Noteworthy decisions as selected by Lexpert in the June 2016 Issue

Significant business law decisions ordered by most frequently viewed in WestlawNext®Canada

1) Hole v. Hole, 2016 CarswellAlta 145 > Alberta Court of Appeal > Counsel for Appellants (Plaintiffs): James McFadyen, QC, Parlee McLaws LLP > Counsel for Respondents (Defendants): William Kenny, QC, Debra Lister, Miller Thomson LLP 

Contracts — Formation – Certainty – Interpretation – Limitations

The Appeals Court (Justice Ronald Berger, Justice J.D. Bruce McDonald, and Justice Frederica Schutz) relied on a number of principles of contractual interpretation and set aside the trial decision.

The Court examined whether the parties intended to create a legally enforceable contract, whether the Letter of Understanding (LOU) was too uncertain to be enforceable and when the limitation period for breach of contract arose.

The Court held that the trial judge applied incorrect principles of contractual interpretation to the LOU by giving weight to the subjective intentions of the parties and to circumstances that came to light only after the contract was formed.

The Court held that the LOU was not too uncertain to be enforceable and that the essential terms of the LOU could be ascertained. An otherwise enforceable agreement did not fail for uncertainty just because some of the words might be vague or hard to interpret. Uncertain terms that were not an essential part of the contract would not be fatal to its enforcement. Uncertain or meaningless terms that were subsidiary could be severed.

The Court held that the trial judge erred in finding that the limitation period had expired and determining when the limitation period commenced. The trial judge appeared to have treated this situation as one of repudiation or anticipatory breach. The trial judge did not consider whether the plaintiffs elected to accept or reject the repudiation. There was no evidence that the plaintiffs clearly and unequivocally accepted the repudiation. The plaintiffs could not have known of their claim until payment under the LOU came due and the defendants refused to honour it. 

2) Keenan v. Canac Kitchens Ltd., 2016 CarswellOnt 965 > Ontario Court of Appeal > Counsel for Appellant: Paul Boshyk of McMillan LLP > Counsel for Respondents: Bram Lecker and Matthew Fisher of Leckerslaw Professional Corporation

Labour and employment law — Employment law – Nature of employment relationship – Relationships distinct from employment relationship – Independent contractor – Termination and dismissal – Notice – Entitlement

Justice Eileen Gillese, Justice Jean MacFarland and Justice Katherine van Rensburg ruled on the judgment. 

3) Pickering Square Inc. v. Trillium College Inc., 2016 CarswellOnt 2929 > Ontario Court of Appeal > Counsel for Appellant: Courtney Raphael of Aird & Berlis LLP > Counsel for Respondent: Alan Dryer and Orly Kahane-Rapport of Sherman Brown Dryer Gold

Civil practice and procedure — Limitation of actions – Actions in contract or debt – Statutory limitation periods – When statute commences to run – Miscellaneous

Justice George Strathy, Justice Harry LaForme and Justice Grant Huscroft ruled on the judgment.