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Overview

Lawson Lundell has Western Canada's leading Pension and Benefits Litigation Group. We are recognized as leaders in litigation relating to pensions and benefits. We have been involved in many of the leading Canadian cases and continue to represent our clients in contentious matters pertaining pension and benefit issues.

Our lawyers have extensive experience in the litigation of pension and benefit disputes before courts, tribunals, and arbitrators. We have also been heavily engaged in the resolution of disputes through negotiation, mediation and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. We advise pension fund administrators on trust, pension and benefit law issues and regularly apply to court for directions in many benefit cases.

Lawson Lundell’s litigation team has been involved in pension and benefit cases before all levels of courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada, the British Columbia Court of Appeal and numerous trial courts, commissions and tribunals across Canada. We are the leaders in our field.

Our services include:

  • Health and welfare trust litigation
  • Employee benefit trusts litigation
  • Group benefits litigation
  • Employee incentive plans and bonus plan litigation
  • Drafting submissions to regulatory authorities on compliance matters
  • Surplus entitlement claims
  • Pension plan expense claims
  • Pension trustees’ fiduciary duty claims, including claims relating to claim investment policy and plan immunization
  • Contribution holiday litigation
  • Benefit entitlement litigation

Experience

Experience

Examples of work done in pensions and benefits litigation include:

  • Obtained judgment against a director of a company for knowing assistance in breach of trust in relation to the company’s failure to remit pension and LTD contributions for its employees. (Trustees of the IWA-Forest Industry Pension Plan v. Leroy, 2017 BCSC 158)
  • Successfully established crown immunity from the application of the GST for pooled investment portfolios used to fund certain public section pension plans. (British Columbia Investment Management Corporation v. Canada (Attorney General) 2016 BCSC 1803)
  • Represented Point Grey Golf Club in a wrongful dismissal claim brought by the Club’s former Controller, Stephen Cotter. (Cotter v. Point Grey Golf and Country Club, 2016 BCCA 260)
  • Successfully defended The Trustees of the Carpentry Workers Pension Plan of British Columbia against allegations breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment in relation to transfer deficiency payments. (Spencer v. The Trustees of the Carpentry Workers Pension Plan of British Columbia –Oral Reasons for Judgment, May 2015
  • Successfully represented the British Columbia Pension Corporation in a dispute alleging the wrongful payment of a survivor’s pension benefit. (Fricker v. British Columbia Pension Corporation et al, 2014 BCSC 1729)
  • Represented a major forest company in connection with claims brought by former employees for pension and related benefits following the sale of a pulp mill. (Kerfoot v. Weyerhaeuser Company Limited, 2012 BCCA)
  • Succeeded in proving fraud against a claimant of disability benefits from a benefit trust. (The Trustees of the IWA- Forestry Industry Ltd. Plan v. Bhullar, 2008 BCSC 168)
  • Successfully represented the employer sponsor of a large private sector pension plan in an action brought by former management employees seeking enhanced early retirement benefits and challenging amendments to the pension plan passed by the employer. (Patrick et. al vs. TELUS Communications Inc. 2007 BCCA 200)
  • Successfully overturned on appeal certification of a major pension class proceeding alleging rights to an equitable allocation of surplus in an ongoing pension plan. (Williams v. College Pension Board, 2007 BCCA 19)
  • Successfully overturned on appeal certification of a major pension class proceeding involving the claim to a share of surplus in an ongoing pension plan and obtained a stay of that proceeding in favour of arbitration. (Ruddell v. BC Rail Ltd. 2007 BCCA 269)
  • Successfully represented the Trustees of the IWA – Forest Industry LTD Plan and obtained an early summary dismissal of a claim against them for breach of fiduciary duty relating to their adjudication of disability claims. (Atco Lumber v. Leech, 2006 BCSC 524 and Atco Lumber Ltd. v. Leech, 2007 BCCA 238)
  • Successfully represented the Board of Trustees of a large public sector pension plan in a representative action brought on behalf of retirees challenging changes made to post-retirement group benefits. (B.C. Nurses Union vs. Municipal Pension Plan Board of Trustees 2004 BCSC 1578)
  • Representing the Board of Trustees of a public sector pension plan in an action brought by plan members concerning the validity of an early retirement scheme. (Camosun College Faculty Association v. College Pension Board of Trustees 2004 BCSC 1578)
  • Represented two national trust companies in a class action involving complex pension issues relating to surplus entitlement, allegations of improper expense payments, alleged failure to immunize the pension plan and the failure to follow a Statement of Investment policy in which the court largely adopted our position on certification issues. This proceeding has recently been resolved. (Gregg v. Freightliner 2003 BCSC 241)
  • Representing employer trustees in deadlock dispute relating to the granting of an extraordinary past service benefit
  • Representing employer trustees in trustee deadlock dispute relating to disposition of demutualization proceeds
  • Represented the administrator of a large NWT pension plan in litigation to recover significant liabilities owed by a withdrawing employer
  • Successfully represented applicant pension plan sponsor in three separate applications under the Trust and Settlement Variation Act (British Columbia) to confirm surplus sharing arrangements
  • Represented defendant board of trustees in two separate human rights complaints involving alleged age discrimination in connection with suspension of enhanced early retirement benefits
  • Represented defendant board of trustees in two separate human rights complaints involving alleged age discrimination in connection with suspension of enhanced early retirement benefits
  • Represented boards of trustees and other plan sponsors in numerous court applications to resolve disputed entitlement to pre-retirement death benefits
  • Represented plaintiff boards of trustees in numerous collection actions seeking collection of unremitted employer contributions or reimbursement of benefit overpayments
  • Representing the Board of Trustees of an industry Health and Welfare Benefit Trust in an advice and directions application concerning a proposed scheme for reimbursing over-contributions
  • Advised the Board of Trustees of a large public sector pension plan in connection with a class action concerning changes made to group health benefits provided through the plan
  • Acting for an employer sponsor of a private pension plan in connection with claims for pension and related benefits brought by former employees who transferred employment upon the sale of certain business units

Involved in disputes over or involving:

  • Reduction in post-retirement benefits
  • Trustee deadlock resolution
  • Integration of registered pensions plans with Canada Pension Plan
  • Conversion of defined benefit pension plans to defined contribution pension plans
  • Collection of Exit Levies from employers leaving health and welfare trusts
  • Enhanced early retirement entitlement
  • Entitlement to pre-retirement death benefit
  • Recovery of benefit overpayments, including recovery on account of recovery from third party
  • Disability benefit denial
  • Trustee advice and direction
  • Surplus ownership
  • Contribution holidays

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