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BIO

Born in Montreal, Quebec and raised in Berwick, Nova Scotia, John completed his education at Mount Allison University (B.A. Hons. 1986) and Queen’s University Law School (LL.B. 1991). John was called to the Ontario Bar in 1993 and the Nova Scotia Bar in 1999. His practice covers Administrative Law, Construction Law, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Commercial Litigation, Securities Litigation, and Financial Services, Banking & Insolvency.  John was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2014 and was  selected as a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America in 2018.

Experience

  • Quashing decisions by both a Hearing Officer and the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Workers Compensation Board on the basis that the impugned decisions were a choreographed attempt to circumvent a transparent and impartial adjudicative process and thus a breach of fundamental procedural fairness (Oxford Frozen Foods Ltd. v. Nova Scotia (Workers’ Compensation Board), 2017 NSSC 245)
  • Lead counsel representing large Canadian financial institutions in ongoing securities class actions;
  • John represented the defendant in a rare decertification of a class action.  In Crooks v. CIBC World Markets Inc., 2016 NSSC 145, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court deleted certain common issues on the basis of post-certification developments and then decertified the entire proceeding on the basis that a common issue trial was no longer the preferable procedure;
  • Successfully representing shareholders in numerous claims involving allegations of oppression (see, for example, Giffin v. Soontiens, 2011 NSSC 404 and 2011 NSCA 1 and Proost v. Ferncroft Equities Ltd., 2014 NSSC 302);
  • Lead counsel in successfully defending an employer against highly publicized allegations of wrongful dismissal (Saturley v. CIBC World Markets Inc., 2013 NSSC 300);
  • Confirming the provincial Crown’s decision to expropriate land for the purposes of developing a gold mine and sparking economic activity in an historically disadvantaged area (Higgins v. Nova Scotia (Attorney General) et al., 2013 NSSC 13; appeal dismissed 2013 NSCA 106; leave to appeal dismissed [2013] S.C.C.A. No. 444);
  • Representing international financial institutions in pension-related matters (see, for example, Halifax Regional Municipality Pension Committee v. State Street Global Advisors Ltd., 2012 NSSC 399);
  • Preserving a private landowner’s rights against the provincial Crown in one of Nova Scotia’s leading cases on quieting title, marketable title and the provincial Crown’s attempts to assert title over private land (Brill v. Nova Scotia (Attorney General), 2010 NSCA 69);
  • Lead Nova Scotia counsel representing the largest bondholders in the General Motors’ bankruptcy (Aurelius Capital Partners v. General Motors Corp., 2009 NSSC 100);
  • John also represents clients in numerous cases of an urgent or “real time” nature – typically involving issues of insolvency, receivership and emergency injunctive relief. The reported decisions include Bressmer et al. v. M&F Handel Development Ltd., 2007 NSCA 76.
BACKGROUND

Queen's Counsel

  • 2014

Bar Admission

  • Ontario (1993)
  • Nova Scotia (1999)

Law School

  • Queen's University

Education

  • Mount Allison University (B.A. with Honours 1986)
  • Queen’s University (LL.B. 1991)

Professional Activities & Affiliations

  • Member of the Lawyer’s Insurance Association of Nova Scotia Claims Review Committee (2015 – )
  • Member of Supreme Court Liaison Committee (2013 – )
  • Bar-Bench Subcommittee on Nova Scotia’s Rules of Civil Procedure
  • Member of the Bar-Bench Steering Committee for re-drafting Nova Scotia’s Rules of Civil Procedure in force as of 2009
  • Chair, The Advocates’ Society Regional Advisory Committee (2016 – 2018)
  • National Board of Directors, The Advocates’ Society (2018 to date)

Activities Within Firm

  • Chair – Halifax Litigation Practice Group

Law Society Memberships

  • Canadian Bar Association
  • Law Society of Ontario
  • Nova Scotia Barristers' Society