The Supreme Court heard two appeals this week in cases of interest to Canadian business and professions.
An appeal was heard from AIC Limited et al. v. Dennis Fischer et al., 2012 ONCA 47, a ruling in which the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned the motion judge’s initial refusal to certify a class action. The proceeding had been commenced against mutual fund managers who were alleged to have permitted “market timing” activities, to the detriment of long-term investors. An investigation had been conducted by the Ontario Securities Commission, which led to settlement agreements between the managers and the Commission. The motions judge had ruled that the existence of these settlement agreements precluded a class proceeding from being the preferable procedure. The Court of Appeal disagreed.
A second appeal was heard last week, this one from Régie des rentes du Québec c. Canada Bread Company Ltd. et autres, 2011 QCCA 1518. The case had a long and tortured history. In 2008, the Régie had determined that certain clauses of a private pension plan — which purported to authorize the employer to reduce pensions after closing down — were unlawful. The Quebec Court of Appeal disagreed, and sent the matter back to the Régie to be redetermined. In the interim, the Quebec legislature enacted a declaratory statute affirming the Régie’s interpretation of the relevant statute and rejecting the Court of Appeal’s interpretation. Upon the mandated redetermination, the Régie applied the declaratory statute. The subsequent ruling of the Court of Appeal focused on whether the original dispute was still pending at the date that the declaratory statute came into force. The Court of Appeal ruled that it had not been, and thus refused to apply the declaratory statute.