This week, the Supreme Court issued several rulings, and
dismissed one application for leave to appeal, in cases likely to
be of interest to Canadian businesses and professionals.
The most eagerly awaited decision is likely McCormick v. Fasken Martineau Dumoulin
LLP, addressing the right of law firms to impose mandatory
retirement on their partners. The Court concluded that the
plaintiff, Mr. McCormick, could not take advantage of the B.C. Human Rights Code because —
in the circumstances of the case — he could
not be characterized as an "employee" of
his law firm. The Court was careful to note that, in other
circumstances, a partner might be an employee of a law firm, and
therefore able to assert rights under the Code. In
any event, Mr. McCormick enjoyed the protection of the fiduciary
duties owed to him by his partners. The Court concluded,
however, that these duties had not been
[A]bsent special circumstances, it is difficult to see how the
duty of good faith would preclude a partnership from instituting an
equity divestment policy designed to benefit all partners by
ensuring the regenerative turnover of partnership shares.
The Court also issued its ruling in Canadian National Railway Co. v. Canada
(Attorney General), confirming that, in circumstances
where the federal Governor in Council (i.e., the cabinet)
exercises its statutory jurisdiction, on a point of
law, to vary a decision of the Canadian Transportation Agency
— relating to transportation tariffs — the cabinet
decision is entitled to deference and should be judicially reviewed
on the liberal standard of reasonableness.
The Court had previously issued a ruling from the
Bench — with written reasons to follow
– overturning the decision of the
Federal Court of Appeal in Canadian Artists' Representation v.
National Gallery of Canada. The majority of the FCA
had concluded that the Gallery had not breached
any duty to negotiate in good faith vis-à-vis fees
for the right to make use of existing works of art.
Pending the release of the Supreme Court's reasons, the
parties' facta can be found here, and a recording of the hearing can be
In addition, the Supreme Court refused leave to
appeal from MHR Board Game Design Inc., Marc Ribeiro v.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, a ruling in which the
Ontario Court of Appeal had dismissed an entrepreneur's claim
relating to his unsuccessful appearance on "Dragons'
Den." In light of the agreement signed by the plaintiff,
his allegations of breach of contract, defamation, negligence and
injurious falsehood could not be sustained.
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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