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John Pirie leads the Firm’s Canadian Litigation and Government Enforcement Group. He acts for clients in complex litigation and investigations. Mr. Pirie’s practice includes a significant fraud law and asset recovery component, often involving matters in the financial services industry. He routinely acts for our clients in coordination with other Baker McKenzie offices globally. Mr. Pirie has expertise concerning asset recovery strategies and emergency relief measures related to fraud, including Mareva injunctions, Anton Piller orders, Norwich Pharmacal orders, global asset tracing and fraudulent conveyance proceedings. Mr. Pirie has acted as lead counsel on an array of reported cases in this field, and he has been recognized in Lexpert’s Annual Guide to the Leading Canada/US Cross-Border Litigation Lawyers, and in the Legal 500 for Dispute Resolution (Canada). He appeared in the Supreme Court of Canada on a case ranked by Lexpert Magazine as Canada’s #1 business decision for 2007. Mr. Pirie has previously been named one of Lexpert’s Rising Stars, a “top 40” award that recognizes Canadian lawyers with an outstanding record of success.

David Holden was recently convicted of defrauding Canadian investors in Seaquest Corporation and Seaquest Capital Corporation of more than $54-million in a complex ponzi-scheme. In related civil proceedings our team acted to obtain significant recoveries for some of Holden’s victims. Sadly, this was not the first time that Holden had defrauded investors.
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In a widely publicized move, on December 18, 2019, SNC-Lavalin Construction Inc. pleaded guilty to fraud over five thousand dollars. The guilty plea was the result of protracted settlement discussions between SNC-Lavalin and the Crown.

As part of SNC-Lavalin’s plea deal, all charges against SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. and its international marketing arm, SNC-Lavalin International Inc. were withdrawn. SNC-Lavalin Construction will pay a fine of $280 million, payable in instalments over the next five years. The deal also includes a recently released probation order that requires SNC-Lavalin Construction to cause SNC-Lavalin Group to strengthen its compliance program, record keeping, and internal control standards.
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On May 14, 2019, in Christine DeJong Medicine Professional Corp. v. DBDC Spadina Ltd., 2019 SCC 30 the Supreme Court of Canada granted Christine DeJong Medicine Professional Corporation’s appeal and unanimously adopted Justice van Rensburg’s dissenting reasons as their own. In reversing the earlier decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court has provided guidance on when a party will be found to have participated in a breach of trust.
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Lawyers must act with care and uphold their professional obligations when making referrals. The Supreme Court of Canada recently addressed the professional liability of a lawyer who advised his client to purchase specific offshore investments from an advisor where that advisor turned out to be a fraudster. In Salomon v Matte‑Thompson, 2019 SCC 14, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Quebec Court of Appeal holding the lawyer liable for his client’s investment losses.
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On November 15, 2018, the Supreme Court of Canada granted Christine DeJong Medicine Professional Corporation’s (“DeJong”) application for leave to appeal from the decision in DBDC Spadina Ltd. v. Walton, 2018 ONCA 60. By granting leave, Canada’s highest court will weigh in on the liability of “victims” of fraud as against one another.
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Piercing the corporate veil remains a difficult feat in Ontario. Recently, in Cornerstone Properties v Southside Construction, Justice Hockin of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice refused to pierce the corporate veil to hold a corporation liable for a costs award against its subsidiary. This decision reaffirms that courts will only pierce the veil where a corporation is being abused to the point where it is not functioning as a bona fide corporate entity, and instead is being used as a vehicle to facilitate fraudulent or improper conduct.
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