Class Actions


Lavery has been handling class actions for over 30 years. The firm sets itself apart by its multidisciplinary approach, the breadth of its expertise and its thorough understanding of the reality in which its clients carry on business. Our team is often solicited for major cases involving complex issues. We know how to act quickly in response to the media’s interest in any eventual proceedings. We don’t just provide legal services; we provide strategic advice tailored to our client’s needs ensuring that the integrity of its business is properly defended.

Our team is equipped with a solid grasp of the Quebec class action regime. We have access to an extensive network of partners that allows us to act in a concerted fashion globally and remain up to date on the latest trends in class actions. Lavery’s expertise in this field is recommended by the Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory.

Lavery acts both preventively and in defense of your interests. Our team can of course help defend your rights before the courts, but it can also advise you with respect to drafting contracts, making representations to the public, devising best practices regarding governance and business integrity or complying with the relevant regulatory framework, to minimize vulnerability to class actions.

We are:

  • Seasoned lawyers who regularly handle class actions and provide strategic advice tailored to your sector of activities.
  • A dedicated team where the group as well as several individual members are recommended in the Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory and The Best Lawyers in Canada, for multi-jurisdictional and cross-border class actions.
  • Strategically located in four offices across the province of Quebec, with an advanced understanding of local particularities and issues.

Our vision

To mobilize an agile and committed team that works both before and after legal proceedings are instituted. This is why our professionals:

  • Advise to prevent risks that might open the door to class actions;
  • Act proactively so that they are ready to deploy an effective defence strategy as soon as an action is instituted, whether before the courts, in the media, or in relation to government bodies;
  • Quickly determine the resources needed to present an effective defence at every stage (preliminary exceptions, authorization, on the merits, recovery, settlement);
  • Propose creative and innovative solutions tailored to the specific needs of your circumstances;
  • Have a thorough knowledge of the particularities of the Quebec class action regime and its developments;
  • Benefit from an excellent network throughout Canada and internationally so that they can coordinate the defence of national or transnational class actions;
  • Optimize information, document, and digital data management to ensure the effective and beneficial control and use  of the evidence;
  • Minimize the impact of a class action on your business, in particular with respect to issue and crisis management;
  • Offer guidance to management on business integrity issues;
  • Work with you for a successful outcome, as quickly as possible;

Act in a concerted manner with a depth of consideration unparalleled in the market.

Our team is multi-talented and well-versed in several fields of law and can support clients in a wide range of areas and industries included but not limited to:

  • Agri-food and food products
  • Competition law
  • Consumer law
  • Directors & Officers Liability
  • Environment
  • Financial products and services
  • Health law and pharmaceutical law
  • Insurance
  • Labour law and pension plans
  • Liability for historic social wrongs
  • Privacy and defamation
  • Product liability
  • Securities law

Representative mandates

For a list of our representative mandates, please click here.

Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory

  1. Class actions to watch in 2024

    Quebec is a fertile ground for class actions, with over 550 active cases and between 50 to 100 applications for authorization filed each year. While 2023 marked the fifth anniversary of the “new” class action division: what is there to watch in 2024? Read on to find out. Opioids and the State: Sanis Health v. British Columbia Can a state be a plaintiff to a class action? Can it be the plaintiff to a class action in another state? Can it be a class member in another state? In 2018, British Columbia adopted the Opioid Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act1 [ORA] allowing the government to institute class action proceedings regarding “opioid-related wrongs.” This was modelled after an earlier legislation targeting “tobacco-related wrongs,”2 the constitutionality of which had been upheld by the Supreme Court.3 The ORA, however, allowed not only British Columbia to institute such proceedings, but also, provided it had commenced such an action, to bring it forward “on behalf of a class consisting of one or more of the governments of Canada and the provinces or territories of Canada.”4 The constitutionality of this provision was challenged, without success in the first instance5 and on appeal.6 Though the Court of Appeal upheld the validity of the provision, it did characterize it as “a bold step, if not an experiment, in bringing government-led class litigation as close as possible to truly “national” proceedings in Canada’s federal structure.”7 This boldness snowballed: Similar laws have been adopted throughout Canada.8 Unsurprisingly, the Supreme Court of Canada has granted leave.9 A hearing should be scheduled in 2024. Relatedly, in Quebec, the parties are awaiting judgment on an application for authorization to institute a class action against several pharmaceutical companies10 relating to the manufacturing, marketing, distribution and sale of opioids. In this case, the plaintiff is seeking to represent all persons in Quebec who suffer, or has suffered, from opioid use disorder following the use of prescription opioids since 1996. It is now settled law that one person may sue several defendants in a single action regarding an allegedly common practice even if that person does not have a direct cause of action against each defendant, provided that the proposed representative is otherwise able to adequately represent the members who do.11 It remains to be seen whether the representative plaintiff put forward in this case will be able to fulfill his role against approximately 20 companies having marketed more than 150 different products over more than 25 years. Jurisdiction over foreign defendants Are allegations sufficient to establish the jurisdiction of Quebec authorities over foreign defendants that are distinct from their Quebec subsidiaries?12 And if so, how should the geographical limits of the putative class members be defined? In the Bourgeois case, the proposed representative, a Quebec resident, is seeking authorization to institute a class action against several companies that develop and market video games with a “loot box” mechanism, which he claims constitutes a form of illegal gaming. Putative class members are not limited to Quebec residents such as himself. Moreover, many of the respondents are foreign companies, and some have no establishment in Quebec. Some of these foreign entities filed a declinatory exception, which the court dismissed. An appeal was filed, which includes arguments that the dismissal of the declinatory exception unduly broadened the definition of “establishment” within the meaning of article 3148 C.C.Q. Will the Court of Appeal give guidelines for determining whether such an issue should be addressed at the authorization stage? We should know soon as the Court of Appeal is expected to render judgment on this matter within the coming months. The appeal was heard on February 2, 2024. In 2023, the Quebec Court of Appeal had closed the door on the use of the guiding principles of procedure to broaden the scope of its jurisdiction.13 Earlier in the year, the British Columbia Court of Appeal had ruled that it had no jurisdiction over a class action relating to misrepresentations made outside its territory for lack of a “real and substantial connection”,14 and the Ontario Superior Court had followed suit.15 Clearly, class action law and private international law continue to cross paths, if not swords. More than 10 years later16 The majority of class actions are settled before they reach the merits. The same cannot be said for the case involving the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, in which the Court of Appeal