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Ontario Court Holds Law of Bangladesh Applies to Rana Plaza Collapse Claim

The Court of Appeal for Ontario has upheld a decision of the Superior Court of Justice dismissing a $2 billion claim against Loblaws relating to the 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Savar, Bangladesh.  In Das v George Weston Limited, 2018 ONCA 1053 (available here) the court concluded that the claims were governed by the law of Bangladesh (not Ontario).  It went on to conclude that most of the claims were statute barred under the Bangladeshi limitation period and that it was “plain and obvious” that the remaining claims would fail under Bangladeshi tort law.

New Canadian Framework for Assumption of Jurisdiction

After 13 months the Supreme Court of Canada has finally released its decisions in four appeals on the issue of the taking and exercising of jurisdiction.  The main decision is in Club Resorts Ltd v Van Breda (available here) which deals with two of the appeals.  The other two decisions are Breeden v Black (here) and Editions Ecosociete Inc v Banro Corp (here).

The result is perhaps reasonably straightforward: in all four cases the court upholds the decisions of both the motions judges and the Court of Appeal for Ontario.  All courts throughout held that Ontario had jurisdiction in these cases and that Ontario was not a forum non conveniens.

Supreme Court of Canada Affirms Importance of Jurisdiction Agreements

In Momentous.ca Corp v Canadian American Assn of Professional Baseball Ltd, 2012 SCC 9 (available here) the court has affirmed its willingness to give effect to exclusive jurisdiction agreements in favour of a foreign forum. 

The decision is brief (12 paragraphs) and was released only just over a month after the case was argued.  It is a unanimous decision by the seven judges. 

Academic commentary about the decision has been quite mixed.  I am not aware that anyone thinks the decision is wrong.  There is much consensus that the court reached the correct result: the defendant should have been able to rely on the jurisdiction agreement in favour of North Carolina to resist proceedings in Ontario.  But there is much disagreement about the quality of the brief reasons.

Quebec Court Refuses Jurisdiction on Forum of Necessity Basis

There has not been much to report from Canada for the past few months.  The Supreme Court of Canada’s jurisdiction decision in the Van Breda quartet of cases is still eagerly awaited.  There was some thought these decisions would be released by the end of February but it now appears that will not happen.  These cases were argued in March 2011.

Fortunately, Professor Genevieve Saumier of McGill University has written the following analysis of a recent Quebec Court of Appeal decision which might be of interest in other parts of the world.  The case is ACCI v. Anvil Mining Ltd., 2012 QCCA 117 and it is available here (though only in French, so I appreciate my colleague’s summary).  I am grateful to Professor Saumier for allowing me to post her analysis.

Jurisdiction in Cross-Border Libel Cases

The Court of Appeal for Ontario has released Paulsson v. Cooper, 2011 ONCA 150 (available here).  The plaintiff, an academic and author resident in Ontario, sued the defendants for publishing an allegedly libellous review of his book.  The defendant publisher was incorporated in New York and had its national office in Massachusetts.  The reviewer was an Australian academic.

The motions judge had held that Ontario lacked jurisdiction, but the Court of Appeal held that Ontario had jurisdiction and that no other forum was more appropriate for the resolution of the dispute.  The court found that there was a “real and substantial connection” to Ontario.  The court applied the orthodox analysis that the tort of libel was committed where the statement was read, and so had happened in Ontario.  In addition, the place of the damage was Ontario since that was where the plaintiff’s reputation was located.

Tourism and Jurisdiction to take Centre Stage in Supreme Court of Canada

On March 21, 22 and 25, 2011 the Supreme Court of Canada will hear appeals in four private international law cases.  Each is a case in which the Ontario court has held that it has jurisdiction to hear the dispute and that the proceedings should not be stayed in favour of another forum. 

Two of the cases – Van Breda (information here) and Charron (information here) – involve Ontarians who were killed or severely injured while on holiday in Cuba.  They now seek to sue various foreign defendants in Ontario.  These cases involve tourists in the traditional sense of the word.  Two of the cases – Banro (information here) and Black (information here) – involve claims for defamation over the internet and damage to reputation in Ontario.  There is some allegation that these cases involve what has become known as “libel tourism”, especially in England and in the United States.

Canadian Case on State Immunity

In Kazemi (Estate of) v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 2011 QCCS 196 (available here) the estate of Zahra Kazemi and her son, Stephan Kazemi, sued Iran and certain state officials in Quebec, alleging that in 2003 Ms. Kazemi was tortured and assassinated in Iran.  The defendants argued that the claim could not succeed due to state immunity. 

Much of the court’s analysis involves the provisions of the State Immunity Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. S-18.  The court has to consider whether this statute is a complete code on the issue of state immunity or whether it is open to courts to create exceptions to the statutory immunity beyond those listed in the statute.  The court also has to address whether aspects of the statute are constitutional.