Beam Suntory Inc. v. Domaines Pinnacle Inc., 2016 FCA 212

In the underlying action, as the parties approached trial, settlement discussions resulted in an offer to settle. That offer was accepted, but the parties disputed whether the offer also included the discontinuance of a Superior Court Action. The Federal Court concluded that the Federal Court action and counterclaim was settled, but the Superior Court action was not settled. Beam appealed. The FCA dismissed the appeal.

The Federal Court held that the only reasonable interpretation of the object and effect of the offer to settle is that which appears from the clear words used by Beam. As Beam had refused to discontinue its counterclaim, the Federal Court ordered a permanent stay of proceedings. The Federal Court also increased costs awarded to Domaines as it held that certain elements of Beam’s conduct were reprehensible.

The FCA held that contractual interpretation is a question of mixed fact and law. Thus it would not intervene unless a palpable and overriding error was identified. The FCA considered all of the facts, and was not persuaded the Judge made any error that could justify intervention.