www.lexisnexis.ca Vol. 31, No. 7 June 2015
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Class action suit rules tightened in SCC pharma case

A Supreme Court of Canada ruling that dismissed a proposed securities class action against a Montreal pharmaceutical company will likely make it more difficult for investors to launch similar lawsuits in the future, lawyers say.

The high court held that plaintiffs must provide courts with “sufficient evidence” to show a “realistic chance” of success in order to proceed with a securities class action.

“The threshold should be more than a ‘speed bump,’ ” said Justice Rosalie Abella in a 7-0 decision in Theratechnologies inc. v. 121851 Canada inc. [2015] S.C.J. No. 18. “What is required is sufficient evidence to persuade the court that there is a reasonable possibility that the action will be resolved in the claimant’s favour.”

Ontario plans balanced books in three years

Aided by economic tailwinds, Ontario’s crushing deficit is slowly being whittled down en route to what the government is promising will be a return to a balanced budget in fiscal 2017-18. But while a commitment to austerity has pleased many in the business community, a dearth of tax initiatives has detracted from some of the enthusiasm.

“There is a plan, finally, to work towards a balanced budget. Over the last six or seven years, I’ve been wondering whether or when that would be accomplished,” said Torben Drewes, a professor of economics at Trent University in Peterborough, Ont.

“I think the plan to balance the budget is the right approach,” said Albert Baker, global tax policy leader for Deloitte Canada LLP in Toronto.

A unified set of practices and ethical values has been adopted by the two organizations that establish and maintain standards for the financial planning profession in Canada.

The Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) and the Institut Québécois de Planification Financière (IQPF) drew up a unified code of ethics and common set of standards to govern the behaviours of individuals who hold the titles of financial planner, or F.Pl., and certified financial planner, or CFP.

Cary List, president and CEO of the FPSC, says the standards, which have been years in the making, will give Canadians clarity and confidence when engaging a financial planner.

Expert evidence of questionable independence can be more readily challenged following a recent Supreme Court decision that tightens the rules of admissibility, counsel say.

Justice Thomas Cromwell’s 7-0 judgment April 30, in White Burgess Langille Inman v. Abbott and Haliburton Co. [2015] S.C.J. No. 23, elaborates on the Supreme Court’s four-part threshold test for determining whether to admit disputed expert evidence in civil and criminal trials, and provides guidance on trial judges’ residual discretion, as evidentiary “gatekeepers,” to screen out proposed expert evidence whose value does not justify the risk of confusion, time and expense that may result from its admission. The court also held that an appearance of conflict of interest, by itself, does not render an expert’s evidence inadmissible.