La force de la perspective

The Canadian Bar Association

Alexander Gay

Droit corporatif

Les règles entourant la responsabilité des entreprises doivent refléter la nouvelle réalité

Par Alexander Gay avril 21, 2017 21 avril 2017

Les règles entourant la responsabilité des entreprises doivent refléter la nouvelle réalité

 

Ces derniers mois, la responsabilité des sociétés a beaucoup fait parler d’elle dans les cours de justice. Des requérants sont en quête d’avenues juridiques différentes pour attribuer la responsabilité légale à des sociétés apparentées. Deux causes récentes ont retenu notre attention : Yaiguaje c. Chevron Corporation et Garcia c. Tahoe Resources Inc.. La première porte sur la levée du voile corporatif, tandis que la seconde concerne l’attribution de la responsabilité d’une filiale à sa société mère en droit de la responsabilité délictuelle.

Ces causes sont ancrées dans des théories juridiques non adaptées à la réalité du monde corporatif moderne, au sein duquel les sociétés apparentées agissent de concert, comme un groupe, tout en jouissant d’une responsabilité limitée. Le défi, pour les tribunaux, est de trouver une théorie juridique qui permette aux sociétés de fonctionner comme des entités légales distinctes tout en étant imputables des actions des sociétés apparentées de leur groupe dans certaines circonstances.

La corporation est un sous-produit d’une société qui a besoin d’un véhicule légal pour faciliter l’accumulation de capital. Les architectes juridiques de cette construction ont voulu séparer les actionnaires des administrateurs, les premiers pouvant investir sans encourir de responsabilité, et les seconds pouvant prendre des décisions dans l’intérêt de la société. Au fil du temps, plusieurs corporations se sont regroupées au sein d’une société pour agir de concert. Elles sont ainsi devenues les actionnaires d’autres sociétés et une structure complexe s’est développée.

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Not Just a Bystander

Where did it happen? Causing loss by unlawful means

Par Alexander Gay mars 1, 2017 1 mars 2017

Where did it happen? Causing loss by unlawful means

 

Torts are what happens when one person causes a loss to another.  Where they happen is an entirely different question. And it can be even trickier to figure out where a plaintiff should sue a defendant for interfering, unlawfully, in its business activities – what we call unlawful means tort. It’s a question Canadian courts have yet to resolve.

That’s because a series of events may be at play, and only one might determine where the tort happened.

It’s an issue we have mostly managed to ignore so far. In 2012 the Supreme Court in its Van Breda ruling gave us a two-stage inquiry into assessing whether a given court should assume jurisdiction over a tort. First, it’s up to the plaintiff to establish that a factor presumptively connects the litigation to the jurisdiction. That could be the location of where the tort was committed. Or it could be another connecting factor, such as where the defendant carries on business. Then, for the second part of the inquiry, it’s up to the defendant to rebut the presumption by showing that, based on the facts, the connection isn’t enough to be substantial and does not point to any real or strong relationship between the subject matter of the litigation and the forum.  If the defendant is successful on this count, the court must decline on jurisdiction.  

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Contract law

One-sided jurisdiction clauses: The case for validity

Par Alexander Gay février 15, 2017 15 février 2017

One-sided jurisdiction clauses: The case for validity

 

Is it abusive for one party to an agreement to have the right to choose to pursue a claim in any competent court while the other party is bound to only one jurisdiction?

Until recently, asymmetrical jurisdiction clauses – also know as one-sided clauses –  in commercial agreements have come under assault.

Fortunately, that appears to be changing.

There have been a number of court decisions, from the French courts in particular, declaring asymmetrical jurisdiction clauses to be unfair and abusive and are therefore void. These courts have held that these clauses contravene the basic procedural principle of equality of parties, where one party is granted under the agreement better opportunities to bring claims against the other.

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The practice

The common interest: When privileged information is shared

Par Alexander Gay décembre 14, 2016 14 décembre 2016

 

In-house counsel are often asked to share privileged materials with third parties that have a common interest in a piece of litigation. Common interest privilege is a category of privilege that permits parties to disclose privileged evidence between themselves without losing privilege. The determination of common interest is a factual one, which may consider whether the parties share a common goal, seek a common outcome or have a self-same interest on either or both the general claims (e.g., both sued for exactly the same alleged misconduct) or certain specific allegations (e.g., an expert report on one specific matter in issue). Common interest privilege is asserted and the documents are shared—often with little to no understanding about the nature of the privilege claim being asserted or how to best share documents with the third party in a way that protects its subsequent dissemination.

A common interest privilege is not a stand-alone privilege that can be claimed on all documents shared with third parties in the face of actual or impeding litigation. In order to claim the benefit of a common interest privilege, the documents must benefit from either solicitor-client privilege or litigation privilege. Where the privileged document is shared, both the originating party and the third party receiving the document can claim a common interest privilege, independent of one another.

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