Important changes have been made to Saskatchewan's Class
Actions Act (CAA) affecting all companies and other
organizations that are in any way involved in the distribution of
goods or services to the public.
Most companies now appreciate that they are exposed to class
actions in connection with many aspects of their business.
Saskatchewan is a favoured place for plaintiffs to start class
actions, even against companies that do only a small amount of
their total business in that province.
Until a recent amendment to Saskatchewan's CAA, applicants
for certification in Saskatchewan have been immune from costs in
most circumstances. The exposure to costs can make, in the words of
the Supreme Court of Canada, class actions litigation the
"sport of kings in the sense that only kings or equivalent can
afford it" (Kerr v Danier Leather Inc., 2007 SCC 44
at para 63) and can be a major deterrent against class actions in
some situations. Because of the near virtual immunity against
adverse costs awards, as well as other features of Saskatchewan
law, many plaintiffs chose to commence class actions in this
Amendments to Saskatchewan's CAA, expected to be proclaimed
into law this week, give Saskatchewan courts the right to make any
order of costs the court considers appropriate with respect to any
application, action or appeal pursuant to the CAA. This change
generally aligns Saskatchewan law with that in Alberta, Ontario,
Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
Saskatchewan's new costs provisions will apply to any
proceedings commenced, and costs incurred before, on or after this
new section came into force. The change in law has the potential to
put some check on plaintiffs' bringing claims of dubious
Many reasons remain why Saskatchewan is likely to continue as a
favoured jurisdiction for plaintiffs to commence class actions.
These reasons include that Saskatchewan costs awards are generally
much more modest than other provinces. Local procedures and a light
docket make access to the courts easier in Saskatchewan than in
some other jurisdictions. Perhaps most importantly,
Saskatchewan's ability to certify so-called
"national" classes that bind non-residents on an
"opt-out" basis, make the province an attractive forum to
pursue pan-Canadian actions.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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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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