Canada: Broken Break Fee: Investor's Claim For A Break Fee Denied In CCAA Proceeding

Last Updated: February 13 2017
Article by Jeffrey Levine, Tushara Weeasooriya and Christie Bates, Student-at-Law

A recent decision of the British Columbia Supreme Court serves as a reminder to take special care when structuring commercial transactions where the counterparty is in financial distress.  In League Assets Corp. Re.,1 an investment firm claimed a break fee on a deal that failed to close when the seller filed for protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act.2  The court dismissed the claim on the basis that the conditions to trigger the break fee were not met, notwithstanding that as a practical matter, the CCAA proceeding appears to have been an impediment to the conditions being fulfilled.


In May of 2013, ANB Canada Inc. and IGW Industrial Limited Partnership entered into an agreement of purchase and sale for a commercial property IGW owned.  IGW’s obligation to carry out the transaction was conditional upon ANB obtaining certain regulatory approvals and having the transaction close before the end of the year, among others conditions (the “Vendor’s Conditions”).  If IGW terminated the transaction for reasons other than the Vendor’s Conditions not being satisfied, ANB was entitled to a $500,000 break fee.

Six months later, before closing, IGW filed for creditor protection under the CCAA. As usual, the initial order provided for a stay of execution on rights against IGW, and prevented ANB from taking any steps that would negatively affect any of IGW’s rights under the agreement of purchase and sale.  Upon its filing, IGW was also subject to section 32 of the CCAA requiring it to follow a specific process before any agreement, including the agreement with ANB, could be validly disclaimed.

December 31, 2013 came and went, and the agreement between ANB and IGW did not close. Further, ANB did not pursue any discussions with the Monitor or apply to the Court to force a completion of the agreement. Later, in accordance with the claims process order, ANB claimed the break fee as a result of the agreement’s alleged termination.

Decision of the Court

The Court denied the claim, ruling that no break fee was payable.

ANB’s claim turned on whether IGW terminated the agreement for reasons other than the Vendor’s Conditions not being satisfied.  ANB claimed that termination had been affected by the express notice of IGW’s CEO and IGW’s and the Monitor’s implied conduct.

While the Court reviewed the alleged express notice and implied conduct, it held that such notice and conduct could not have resulted in a valid repudiation by IGW of the agreement with ANB.  Rather, because IGW was subject to the CCAA, statutory provisions and provisions of the initial order meant to protect stakeholders applied.  ANB’s agreement with IGW could be validly terminated only if the procedure in section 32 of the CCAA was followed.

Section 32 of the CCAA provides that, so long as the monitor approves, a debtor company may – on notice given in the prescribed form and manner to the other parties to the agreement and the monitor – disclaim or resiliate any agreement to which the company is a party on the day on which proceedings commence under the Act.  Regulation 14 of the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Regulations sets out the required form and manner of notice.  IGW had not given notice of repudiation through the prescribed form as required by s. 32 CCAA.  Further, the Monitor had not consented to the disclaimer.  As such, the Court concluded that there had been no valid repudiation.

In the end, the Court found that the termination of the agreement arose solely by reason of the non-fulfillment of the Vendor’s Conditions and ANB’s claim was dismissed.

Challenges of Dealing With a CCAA Debtor

There were principally two unfulfilled Vendor’s Conditions that resulted in the termination of the agreement between IGW and ANB.  First, ANB did not get regulatory approval of the deal.  Second, the deal did not close before December 31, 2013.

As ANB explained in a letter to IGW after the CCAA filing, it was very unlikely that the requisite regulatory approval could have been obtained for the transaction because of IGW’s insolvency.  On the record, no one contracted this view.  And with respect to the closing by the end of 2013, objectively speaking it would have been an optimistic target once IGW obtained protection under the CCAA.  In short, It seems that upon IGW’s CCAA filing, there was little ANB could do to protect its break fee.

A break fee is designed to protect the costs of a party that invests material time and expense into negotiating the transaction and carrying out requisite due diligence.  Generally, a break fee will be payable where the deal does not go through for reasons outside the party’s control.  In League Assets (Re), it was arguably the insolvency of the vendor that broke up the deal, and yet the purchaser got nothing for the time and expense invested into the transaction.  Likely, the purchaser expected something more than that.

The decision thus serves as a reminder that the prospect for an insolvency filing by a party accepting an obligation to pay a break fee ought to be considered in any commercial transaction. The terms of the deal might then be crafted so that the break fee is payable where closing is no longer practically, even if it is perhaps still technically, possible on the terms and schedule anticipated when the deal documents were signed.


1 League Assets Corp. Re, 2016 BCSC 2262

2 Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, RSC 1985, c. C-36

The foregoing provides only an overview and does not constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal advice should be obtained.

© McMillan LLP 2017

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Jeffrey Levine
Christie Bates, Student-at-Law
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.