A Commentary on Recent Legal Developments by the Opinions Group
of McCarthy Tétrault LLP
The Supreme Court of Canada heard arguments in a few cases
likely to be of interest to Canadian businesses and
In Sovereign General Insurance Company v.
Autorité des marchés financiers, the Court
was asked to consider whether s. 482 of Quebec's Act respecting
the distribution of financial products and services (the
"Act") – which prohibits an insurer from
facilitating a contravention of the Act — creates a strict
liability offence or requires proof of specific intent.The case
arises from charges against Sovereign (who is authorized to offer
insurance in Quebec) for using a broker who is not licenced in
Quebec. My colleague, Rachel Laferriere, had previously written a
post in respect of the Quebec Supreme Court decision.
The Court also heard arguments in Patricia McLean v. Executive Director of the
British Columbia Securities Commission.This case involves
the interpretation of a limitation provision in B.C's
Securities Act which prohibits a proceeding commenced "more
than 6 years after the date of the events that give rise to the
proceedings".In this case, the appellant entered into a
settlement agreement with the OSC pertaining to acts which were
outside the six-year window.Another proceeding was commenced
against the appellant within the six year period following the
settlement agreement.The Court will determine whether the
limitation period is measured from the date of the settlement
agreement or the date of the underlying acts which formed the
subject of the settlement.My colleague, Elder Marques, had
previously written a
post on the leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada
The Court also refused leave in Philip Morris Products S.A., Rothmans, Benson
& Hedges Inc. v. Marlboro Canada Limited, Imperial Tobacco
Canada Limited.In this case, the Federal Court of Appeal
had ruled that a company's design trademark had infringed a
competitor's word trademark.Thus, the Supreme Court was asked
— but declined — to consider the intriguing question of
whether a validly registered trade-mark can give rise to an
infringement, and whether design trademarks were to receive less
protection than word trademarks. My colleague, Daniel Glover, had
previously written a
post in respect of the Federal Court of Appeal decision.
In another case of relevance to businesses, the Court refused
leave in a Quebec case which raised the question of whether an
employer can eschew its notice obligations when terminating an
employee, on the basis of the employer's economic hardship: CMP Advanced Mechanical Solutions Ltd. v.
In Irwin v. Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, 2015 ABCA 396, the Alberta Court of Appeal found that the "ABVMA" failed to afford procedural fairness to a veterinarian undergoing an incapacity assessment.
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