is slated to hear the case on liability of certain defendant this year. On July 6, 2013, at 1:14 a.m., downtown Lac-Mégantic was set ablaze after a tank car train derailed. Images of the derailment were broadcast around the world. A class action ensued, filed on July 15, 2013. Authorized on June 8, 2015,17 it was joined with two civil suits, one instituted by the Attorney General of Québec [translation] “for all of the damages suffered by the Quebec State as a result of the tragedy,” estimated at over $231,000,000, and the other by a group of insurers.18 These proceedings were also split in order to first address the liability of the defendants Montreal, Maine & Atlantic [MMA] and Canadian Pacific [CP].19 On December 14, 2022, after a 63-day trial, spanning nine months, the Superior Court did not hold CP liable for the derailment, finding only MMA liable.20 Appeals were filed by both sides in January 2023, suspending the continuation of the trial for the remainder of the case.21 As the appeal materials were filed in the fall of 2023, there should be a hearing in 2024. Class counsel or representative’s counsel?22 Are the lawyers of the representative also those of the class? A trial judgment suggests that they should be considered so if it is in the interest of the class. The Court of Appeal will be ruling on this issue. The Court of Appeal may be called on to rule on this recurrent point of contention between lawyers who act mainly for the plaintiffs and those who act mainly for the defendants: does class counsel have a direct relationship with the members of the class, or is their legal relationship thereto contingent on the relationship they have with the representative? Labour law in Canada’s major junior hockey leagues gives the case its backdrop. Around 2020, the parties to three certified class actions, one in Alberta, one in Ontario and one in Quebec,23 agreed to a settlement that included a release. The scope of said release was the stumbling block—the three courts involved refused to approve the transaction and sent the parties back to the drawing board.24 A new release under the same agreement was drawn up in 2023. It was signed by the two representatives of the Quebec class, Lukas Walter and Thomas Gobeil, on May 9 and June 5, 2023. A date was then set for approval. In a surprising turn of events, on June 14, 2023, Walter and Gobeil informed their lawyers that they no longer agreed to the amended transaction, and notices of revocation of mandate were sent out a few days before the scheduled hearing date. Class counsel, claiming the need to safeguard the interests of the class members, asked the Court to reject the notices of revocation.25 The text of article 576 C.C.P. is unequivocal: the court appoints the representative. It is also clear from case law that it is the representative plaintiff who mandates counsel, not the reverse.26 Because the representative plaintiff is entitled to the counsel of his or her choice, like any other litigant, Walter and Gobeil were in principle entitled to revoke the mandates of their lawyers, even though said lawyers had been involved from the outset of the case. The matter complexifies when one considers the interests of the class members, as the trial judge writes: [translation] “Who will act in the case and whom will they be representing?”27 Possibly to assuage both sides, she acknowledged the revocation of mandate, but confirmed that the lawyers would continue to represent the class, stating that they [translation] “must uphold their duty to represent the class and present the terms of the settlement agreement as amended for approval.”28 In other words, she considered that class counsel had a direct relationship with the class. Needless to say, the case was appealed. The hearing on leave to appeal took place on February 29, 2024. Price higher than advertised: where’s the harm? What burden is imposed on plaintiffs who wish to institute proceedings under section 224(c) of the Consumer Protection Act, prohibiting the practice of hidden charges or drip pricing? A trial judgment states that the mere finding of a prohibited practice is not sufficient to prove actual harm. For the first time in reported case law, the Court of Appeal will consider a judgment on the merits dealing with the application of article 224(c) of the Consumer Protection Act. In this case, Union des consommateurs claims that Air Canada, during the first stage of an online ticket purchase process, failed to indicate the amount of taxes, fees, charges and surcharges included in the final price charged, thereby violating applicable legislation. Union des consommateurs is seeking a reduction in the price paid by members of the class corresponding to the sum of the charges, as well as punitive damages of $10 million. The Superior Court found that Air Canada had indeed advertised a price lower than that ultimately charged to class members. This finding of fault, however, did not relieve the plaintiff of the burden of proving actual harm. Because Air Canada demonstrated that there were clearly visible warnings that the advertised prices did not include all of the fees charged, the Court concluded that the prohibited practice was not likely to influence the formation of the contract.29 Since no harm has been demonstrated, no compensatory damages were awarded. As for punitive damages, the evidence did not show that Air Canada had engaged in “conduct […] which display[ed] ignorance, carelessness or serious negligence”. Moreover, Air Canada had ceased engaging in the contentious practice before the class action was authorized. The appeal was lodged on December 28, 2022, and should be heard this year. The upcoming decision will have a significant impact on a number of ongoing class actions under section 224(c) CPA. The decision will certainly shed some interesting light on the required proof of actual harm and the impact of the prohibited practice on consumers’ purchasing decisions. Devaluation of taxi licenses Will the Superior Court find that by adopting the Act respecting remunerated passenger transportation by automobile,30 the Quebec government expropriated taxi owners without paying fair and reasonable compensation? From April 1 to 24, 2024, the Superior Court will hear a class action on the revenue decline in the taxi industry attributed to the arrival of Uber, an online transportation platform having transformed the urban travel landscape by connecting users with independent drivers via a mobile app. The class action was authorized in 2018.31 The representative, who holds a taxi license, represents a group of taxi drivers and owners. He alleges that his loss of income and the depreciation in the value of his permits were caused by the legislator’s authorization of Uber’s business activities. He argues that the exemption provided to Uber by the law relative to taxi permit fees and the non-regulation of fares for its drivers have enabled Uber to charge far lower fares than those that regulated taxi operators charge. In this case, it will be interesting to see whether the Superior Court will apply the foundations of expropriation law to the class, which establish that no expropriation can take place without compensation for property rights. Member participation and class counsel’s fee to impose conditions relating to class counsel’s fees Can the Court make the full payment of the plaintiff’s lawyer fees contingent on achieving a certain level of participation of members of the class, even though it has already held that the fees agreed to in the settlement agreement were reasonable? Following the authorization of a class action on the false or misleading use of the word “champagne” by an airline that rather served a sparkling wine,32 the parties agreed to a settlement awarding the class members a 7% discount on their next purchase to be made within the next three years, without any restrictions. The settlement also provided for the payment of $1,500,000 to the class counsel, the reimbursement of expert fees and an envelope of up to $20,000 to maximize the settlement’s visibility on social media, without affecting the 7% compensation offered to members. The judgment approving the settlement authorizes the immediate payment of $751,450 to class counsel but makes payment of the balance conditional on achieving a participation rate of 50% of members, or 469,398 claims.33 The plaintiff applied for and obtained leave to appeal the decision.34 He also applied for the revocation, rectification and clarification of the judgment, in particular on the grounds that, under article 593 C.C.P., final payment of professional fees cannot be made conditional on achieving a recovery rate, and that the 50% rate is excessive. Only the second ground of the application was allowed, and the 50% participation rate was reduced to 10%, or 93,880 claims.35 The plaintiff has appealed this second decision. The judgment granting him leave to do so has been joined to the two appeals,36 and the factums are slated to be submitted in 2024. A number of decisions have already suggested that there needs to be a correlation between the professional fees of class counsel and participation of members in the benefits negotiated for them.37 The Court of Appeal’s upcoming ruling is certain to have significant implications on future settlements, and it will provide an interesting perspective on the discretionary power of trial judges to impose conditions relating to plaintiffs’ lawyers’ fees. Greenwashing: can a class action help the environment? Will the Superior Court authorize a class action on a misrepresentation that certain bags are recyclable?38 Does consumer law provide an entry for asking the courts to address environmental concerns? In recent years, many businesses have adopted environmental, social and governance practices (better known by the acronym ESG), often specifically performance criteria in these areas. However, some observers question the sincerity of these actions and sometimes consider them to be public relations schemes rather than genuine efforts on the part of businesses to reduce their environmental footprint or improve their social impact. This context will make it interesting to follow the progress of a class action on misleading representations concerning bags, which a number of superstores present as “recyclable,” when in fact they are only reusable as they are discarded by recycling plants in Quebec. If this class action is authorized, it could pave the way for further similar actions. Businesses that have adopted ESG practices and have made their commitment public should pay attention to the outcome of this case. SBC 2018, c 35. Tobacco Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act, SBC 2000, c. 30. British Columbia v. Imperial Tobacco Ltd, 2005 SCC 49. Sandoz Canada Inc. v. British Columbia, 2023 BCCA 306, para. 2. British Columbia v. Apotex Inc., 2022 BCSC 2147. Sandoz Canada Inc. v. British Columbia, 2023 BCCA 306. Sandoz Canada Inc. v. British Columbia, 2023 BCCA 306, para. 3. Québec being the last one with the Opioid-related Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act, SQ 2023, c 25, having been assented to and having come into force on November 2, 2023. Sanis Health Inc. v. British Columbia, SCC 40864 (November 9, 2023). Of the initial thirty-four defendants, a certain number agreed to settle out of court. Lavery, de Billy represents one of these defendants. Bank of Montreal v. Marcotte, 2014 SCC 55, para. 43. Bourgeois c. Electronics Arts Inc., 2023 QCCS 1011, leave to appeal granted: Electronics Arts Inc. c. Bourgeois, 2023 QCCA 826, only judge. Otsuka Pharmaceutical Company Limited c. Pohoresky, 2022 QCCA 1230, leave to appeal denied: SCC 40452 (May 25, 2023). Hershey Company v. Leaf, 2023 BCCA 264. Gebien v. Apotex Inc., 2023 ONSC 6792. Lavery, de Billy represented one of the defendants between 2013 and 2016. Ouellet c. Rail World inc., 2015 QCCS 2002, amended by Ouellet c. Canadian Pacific Railway Company, 2016 QCCS 5087. Ouellet c. Compagnie de chemin de fer Canadien Pacifique, 2017 QCCS 5674. Two other civil cases were suspended in the wake of these three cases, one by the same judgment, the other by 9020-1468 Québec inc. c. Canadian Pacific Railway Company, 2019 QCCS 366. Ouellet c. Compagnie de chemin de fer Canadien Pacifique, 2017 QCCS 5674. Ouellet c. Compagnie de chemin de fer Canadien Pacifique, 2022 QCCS 4643. Since June 30, 2023 article 211 C.C.P. prohibits the immediate appeal of a judgment rendered in a split proceeding that does not terminate the proceeding; there was therefore no reason to consider the consequences of possible asymmetry in res judicata in the case of a judgment that only partially puts an end to such a proceeding. Walter c. Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Inc., 2023 QCCS 3655. Walter v. Western Hockey league, 2017 ABQB 382; Berg v. Canadian Hockey League, 2017 ONSC 2608 and Walter c. Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Inc., 2019 QCCS 2334. Walter c. Western Hockey League, 2020 ABQB 631; Berg v. Canadian Hockey League, 2020 ONSC 6389 and Walter c. Ligue de hockey junior majeur du Québec Inc. 2020 QCCS 3724. Walter c. Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Inc., 2023 QCCS 3655, para. 13. Deraspe c. Zinc électrolytique du Canada ltée, 2018 QCCA 256, paras. 38 et s. Walter c. Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Inc., 2023 QCCS 3655, para. 23. Walter c. Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Inc., 2023 QCCS 3655, para. 24. Union des consommateurs c. Air Canada, 2022 QCCS 4254, para. 113, quoting to Richard v. Time Inc., 2012 SCC 8, para. 125. Act respecting remunerated passenger transportation by automobile, CQLR c. T-11.2. Metellus c. Procureure générale du Québec, 2018 QCCS 4626. Macduff c. Vacances Sunwing inc., 2018 QCCS 1510. MacDuff c. Vacances Sunwing inc., 2023 QCCS 343. MacDuff c. Vacances Sunwing inc.,2023 QCCA 476, only judge. MacDuff c. Vacances Sunwing inc., 2023 QCCS 4125. MacDuff c. Vacances Sunwing inc., 2024 QCCA 61, only judge. E.g., Daunais c. Honda Canada inc., 2022 QCCS 2485, paras. 132–133. Cohen c. Dollarama et al., SC 500-06-001200-225.

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  2. Insurers: Two-headed hydras

    On January 30, 2023, the Court of Appeal of Quebec rendered a decision in Commission scolaire De La Jonquière c. Intact Compagnie d’assurance.1 The key issues in this case are the potential for conflicts arising from liability insurance policies and the obligation to disclose documents where insurers’ duty to defend conflicts with their duty to indemnify insureds. The facts This case is part of a class action in which all Quebec school boards—now referred to as school service centres (SSCs)—were accused of violating the right to free elementary and secondary education. As part of this class action, the SSCs brought an action in warranty against their insurers, seeking compensation for any amount they may be required to pay. The insurers acknowledged their obligation to defend the appellants in the main proceedings; however, they argued that the claim was not covered by the insurance contract. Following negotiations, the parties to the class action reached a settlement. The action in warranty against the insurers is still pending. At the examination for discovery stage of the action in warranty, the insurers asked to obtain a copy of all communications exchanged between the appellants and their counsel since the beginning of the main proceedings. The SSCs objected to this request on the basis of professional secrecy and litigation privilege. The Court therefore had to rule on the merits of the objection. The trial Drawing on the decision in Domtar2, the Superior Court dismissed the SSCs’ objection, holding that they had waived their right to assert solicitor-client privilege regarding anything relating to the reasonableness of the settlement. It appears that the Court inferred this waiver from certain allegations made and from the disclosure of certain documents as part of the action in warranty. The Court concluded that the appellants had to provide the insurers with the documents, risk analyses, letters, exchanges with the appellants and expert opinions having related to the reasonableness of the settlement since the beginning of the main proceedings. However, according to the Court of Appeal, the Court failed to provide a framework for such disclosure of information and to grant the SSCs the right to raise new objections in relation to said documents. The appeal The Court of Appeal considered the conflicts that may arise from the dual responsibility of insurers: their duty to defend insureds and their duty to indemnify them. In this regard, it described liability insurers and their role as follows: [20] The liability insurer is effectively a two-headed hydra: A type of two-headed creature with a single corporate identity, but where one head handles the insured’s defence and the other protects the insurer’s financial interests by ensuring that it only pays out for covered losses.[21] Each head must base its decisions on the interest it is defending and the information available to it. The two heads must remain separate in order to give effect to the insurance contract. […] The risk of a conflict of interest is therefore very real, which is why the insurer must put measures in place to ensure that it complies with the coverage provided by the policy, while also ensuring the full and complete defence of the insured.] As for the ethical obligations of the lawyer mandated by the insurer to represent the insured, the Court stated that the lawyer becomes the insured’s counsel in all respects and owes the insured absolute loyalty. As such, the right to professional secrecy in the insured’s relationship with the lawyer can be set up against the insurer. That being said, the lawyer must report on the progress of the case to the head of the hydra handling the insured’s defence. The Court then stated that it was essential in this context that the information thus obtained be accessible only to that head, and that the insurer put in place the necessary measures to keep the two heads separate. The Court of Appeal found that the trial judge did not err in concluding that the SSCs were required to provide the evidence necessary to examine the reasonableness of the settlement reached with the insurers. However, in order to do so, an exemption mechanism could be implemented, giving the SSCs the possibility to object to the disclosure of certain information. The Court also confirmed that there was no basis for concluding that the appellants had waived solicitor-client or litigation privilege with respect to all of their exchanges with their counsel. This information must remain protected by professional secrecy and therefore cannot be disclosed to the person at the insurer’s office in charge of the compensation file. The same goes for the accounts for fees, reports, opinions and other documents sent to the person at the insurer’s office handling the defence, unless the insured waives this right. Conclusion This case highlights the conflicts that can arise from the duality of insurers’ responsibilities and the distinction between insurers’ obligation to defend insureds and their obligation to indemnify them. Although the Court ruled that evidence aimed at verifying the reasonableness of a settlement from a qualitative and quantitative standpoint should be disclosed, it concluded that certain information and documents that are strictly relevant to insureds’ defence need not be disclosed. In so doing, it reiterated insurers’ dual responsibility and the importance of keeping the two heads separate when an insurer agrees to take on an insured’s defence, but maintained its refusal to indemnify the insured. Commission scolaire De La Jonquière c. Intact Compagnie d’assurance, 2023 QCCA 124. Chubb Insurance company of Canada c. Domtar, 2017 QCCA 1004.

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  3. Loss of personal information: The Superior Court dismisses a class action

    On March 26, 2021, the Superior Court rendered a decision dismissing a class action against the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (“IIROC”) on the loss of personal information of thousands of Canadian investors.1 The lack of evidence of compensable injury and IIROC’s diligent behaviour are the main reasons for the dismissal of the class action. The Facts On February 22, 2013, an inspector working for IIROC forgot his laptop computer in a public place. The computer, which contained the personal information of approximately 50,000 Canadians, was never found. The information had originally been collected by various securities brokers who were under inspection by IIROC. Mr. Lamoureux, whose personal information was on the computer, brought a class action on behalf of all persons whose personal information was lost in the incident. He claimed compensatory damages for the stress, anxiety and worries associated with the loss of personal information, as well as compensation for the injury associated with the identity theft or attempted identity theft of members. He also claimed punitive damages for unlawful and intentional infringement of the right to privacy protected by the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. On this point, the members claimed that IIROC had been reckless and had delayed in notifying affected persons and brokers, as well as relevant authorities. Decision The class action is dismissed in its entirety. Compensatory damages The Superior Court started by acknowledging IIROC’s admission that it was at fault for the loss of the computer, and that the computer was not encrypted as it should have been to comply with IIROC policies. With respect to compensatory damages, the Court reiterated the principle according to which the existence of fault does not presume the existence of injury; each case must be analyzed on the basis of the evidence.2 In this case, the injury alleged by the members can be summarized as follows: They suffered worry, anger, stress and anxiety about the incident. They were forced to monitor their financial accounts, and in particular their credit cards and bank accounts. They were inconvenienced and wasted time in having to deal with credit agencies and ensuring that their personal information was protected. They felt shame and suffered delays caused by identity checks on their credit applications attributable to flags on their files. In its analysis, the Court held that, apart from the fact that the members were generally troubled by the loss of their personal information, there was no evidence of any particular and significant difficulties related to their mental state. Relying on Mustapha v. Culligan of Canada Ltd.,3 the Court reiterated that “the law does not recognize upset, disgust, anxiety, agitation or other mental states that fall short of injury.” If the injury is not serious and prolonged, and is limited to ordinary discomforts and fears that are inherent to life in society, it does not constitute compensable injury. In this case, the Court found that the negative feelings experienced as a result of the loss of personal information did not rise above the level of ordinary discomforts, anxieties and fears that people living in society routinely accept. Having to monitor one’s personal accounts more closely does not qualify as a compensable injury, as the courts equate this practice with that of [translation] “a reasonable person who protects their assets.”4 The Court also considered the fact that IIROC provided members with free credit monitoring and protection services. It thus concluded that, in this respect, there was no injury to compensate. Finally, the experts who were mandated to analyze the circumstances and wrongful use of the investors’ personal information found that there was no clear indication of wrongful use of the information by a person or group of persons, although evidence of wrongful use of personal information is not necessary to assert a claim. Punitive damages The plaintiff, on behalf of the members of the class action, also sought punitive damages on the grounds that IIROC had been reckless in its handling of the incident. To analyze IIROC’s diligence, the Court noted the following facts.  IIROC launched an internal investigation in the week that followed that of February 22, 2013, the date on which the computer was lost. On March 4, 2013, the investigation revealed that the computer likely contained the personal information of thousands of Canadians. IIROC filed a police report. On March 6, 2013, it mandated Deloitte to identify what personal information was lost and who were the affected persons and brokerage firms, and to help it manage the risks and obligations associated with the loss of the personal information. On March 22, 2013, Deloitte informed IIROC that the computer contained “highly sensitive” and “increased sensitivity” information about thousands of Canadian investors. On March 27, 2013, IIROC notified the Commission d’accès à l’information du Québec and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. On April 8 and 9, 2013, IIROC met with representatives of the affected brokerage firms, and simultaneously mandated credit agencies to implement safeguards for investors and brokerage firms. IIROC also set up a bilingual call center, issued a press release about the loss of the computer and sent a letter to affected investors. The Court also accepted expert evidence according to which IIROC’s response was consistent with industry best practices, and that the measures put in place were appropriate in the circumstances and consistent with other responses to similar incidents. In light of the evidence, the Court concluded that the loss of the unencrypted laptop computer and the resulting violation of the right to privacy were isolated and unintentional. It therefore dismissed the claim for punitive damages. The outcome is that IIROC was not reckless: it rather acted in a timely manner. Comments This decision introduces a basis for analyzing the diligent conduct of a company should the personal information that it holds be compromised, and confirms that a prompt and diligent response to a security incident can safeguard against a civil suit. It also confirms that the mere loss of personal information, no matter how sensitive, is not in itself sufficient to justify financial compensation, and that it must be proven that injury was suffered. Furthermore, ordinary annoyances and temporary inconveniences do not constitute compensable injury, and monitoring financial accounts is not exceptional, but is rather considered the standard practice expected of a reasonable person protecting their assets. At the time of writing this bulletin, the time limit for appeal has not expired and the plaintiff has not announced whether he intends to appeal the judgment. Lamoureux v. Organisme canadien de réglementation du commerce des valeurs mobilières (OCRCVM), 2021 QCCS 1093. Sofio v. Organisme canadien de réglementation du commerce des valeurs mobilières (OCRCVM), 2014 QCCS 4061, paras. 21 and 22. Mustapha v. Culligan of Canada Ltd., 2008 SCC 27 [2008] 2 SCR 114. Lamoureux v. Organisme canadien de réglementation du commerce des valeurs mobilières, 2021 QCCS 1093, para. 73.

