing the Plaintiffs’ claim.  After the Plaintiffs appealed, the Defendant sought a security for costs against the Plaintiffs, who were non-Ontario residents from Ecuador.   The Plaintiffs argued that security for costs should not be ordered because of, among other reasons, the unique nature of a recognition and enforcement action.  The Plaintiffs relied on the Supreme Court of Canada decision on jurisdiction in the same action: Chevron Corp v. Yaiguaje, 2015 SCC 42, [2015] 3 S.C.R. 69.  The Plaintiffs argued that the Supreme Court’s decision required courts to treat recognition and enforcement cases in a different manner than first instance actions. The Court of Appeal confirmed that courts should take a “generous” approach in finding jurisdiction in recognition and enforcement actions. … Read More

Possible Changes to Choice of Court Agreements and Recognition of Foreign Judgments

Andrew Ottaway, B.A. (Hons.), LL.B.Arbitration, Business Litigation, Civil Litigation, Commercial and Contract Litigation, Commercial Arbitration, Commercial Litigation, Contract Disputes, Corporate Litigation, Enforcement of Foreign Judgments, Forum Challenges, Of Interest to US Counsel, Offshore0 Comments

Ontario recently enacted the International Choice of Court Agreements Convention Act, 2017, which will give effect to the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements (the “Hague Convention”) in Ontario once Canada ratifies the Hague Convention.  (Canada has not yet signed or ratified the Hague Convention.  It is not yet known when Canada will ratify the Hague Convention. The Uniform Law Conference of Canada adopted a model implementation statute in 2010, suggesting that Canada may sign and ratify the Hague Convention.) In preparation for ratification, Ontario businesses should be aware of the Hague Convention’s key features, including: • where parties of member States have expressly agreed to a court in their contract, the court selected by parties must act in every case as long as the choice of court agreement is valid. The agreed Court does not have discretion (on forum non conveniens or other grounds) to decline jurisdiction in favour of courts of another State. • any court … Read More

International Sale of Goods – the Law Applicable in Ontario

Andrew Ottaway, B.A. (Hons.), LL.B.Arbitration, Civil Litigation, Commercial, Commercial and Contract Litigation, Commercial Arbitration, Commercial Litigation, Contract Disputes, Corporate Litigation, Cross-Border Litigation, Offshore, Sale of Goods0 Comments

Many Ontario businesses buy and sell goods from foreign companies.  However, few Ontario businesses are aware that different laws apply to international purchases and sales of goods. For purchases and sales of goods between Ontario companies, the Ontario Sale of Goods Act will typically apply.  However, for purchases and sales of goods between Ontario and foreign companies, the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (the “CISG”) will typically apply. The CISG is “Ontario law”.  It is enacted in Ontario by the International Sales Conventions Act. There are a number of key differences between the Ontario Sale of Goods Act and the CISG.  One of the most notable is the obligation on the buyer to inspect goods (article 38) and give notice of any non-conformity (article 39).  The inspection obligation imposed by article 38 can have significant consequences: if the buyer fails to detect a lack of conformity … Read More

Court Considers When Jurisdiction May be Found Against Sole Officer And Director of Foreign Corporation

Andrew Ottaway, B.A. (Hons.), LL.B.Business Litigation, Civil Litigation, Commercial and Contract Litigation, Commercial Law, Commercial Litigation, Corporate Litigation, Directors' and Officers' Liability, Jurisdictional Challenges0 Comments

In Olympique CMCT Inc. v Les Industries Pancor Limitée, 2017 ONSC 1929, the Plaintiff, Olympique, was a Quebec company. Olympique obtained default judgment in a Quebec action against the Defendants Pancor, an insolvent Ontario company, and Panarese, Pancor’s sole officer and director.    Olympique brought an action in Ontario seeking recognition and enforcement of the Quebec judgment against Panarese in Ontario.  Panarese argued that Ontario should not enforce the Quebec judgment because, among other reasons, the Quebec Court did not have jurisdiction to grant the Quebec judgment against him. Panarese lived in Ontario.  Pancor was primarily located in Ontario.  However, the Court stated that it was sufficient that Quebec had a real and substantial connection with the subject matter of the action, even if it had no connection with Panarese.  The Court found that Panarese signed purchase orders which were transmitted to Olympique in Quebec, meaning that the contracts between Pancor and … Read More