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 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.