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Brendan O'Grady

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The Supreme Court of Canada has authorized a Quebec class action against an investment fund dealer and investment fund manager. The class members are customers who allege they were insufficiently informed about the risk profile of two investment products. See Desjardins Financial Services Firm Inc. v Asselin, 2020 SCC 30. The decision to authorize the class action does not confirm the merits of the allegations. The Supreme Court reaffirmed that “the threshold for authorizing a…

CANADA – In Godfrey v Pioneer, 2019 SCC 42 (“Godfrey”), the Supreme Court of Canada has lowered the bar for certifying price-fixing class actions brought under the federal Competition Act, while also allowing new categories of claimants to participate as class members. The decision arose from a class action filed in British Columbia against a group of 42 foreign companies who manufactured optical disc drives and related products. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants conspired…

CANADA – The Ontario Superior Court has dismissed a proposed class action involving the securities of a foreign company purchased on foreign exchanges. In a recent decision, Justice Belobaba found that Ontario lacked jurisdiction simpliciter or, alternatively, was forum non conveniens. This decision reinforces “[t]he prevailing international norm that securities litigation should take place in the forum where the securities trading took place.” Background In 2015, a German carmaker (the “Manufacturer”) admitted that it had…

CANADA – In Lavender v. Miller Bernstein, 2017 ONSC 3958, a recent class action decision of the Ontario Superior Court, the auditor of a now-insolvent securities dealer was found liable for financial losses sustained by the dealer’s clients. The decision of Justice Belobaba focuses on the question: does an auditor have a duty of care to its client’s clients, including where there is no direct relationship with or reliance by these third party clients?

The dealer, Buckingham Securities (the “Dealer”), held the investments of roughly 1000 retail customers (the “Class Members”). The defendant auditors, Miller Bernstein LLP (the “Auditor”), was found to have negligently signed-off on Form 9 reports, which are filed annually with the Ontario Securities Commission (the “OSC”), the provincial securities regulator, to ensure compliance with segregation of assets and minimum free capital requirements. The Dealer had not segregated the Class Members’ funds, which it later misappropriated causing an alleged loss of $10.6 million. These facts were later admitted by the Auditor in disciplinary proceedings against the Auditor.