Canada: Quebec : A Warning On The Scope Of A Lawyer's Duty To Advise

Last Updated: March 24 2017
Article by Jo-Anne Demers and Jean-Francois Landry

The Quebec Court of Appeal recently overturned a Superior Court ruling and found a lawyer and his firm jointly liable to pay nearly $7 million in damages as a result of his advice given to a former client and her company, in connection with investments in certain offshore funds. These later turned out to be a scheme by a financial services firm to defraud clients.

The case Matte-Thompson vs. Salomon concerns a widow, Judith Matte-Thompson, who, after her husband's death, regularly sought counsel from her family lawyer, Kenneth F. Salomon, about her role as estate beneficiary, trustee and liquidator of several companies — among them 166376 Canada inc. ("166"). Mr. Salomon strongly recommended that she consult a financial advisor — also a personal friend of his — by the name of Thémis Papadopoulos. Papadopoulos was head of the financial services firm Triglobal Capital Management ("Triglobal").

In 2004, based on the recommendation and advice of Papadopoulos, Ms. Matte-Thompson entrusted part of her personal savings in a Triglobal offshore fund. Over the following three years, she increased her transfers to various Triglobal offshore funds, which included assets of 166. In 2007, Papadopoulos and his partner, Mario Bright, disappeared. Investments of roughly $100 million from their clients, including 166 and Ms. Matte-Thompson, went missing.

Ms. Matte-Thompson and her company sued both Papadopoulos and Bright, personally and as 166's representatives, to recover their losses as a result of the Ponzi scheme. They also went after Mr. Salomon and his law firm, Sternthal Katznelson Montigny LLP, on the grounds that their conduct, advice and recommendations violated the professional industry standards.

At trial, the Superior Court found Papadopoulos and Bright to be fraudulent but dismissed the action against the lawyer and his firm. Although it acknowledged that Mr. Salomon and his firm were in breach of their professional duties to Ms. Matte-Thompson, it concluded that there was no causal link between their faults and the damages suffered by the Plaintiff. In the Court's view, she was the victim of a fraud carried out by Papadopoulos and Bright. What's more, the Court found that no fault was committed by Salomon with respect to 166 since Ms. Matte-Thompson was the one who took the initiative to transfer the sums to Triglobal. This was done without the advice of Mr. Salomon. The Court also ruled that Mr. Salomon could not be at fault as the losses resulted in later investments.

Ms. Matte-Thompson and 166 appealed the decision. The Court of Appeal overturned the trial judge's conclusions and held Salomon and his firm jointly liable.

First, the Court of Appeal found that it had been inadequate to assess the lawyer's liability and compartmentalizing it in a chronological timeline analysis of the different investments. Instead, it must look at M. Salomon's liability and that of his firm, globally, suggesting that the relevant events formed a continuum. It also determined that Mr. Salomon had failed in his duties of loyalty and independence, as well as in in his duty to provide advice to both Ms. Matte-Thompson and 166.

In reaching its decision, the Court of Appeal concluded that the faults had been perpetuated over the years, and applied the principles set out in Lacombe vs. André, finding that, although the fraudsters had committed subsequent faults, there had not been a rupture of the causal link between the lawyer's faults and losses suffered by Ms. Matte-Thompson and 166. Furthermore, the absence of simultaneity between the conduct of the fraudsters and the actions of Mr. Salomon has no grounds for exoneration.

The Court of Appeal concluded that the lawyer had repeatedly failed in his duties towards Ms. Matte-Thompson until Triglobal's major fraud was discovered. Ms. Matte-Thompson and the company would not have invested in Triglobal had Mr. Salomon complied with his duty to advise from the beginning. Accordingly, the losses she and 166 suffered had a logical, direct and immediate connection, not only to the fraudsters' actions but to Mr. Salomon and his firm as they were logically, directly and immediately related to his conduct and that of his firm, as well as that Mr. Papadopoulos and Mr. Bright. The Court therefore solidarily sentenced Mr. Solomon and his firm to pay nearly $7 million in compensatory damages.

In our view, the Court of Appeal's analysis tends to dispel notions surrounding causation by giving greater consideration to distant facts that played out over a sustained period of time. By treating different faults as forming part of a continuum, the Court is suggesting that it must give equal significance to different circumstances that ultimately lead to the injury.

It is surprising, though, that the Court of Appeal did not share the liability between Mr. Salomon and the fraudsters based on each wrongdoer's transgression. Even in the presence of contributory faults, it could have acknowledged that the actions of the fraudsters were more determinant than those committed by M. Salomon and his firm.

That said, the ruling is a reminder of the importance of a lawyer's professional obligations and stands as a clear warning to anyone who might be tempted to offer advice beyond the scope of their professional mandate.

Please note the Court of Appeal suspended execution of the judgment on March 10, 2017 until a decision is rendered on an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Quebec : A Warning On The Scope Of A Lawyer's Duty To Advise

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.

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.

Jo-Anne Demers
In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
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
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

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 or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq 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 of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions