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We understand that many business issues impact the way litigation must be conducted and we adapt the legal strategy to match your goals. We recognize that many clients wish to avoid trial and our team of experienced litigators will work with you, using alternative dispute resolution methods and other appropriate innovative measures, to develop a strategy that best meets your business objectives and will result in practical solutions to complicated problems.
It is not always possible to conclude litigious matters amicably. We have extensive experience pursuing matters through trial and have established a reputation for aggressively and thoroughly pursuing our clients' interests at every level of Canada's judicial system – when necessary, all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Our extensive use of paralegals, litigation support, e-discovery and document imaging technology enables us to provide cost-effective service to our clients on disputes of all sizes.
Our lawyers have extensive experience prosecuting and defending litigation in all areas, including:
- Successfully defended Surebrook Developments Ltd. in a dispute over construction work performed in the Fort McMurray area of Alberta. The construction work was alleged to have caused movement and resulting damage to the mechanically stabilized earth walls of a nearby interchange. The interchange spanned and serviced the parties’ respective significant residential developments. Complicating factors were numerous as the geotechnical conditions in the area had given rise to prior above-anticipated movement of the wall and slope movement in nearby locations had also been experienced previously. The matter was concluded after extensive questioning and production of third party contractor records and the assessment of the competing experts on the underlying geotechnical conditions and excavation work.
- Represented a condominium corporation in a court action against the developer/builder of the complex. The grade level concrete slab in one of the buildings in the condominium complex sank due to substandard backfill material placed during construction. The defendant builder added to the litigation the excavating contractor, the consulting structural engineer, the consulting architect and the consulting geotechnical engineer. The action went through extensive document production and oral discovery and was settled at a judicial mediation before trial.
- Represented a large engineering firm in a court action against a number of parties involved in the design and construction of a luxury condominium building. The backfill under the concrete slab in the building subsided due to ingress of water, causing sanitary lines under the building to rupture. The action became more complicated when the building, and others in the same complex, developed building envelope problems. The matter was successfully concluded through mediation.
- Represented a building owner in a dispute with its property manager and land developer with respect to post-tensioning construction issues resulting in weakened concrete floors of two 40-storey office buildings in downtown Calgary. The case involved many experts who provided opinions on engineering issues and corrosion. The litigation lasted for almost five years and was resolved by settlement without mediation.
- Represented a contractor who was alleged to have responsibility for defective anti-corrosive coating on an underground sewer line that was delaminating from the concrete pipe. After consulting with experts and discussions between clients, the problems were resolved by cost sharing amongst all parties to the dispute to correct the problem.
- Represented a horizontal directional drilling company in pursuing claims arising from failed or delayed drilling projects. The projects in question range from relatively small water line road crossings to oil and gas pipeline crossings of major bodies of water.
- Represented the owner of a cement manufacturing facility in an action against the project engineers. Slopes of the cooling ponds were unstable and continued to fail. The dispute was resolved with satisfactory payments received by our client and corrective measures taken to stabilize the slopes.
- Represented the owner of an industrial plant when cost overruns with respect to a major expansion were incurred. The action against the mechanical contractor, as well as the engineers on the project, was successful resulting in satisfactory compensation being made to the owner.
The legal team at McLennan Ross offers you wide-ranging experience in constitutional issues. We have appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada, Federal Court, Federal Court of Appeal and other Courts. We believe that we have more experience in constitutional issues than any other firm in Alberta and, among others, have acted as counsel to:
The Province of Alberta
- R. v. Caron
Represented the Province of Alberta in relation to a constitutional challenge to Alberta’s Languages Act. At the trial level, this litigation involved a number of expert witnesses and a significant amount of historical documentation. It involved lengthy litigation before every level of Court in Alberta and the Supreme Court of Canada and was conducted in both French and English
- Reference re Firearms Act (Can.)
Represented the Province of Alberta in bringing a constitutional challenge to the federal Firearms Act. This involved coordinating the litigation with other provinces and numerous interveners. The matter was finally decided by the Supreme Court of Canada
- Alberta Union of Provincial Employees v. Alberta
Represented the Government of Alberta in resisting an injunction preventing implementation of the Public Salary Restraint Act.
- Reviewing potential constitutional challenges in the wake of Canada’s ratification of the Kyoto Accord
- Constitutional issues relating to agriculture (e.g., jurisdiction of the Canadian Wheat Board), and aboriginal matters (e.g. land claims litigation)
- Central Alberta Dairy Pool v. Alberta (Human Rights Commission)
Represented the Central Alberta Dairy Pool before the Supreme Court of Canada in a case dealing with civil rights and freedom of religion
- Reference re Public Service Employee Relations Act (Alta.)
Represented the Province of Alberta at the Supreme Court of Canada in respect of a reference regarding the constitutionality of the Public Service Employee Relations Act Reference as it related to freedom of association and the right to strike
- RWDSU v. Dolphin Delivery Ltd.
Acted for the Province of Alberta in its capacity as an intervener in a case dealing with freedom of expression and the right to picket
- In challenging the Canada Health Act in response to punishments issued by the Federal Government
The Attorney General of Canada
- RWDSU v. Saskatchewan
Acted for the Attorney General of Canada as an intervener in a case involving the right to strike and freedom of association.
- PSAC v. Canada
Acted for the Attorney General of Canada in a challenge to the constitutionality of the Public Sector Compensation Restraint Act
- The Government of Canada on a constitutional challenge to the Elections Act
- Represented an intervener challenging the constitutionality of the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, which created the federal carbon tax, in reference cases before both the Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan and the Court of Appeal for Ontario
- Consolidated Fastfrate Inc. v. Western Canada Council of Teamsters
An employer arguing that provincial labour legislation applied to a transportation undertaking in the freight forwarding industry.
- Represented Contractors and project owners on constitutional matters relating to the union challenges to the constitutionality of the Labour Relations Code
- Canadian Egg Marketing Agency v. Richardson
A challenge to federal egg marketing legislation on grounds including the Charter Right of Freedom of Association, which was heard twice by the Supreme Court of Canada
- The Law Society of Alberta in Black v. Law Society of Alberta, which involved constitutional mobility rights issues
- The Canadian Bar association in Reference re. Same-Sex Marriage, 2004, which dealt with the constitutionality of the amendment in the federal Marriage Act defining marriage as being between two persons
- The Canadian Bar Association in R. v. Fink, The Canadian Bar Association – Alberta Branch in R. v. Fink, which dealt with the constitutionality of searches of law offices
- In addition, McLennan Ross regularly deals with Charter issues in respect to labour relations (recent examples would be freedom of association issues before the Court of Appeal in the ENMAX case and freedom of expression in picketing before the Court of Appeal in the Brewers’ Distribution case)
- Represent a number of partners of Coopers & Lybrand in the Castor Holdings litigation. This litigation involves several multiparty actions that are case managed in Québec. The plaintiffs are advancing claims totaling $1.6 billion.
- Successful represented Marathon Oil in a $93 million action involving the Canadian subsidiary of the Enron organization. Enron alleged that Marathon inappropriately terminated its forward gas contract and ceased supplying gas. After three and a half months of trial, it was found that a Material Adverse Change had occurred which entitled Marathon to give notice of termination. Enron’s arguments were dismissed finding this was not a term of the contract or an established industry practice.
- Successfully represented Transocean, the world’s largest owner of offshore drilling rigs in a dispute with Petro-Canada. The issue surrounded the interpretation of a contract and the valuation of one particular drilling rig working on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. The dispute resolution mechanism was the United Nations Convention for Arbitrations (UNICTRAL). Our dispute was heard before a three-member panel of arbitrators. Witnesses gave evidence from Houston, St. John’s Newfoundland, Iraq and Norway.
- Represented PetroCorp Group Inc. in a dispute over alleged breaches of several Asset Purchase Agreements, associated Escrow Agreements, and Interim Service Agreements. The assets and operating corporations included assets in Canada and Kazakhstan. Complicating factors included challenges in business records and financial reporting with respect to entities and assets located in Kazakhstan. The matter was further complicated by the fact that senior management of PetroCorp, even though it was an asset sale, commenced employment with the purchaser immediately upon closing and were therefore continuously responsible, to some degree, for the financial results post-closing, which formed part of the alleged breach of the Asset Purchase Agreements. The matter was successfully concluded after preliminary questioning and PetroCorp taking the position that significantly increased document production would be required from the plaintiff for the action to proceed.
- Represented an earth moving contractor in a claim for payment involving disputed survey quantities, alleged construction deficiencies and contract interpretation issues. The complexity of this matter relates to the specialized nature of the construction contract interpretation and administration. Multiple issues in dispute required a number of settlement negotiations, over several months, to resolve. The resulting settlement agreement was an exercise in creativity, including the resolution of various issues culminating with the submission of a survey quantity dispute to a third party referee for resolution. The matter was favourably settled after questioning, upon payment to our client of a seven figure sum.
