On April 11, 2014, the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench
released its decision refusing to certify a class action because
the proposed representative plaintiffs lacked even a basic
understanding of their roles and responsibilities. In Sullivan v Golden Intercapital Investments
Corporation, the plaintiffs were customers of GIC, a company
offering refinancing to individuals facing foreclosure. The
plaintiffs alleged various unfair business practises and breaches
of fiduciary duties by GIC, its sole director, and numerous lawyers
who had advised GIC customers.
Suitability of representative plaintiffs
As in all provinces except Prince Edward Island, the Alberta Class Proceedings Act
("CPA") requires that representative plaintiffs be able
to "adequately and fairly" conduct the litigation
on behalf of the class. Here, the plaintiffs were found to
lack the most basic appreciation of their role in the
litigation. Specifically, the plaintiffs did not meaningfully
understand their potential liability for legal costs, or their
responsibilities as representative plaintiffs, including the
requirement to create a litigation plan.
The Court emphasized that the inability of a plaintiff to pay
costs is not an absolute bar to suitability, but states the
awareness of costs is a factor to be considered and should be
explored between representative plaintiffs and their counsel.
This decision demonstrates that in class proceedings,
representative plaintiffs must be capable of properly instructing
their counsel, and vigorously act on behalf of the entire class.
While this issue is occasionally raised, certification is rarely
denied due to the lack of a plaintiff's understanding of the
proceedings, as it was here. In similar circumstances, a Court
could grant a certification order conditional on the representative
plaintiffs informing themselves of their responsibilities or other
We look forward to seeing whether this decision is followed in
future certification applications.
It's not often that our little blog intersects with such titanic struggles as the U.S. presidential race – and by using the term "titanic" I certainly don't mean to suggest that anything disastrous is in the future.
J.J. v. C.C., is an interesting case in which the court held that an automotive garage owes a duty to minor children to secure the vehicles on the premises by locking the cars and safely storing the car keys...
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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