Wednesday, February 24, 2016

B.C. court certifies halibut class-action suit

B.C. court certifies halibut class-action suit: A class-action lawsuit has been approved for B.C. commercial halibut fishers trying to get back millions given to the federal government under a 2001 scheme now deemed illegal.

Meldon Ellis - Commercial Halibut Fishing – Certification Order of Madam Justice Griffin

A class-action lawsuit has been approved for B.C. commercial halibut fishers trying to get back millions given to the federal government under a 2001 scheme now deemed illegal.
Meldon Ellis, a lawyer representing independent fisher Barry Jim Burnell, said on Wednesday the government program that took 10% of the halibut fisheries’ total allowable catch and effectively sold the quota back to fishers was ruled unconstitutional in 2006.
But by that point, fishers in B.C. had paid $800,000 to $1 million each year to the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans, he said.
“Our lawsuit is about recovering those additional fees that were paid by the fishers,” Ellis said.
“It appears that it was, through these joint project agreements, a scheme to generate additional funds for fisheries management.”
On Tuesday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Susan Griffin certified the class-action lawsuit for commercial halibut fishers who paid for the quota to the government’s Pacific Halibut Management Society.
Ellis said the fees had affected about 400 commercial licensees, who would have had to pay about 10-15% above their normal costs to fish for those years.
He added the suit might proceed to trial in about a year’s time.

See Commercial Halibut Fishing – Certification Order of Madam Justice Griffin here. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Class action was certified regarding a Department of Fisheries and Oceans (the “Crown”) scheme to divert individual vessel quota (IVQ)

Distribution of Settlement Funds
A class action was certified regarding a Department of Fisheries and Oceans (the “Crown”) scheme to divert individual vessel quota (IVQ) representing 10% of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) to the Pacific Halibut Management Association for resale back to individual commercial halibut license holders.

A settlement of approximately $2.8 million has been reached in this case.  The settlement was approved by the Supreme Court of British Columbia on September 11, 2015. The method of distribution, class counsel fees and an honorarium to the representative plaintiff was approved by the court on November 10, 2015.

In accordance with the Order following the November 10, 2015 hearing, Class Counsel will be sending claim packages, including a notice letter by regular mail to Class and Sub-Class members in early 2016.  Please contact (604) 689-7555 to ensure that Class Counsel has your up to date address details.

Please note that you will have 90 days of the mailing of the packages to return completed copies of your claim form.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Settlement, subject to court approval, reached in Category L Commercial Halibut Fishing License Case

A settlement, subject to court approval, has been reached in this case.  A hearing has been set for 2:00 p.m. on September 11, 2015 for the court to review the settlement.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

COMMERCIAL SALMON HALIBUT FISHING Case - Burnell v Canada (Attorney General)

COMMERCIAL SALMON HALIBUT FISHING

Case Name:
Burnell v Canada (Attorney General)


Court:
Supreme Court of British Columbia


Date Filed:
November 20, 2007


Class Members:
All owners of fishing vessels with a Category L Commercial Halibut License to fish for halibut issued by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (“Licensed Vessels”) at any time between 2001 and 2006 inclusive who purchased quota from the Pacific Halibut Management Association (“PHMA”) except for the following:
(i) the holder of license L-437;
(ii) First Nations fishers holding Category FL Commercial Halibut  Fishing licenses; and,
(iii) members of the subclass.


Subclass Members:
All owners of fishing vessels with a Category L Commercial Halibut License to fish for halibut issued by the Minster of Fisheries and Oceans (“Licensed Vessels”) between 2001 and 2006 inclusive (the “Material Time”) for which quota was purchased from PHMA and:
(a) who at any time during the Material Time:
i. were directors of PHMA; or,
ii. were corporations in which a PHMA director owned more than 50% of the shares; or
(b) who claim that they were in a partnership with a PHMA director in relation to a Licensed Vessel and the purchase of quota from PHMA at any time during the Material Time.


Summary of Claim
A class action has been certified which alleges that a Department of Fisheries and Oceans scheme to divert individual vessel quota (IVQ) representing 10% of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) to the Pacific Halibut Management Association for resale back to individual commercial halibut license holders was unlawful and seeks restitution on behalf of members of the Class and Subclass for additional amounts paid by them for the diverted IVQ.


Copies of the Reasons for Judgment of the Supreme Court of British Columbia may be viewed by clicking the following links:
  • Interim Ruling on Causes of Action
  • Second Interim Ruling on Causes of Action
  • Third Interim Ruling: Certification and Amendments to Claim
  • Fourth Interim Ruling: Subclass Certification
Important Documents:
  • Third Amended Notice of Civil Claim
  • Certification Order – February 18, 2014
  • Subclass Certification Order – June 13, 2014 (not yet entered)
Co-counsel:
The lawyers for the class action who represent the main class are Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman and Ellis Business Law.
The lawyers for the class action who represent the sub-class are Underhill Boies Parker (www.ubplaw.ca).

For further information concerning this action, please contact Lise Carmichael at 1-800-689-2322 or 604-689-7555, or email lcarmichael@cfmlawyers.ca.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

REASONS FOR JUDGMENT* VA S077807 - Justice Griffin - Re: Burnell v. Canada (Fisheries and Oceans)

Meldon Ellis comments on Judgement for Burnell v. Canada (Fisheries and Oceans).

B.C. fishermen suing Fisheries and Oceans over halibut strategy

More than 400 commercial fisherman are suing the federal government over halibut-management strategy

By Keven Drews, The Canadian Press Posted: Feb 20, 2014 6:19 AM PT Last Updated: Feb 20, 2014 6:19 AM PT 

More than 400 commercial fishermen in British Columbia have been given the go-ahead to sue the federal government as part of a class-action lawsuit sparked by a halibut-management strategy.
B.C. Supreme Court Judge Susan Griffin certified what she called a "novel" lawsuit, which was launched against Fisheries and Oceans Canada by fisherman Barry Burnell.

"To my knowledge to date there has been no authority awarding a fisher damages or restitution of fees paid by the fisher under one of these fisheries management schemes," Griffin said in her written ruling, posted online Wednesday.

Her written ruling states that under the program, the Fisheries Department allegedly held back 10 per cent of the total allowable catch and assigned it to the Pacific Halibut Management Society. The society then resold shares to fishermen at higher costs and used the money to fund fisheries management activities.

The ruling said the strategy began in 2001 but was discontinued in 2006 after the Federal Court found a similar practice on the East Coast was illegal.

None of the allegations have been proven in court, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada declined to comment on the certification because the case is still before the courts.

Meldon Ellis, one of the lawyers representing Burnell, said he had not yet spoken to his client about the ruling.

"We're seeking a return of the additional funds that were paid by the fishers during that period," he said, adding it's hard to estimate an average cost because each fisherman had a different quota.
Still, he said the additional fees probably represented a 10- to 15 per cent premium over what the fishermen would have paid had the strategy not been in place.

Ellis also estimated the amount of additional fees generated by the strategy and remitted to the Fisheries Department each year was $1 million.

The number of fishermen in the class action is based on court pleadings and affidavits, which note more than 400 people held licences similar to the one held by Burnell.

Not included in the class are licence holders who were also directors of the society, First Nations fishermen who held a different licence and the society, which also held a licence.

Ellis said no date has yet been set for a trial.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

EBL - Ellis Business Lawyers new office location!

Vancouver location:

#400-1681 Chestnut Street,
Vancouver, BC
V6J 4M6

Tel: 604-688-7374 or 604-671-7374