- Represented our client, a supplier of electrical materials, in an action against a bonding company. An electrical subcontractor wanted to order $1.9 million worth of product from the supplier for a big project they were bidding on. Our client was not prepared to extend that much credit without a labour and material payment bond in place. The electrical subcontractor applied for the bond with surety and the general contractor was named as the Obligee. The bond was issued, after which the supplier allowed the product to be ordered on credit. Two months after the bond was issued, the electrical subcontractor and Obligee advise surety that the bond is not needed for the project and the surety cancels the bond, unknown to the supplier. The electrical subcontractor continued to order product on credit until declared bankrupt, while owing the supplier $420,000 for materials. The supplier made a claim on the bond, which was denied on the basis that the bond was cancelled.
- Represented a grocery retailer in a dispute with an equipment leasing company. Another party (out of business by the time of these proceedings) had persuaded our client to install video displays in grocery stores on the basis there would be no net cost. When the company went out of business, the leasing company sought payment on its leases for the video equipment. The case settled at a judicial mediation before trial.
- Represented a junior oil and gas company, and its major shareholder, in claims brought by the other large shareholder of the company. The claims included breach of an agreement over share ownership and oppression in the management and operation of the company. The litigation was ongoing for four years before our firm was retained to take over the case, and it was settled by direct negotiation on the eve of trial.
- Represented a major gas marketer/aggregator in a claim against its auditors as a result of a $75 million foreign exchange loss. The claim was ultimately settled prior to trial to the satisfaction of our client.
- Represented the City of Calgary in respect to one of the largest contaminated site actions in Canada. The provincial regulator initiated regulatory proceedings against Imperial Oil Ltd. as the source of contamination found beneath a residential subdivision. Imperial Oil sought to include other parties, including the City of Calgary, in the remediation Order. The City succeeded in having Imperial Oil's applications dismissed before a regulatory hearing and that decision was upheld before the courts in judicial review proceedings.
- Represented the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board on a number of leave to appeal and judicial review applications arising out of Board orders shutting in over 900 gas-producing wells in northern Alberta. The purpose of the shut-in orders was to preserve related bitumen resources required by the tar sand extraction plants operating in northern Alberta. This case involved gas production valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and the affected bitumen resources were required for multibillion dollar tar sand extraction plants.
- Provided a comprehensive review and overhaul of Alberta Environment’s management system and the implementation of a new sustainable resource and environmental management framework.
- Represented the Province of Alberta in connection with all facets of possible legal challenges to the ratification of the Kyoto Treaty by the Federal Government. This involved working with Department of Justice and Department of Environment officials, as well as the Ministers. We also worked closely with members of Alberta Justice, Civil Branch, in analyzing all aspects of the Kyoto Treaty, international law and constitutional law for possible legal challenges. We reviewed pending federal and Alberta Government legislation with respect to carbon emissions and provided advice concerning the same. This was a very broad assignment that required several lawyers to spend a considerable amount of their time looking at legislation regarding carbon emissions, constitutional law, international law, and many other smaller issues.
- Represented the interests of the Province of Alberta in connection with several aboriginal land claim actions. We worked with the Alberta Justice Civil Branch, Aboriginal Group, in defending these matters for several years. The document production was approximately 42,000 records.
Oil & Gas
- Defended a client who had been sued, along with a number of other parties, by the owner and operator of an oil gathering system after the failure of an oil pipeline. Our client was involved in the design of a facility upstream of the pipeline where the failure took place. Other defendants were involved with the design and installation of the pipeline and related facilities. This action is at an early stage and is on-going.
- Represented a large energy exploration and production company when they brought a claim against a major pipeline transmission company. Our client alleged that when the pipeline company crossed an oil flow line during construction of a major transmission line, the flow line was not properly supported. The flow line later failed and oil was discharged into the surrounding environment. The pipeline company added companies and individuals in the pipeline construction as third parties. The case settled at mediation before trial.
- Represented Pan-Alberta Gas Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of NOVA, in connection with a large claim brought against them by large natural gas producers. The claim encompassed operations throughout North America and resulted in document production of approximately 80,000 records. We were required to consult with experts in Calgary, Washington, and Houston. The action was ultimately settled after applications by Pan-Alberta Gas which required the Plaintiffs to carry on the action as a class action and obtain an Order for solicitor/client costs against the Plaintiffs for the substantial effort that would be required to produce another Supplemental Affidavit of Records, due to amendments made by the Plaintiffs after the initial document production.
- Represented the interests of the Province of Alberta in connection with litigation arising from a fire at a Syncrude plant. This multi-party, complex, $600 million lawsuit required consultation with numerous experts throughout North America and Europe. It required the management of tens of thousands of records. It required months of examination for discovery. The matter was settled after approximately 18 months at trial.
- Represented the Province of Alberta claiming lost royalties in a complicated multi-party litigation involving a fire at a Suncor plant. There were over a dozen parties to the litigation and thousands of documents. The case was settled by way of mediation prior to proceeding to trial.