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  4. A Decision of Interest to the Entertainment Industry

    Is an event organizer responsible for an artist’s late appearance? Context is key, answers the Superior Court’s, as it dismisses the application for authorization to institute a class action against Gestion Evenko Inc.1 regarding Travis Scott’s late appearance at the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival in the summer of 2018. Overview of the first class action on this topic in Quebec. Background The Osheaga Festival, organized by the defendant, Evenko, is a huge celebration dedicated to music and visual arts where artists of all genres perform for three days on the many outdoor stages set up in Parc Jean-Drapeau on Notre-Dame Island. Rapper Travis Scott was on the lineup for the evening of August 3, 2018. His performance was scheduled from 9:45 p.m. to 10:55 p.m. on the River stage. Wishing to attend this performance, the plaintiff, who had purchased a weekend pass, went to the venue at 8:45 p.m. Unfortunately, Travis Scott was held up at customs that evening. The sequence of events can be summarized as follows. At 9:55 p.m., Evenko displayed a first message on the site’s giant screens indicating that the show was delayed for a reason beyond its control. At 10:15 p.m., Evenko broadcast a second message, both on the giant screens and on Twitter, indicating that Travis Scott had been delayed at customs and was on his way to Notre-Dame Island. At 10:30 p.m., the plaintiff left the premises; she claimed that she did not believe Evenko's messages, feared a curfew and found the crowd aggressive. At 10:40 p.m., Evenko broadcast a third message on the giant screens confirming that Travis Scott had arrived on the island. At 10:55 p.m., Evenko broadcast a fourth message announcing to festival-goers that the show was about to begin. The show started at 11:00 p.m. and ended around 11:40 p.m. An application for authorization to institute a class action was filed the next day. The plaintiff sought to represent nearly 50,000 festival-goers who, in her opinion, suffered prejudice attributable to Evenko. She claimed that Travis Scott’s 90-minute delay constituted a breach of contract by Evenko such that all members of the group should obtain a refund equivalent to the value of a daily pass. The Decision In carrying out the analysis required by section 575 of the C.C.P., Justice André Prévost concluded that the alleged facts did not appear to justify the conclusions sought. The application for authorization to institute a class action was therefore dismissed. From the outset, the Court questioned some of the allegations in the application: for example, the plaintiff’s assertion that [translation] “Travis Scott’s performance was the main consideration in the contract with Evenko” seems incompatible with the fact that she purchased a three-day pass (paras. 51, 56); similarly, there was no evidence to support her claim that the crowd was aggressive (para. 54). However, it is mainly two deficiencies in the legal syllogism that led the Court to conclude that the application for authorization did not establish an arguable case or a reasonable prospect of success (para. 66). First, the Court refused to reduce the Osheaga Festival experience to a single performance, even that of a headliner. Rather, it described the event as [translation] “a comprehensive experience [...] whose interest lies in the multiplicity and simultaneity of cultural experiences” (para. 48). In fact, in addition to the invited musical, cultural and circus artists, there are various activities, fairs, cruises and awards ceremonies, to name but a few (para. 48). The Court pointed out that all documents relating to Osheaga’s programming and schedule contain one or more of the following warnings: “Schedule and lineup subject to change” or “Artists and schedule subject to change” (para. 47). These warnings are a strong indication that such delays are far from unusual or, in the words of the Court, [translation] “this is not exceptional for those acquainted with the cultural milieu” (para. 57). In this context, Evenko cannot be found to be at fault. The Court continued its analysis, adding that, even if it were found to be at fault, which is not the case, the situation did not result in any compensable damage: Citing Sofio2 and Mustapha3, the Court pointed out that mere annoyance is not prejudice, and that, in fact, [translation] “there is no evidence that Travis Scott’s delayed performance caused a more serious inconvenience than what is usual for people attending festivals of this nature” (para. 65). In short, in the context of a multi-genre festival, an artist appearing late does not necessarily constitute compensable prejudice and does not automatically amount to the promoter’s failure to fulfil its obligations. What It Means The decision is important to the entertainment industry in that it recognizes that major event organizers sometimes deal with unforeseen circumstances and they are allowed reasonable leeway to adapt to them. Of course, each situation will be particular, but a well-informed promoter will make sure to indicate that changes are possible in its documentation. The decision also recognizes that a comprehensive cultural experience is more than the sum of its parts: a single artist appearing late does not cast a pall on the entire event. This conclusion is likely to apply to many other industries: Osheaga is a typical example of a set of distinct and simultaneous performances, but the same characterization can be given to all the rides in an amusement park or all the individual sections of a zoological garden. Our partners, Myriam Brixi and Laurence Bich-Carrière have successfully represented Evenko's interests in this case.   Le Stum c. Gestion Evenko inc., 2019 QCCS 2422. The time limit for appeal expired on July 22, 2019. Sofio c. Organisme canadien de réglementation du commerce des valeurs mobilières (OCRCVM), 2015 QCCA 1820. Mustapha v. Culligan of Canada Ltd., [2008] 2 SCR 114, 2008 SCC 27.

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  1. The Court of Appeal upholds the dismissal of the class action against Bel-Air Laurentien Aviation

    The Court of Appeal upheld the dismissal of the class action against our client Bel-Air Laurentien Aviation. In a lengthy judgment rendered in 2019, the Superior Court had found no fault on the part of Bel-Air Laurentien Aviation and no neighborhood disturbance to speak of. The Court of Appeal upheld this conclusion. Myriam Brixi and Laurence Bich-Carrière, who led the defence of the appeal, are relieved for their client who was facing a class action estimated at several tens of millions of dollars. This case was named one of the cases to watch in 2018 by l'Actualité magazine.

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  2. Myriam Brixi spoke at the Congrès des Services de Première Ligne

      The Congrès des Services de Première Ligne was held on February 22, 2018, at the Palais des Congrès de Montréal. Over 300 participants, including medical clinic managers, physicians, residents, nursing personnel and other healthcare professionals who work on the front line of the system came together for the occasion. Myriam Brixi, a lawyer with the Lavery litigation group, spoke at the conference. Her presentation dealt with class actions relating to accessory costs, which were abolished on January 26, 2017, when the Regulation abolishing accessory costs related to the provision of insured services and governing transportation costs for biological samples came into force. In her presentation, she reviewed the class actions then underway and clarified the situation as it relates to front-line professionals affected by the regulatory change.

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