Class Action

In spite of ruling, carriage disputes expected to continue

Although a recent ruling that upheld an earlier decision in a carriage dispute between law firms in the Barrick Gold Corp. class action does provide some clarity on the issue, these types of battles are likely to continue to occur, Toronto class action lawyer Brian Radnoff tells Law Times.

As the article reports, at issue in the decision was a bid by a group of law firms led by Toronto’s Rochon Genova LLP, in competition with another group led by Koskie Minsky LLP, to represent shareholders in a proposed class action against Barrick Gold and four of its executives.

In May, a Divisional Court panel affirmed a December ruling to grant the Rochon Genova group carriage “based on the many claims it had advanced and the relative state of preparation.”

“In the decision last month, Justice Alison Harvison Young noted the broad discretion granted to judges and said the reviewing courts should defer to their decisions in the absence [of] an error of law. She also found the primary concern is to determine which group is most likely to advance the interests of the class,” says the Law Times article.

Radnoff, partner with Dickinson Wright, tells Law Times that although the decision provides some clarification, it leaves a lot of discretion to the motion judge. In a situation such as this that involves very qualified counsel on both sides, the outcome is likely to be uncertain, he adds.

“These kinds of carriage battles are going to come up again and again,” Radnoff tells the publication.

“The bottom line is there’s not going to be a lot of certainty about who’s going to win these motions.”

One approach to stem the litigation, Radnoff suggests in the article, may be for more law firms to group together to represent the same class and avoid taking the carriage motion to court.

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