This Week at the SCC (11/04/2014)

This week, the Supreme Court of Canada granted leave to appeal in one case, and denied leave to appeal in two other cases, all likely to be of interest to Canadian business.

The Court granted leave to appeal from the Alberta ruling in Atco Gas and Pipelines Ltd. v Alberta, 2013 ABCA 310.   Under the applicable regime for setting consumer rates, the Alberta Utilities Commission has the power to consider expenditures undertaken by the regulated company.  At issue was the extent to which the cost-of-living adjustments owing under the company's pension plans could be claimed by the company.  The Commission had characterized as excessive the company's claim relating to its COLA obligations.  The Court of Appeal had confirmed the ruling of the Commission.

(By order of the Court, the Atco appeal will be heard together with the parallel Ontario appeal from Power Workers' Union (Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 1000) v. Ontario, 2013 ONCA 359.  The Supreme Court had separately granted leave to appeal the Ontario ruling several weeks ago.)

The Supreme Court refused leave to appeal the ruling of the Quebec Court of Appeal in Benedetti c. Syndicat des chargées et chargés de cours de l'UQAM (CSN), 2013 QCCA 2088.   That case focused on a union's "duty to represent" one of its members.  The union refused to refer the member's grievance to arbitration on the grounds that it had no chance of success.  Following a judicial review, and several appeals, the Court of Appeal confirmed the initial ruling that the union had acted improperly.

Lastly, the Court refused leave to appeal from the Ontario ruling  in Western Larch Limited v. Di Poce Management Limited, 2013 ONCA 722.   A partnership agreement included a buy-sell "shotgun clause," and a dispute arose as to whether or not an offer under that clause had been properly made.  The motions judge had ruled the offer to be valid and effective (although it did not perfectly comply with the terms found in the clause).   The Court of Appeal affirmed this ruling, finding that the threshold of "strict compliance" had been satisfied.

The McCarthy Tétrault Opinions Group consists of members of the firm’s litigation department whose practices focus on written advocacy and the provision of strategic advice and opinions in the context of complex business disputes and transactions. The members of the Opinions Group are Anthony Alexander, Martin Boodman, Brandon Kain, Hovsep Afarian and Kirsten Thompson.

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