As a forum, Canada is well suited to the adjudication of complex commercial disputes. Parties are generally free to bring contract claims as they see fit, with frivolous suits discouraged by a costs regime that typically requires the losing party to pay a certain percentage of legal fees to the winning party.
Canadian law is subject to a distribution of legislative powers and responsibilities between the two main levels of government: federal and provincial.2 Contract law, as a matter of civil rights, is under provincial jurisdiction.3 There are 10 Canadian provinces, each with its own court system and jurisprudential history.4 The laws of each province, however, although there are some differences as between them, are informed by British common law and generally the applicable principles align (with the exception of Quebec, a civil law jurisdiction that is not the subject of this chapter).5 Decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada are binding on all lower courts, further adding to the consistency of the Canadian scheme.
II CONTRACT FORMATION
Contract formation in Canada is governed by the general common law rules of consideration and offer and acceptance, which provide a framework for determining whether the parties have formed a mutual intention to enter into a bargain with each other and on what terms.6 Canadian courts do not inquire as to the sufficiency of the consideration given, and will merely seek to confirm that some consideration flow from each contracting party.7 With respect to offer and acceptance, the general principle is this: a valid contract requires the certainty of an acceptance that is the 'mirror image' of the offer.8 Also further to the need for certainty, an acceptance must be unequivocal and affirmatively communicated to the offeror in order to be effective.9 In all respects, contract formation is assessed objectively.10
The rules of offer and acceptance are meant to bring certainty and finality to the contracting process. Once a valid agreement is made, however, subsequent negotiations by the contracting parties will not necessarily vitiate that agreement.11 Indeed, the existence of subsequent negotiations has been held in certain commercial cases to confirm the parties' underlying agreement; especially where the parties have concluded a broad commercial framework (or 'umbrella') agreement under which they will operate and then proceed to negotiate certain ancillary details.12
Sometimes, parties to a contract will negotiate 'unilateral' modifications thereto, that is, alterations to the existing agreement where only one party gives fresh consideration. Generally, in Canadian law, the 'pre-existing duty' rule provides that such modifications are void for lack of consideration.13 Canadian commentators have criticised the strict applicability of this rule, however, especially in commercial contexts, and Canadian courts appear to be slowly following suit. In 2008, the New Brunswick Court of Appeal held that a unilateral modification may be enforceable as necessary to give effect to the parties' consensual bargain so long as the variation was not procured under economic duress.14 Most recently in 2018, the British Columbia Court of Appeal agreed and held that, to do justice to the legitimate expectations of parties, unilateral modifications should be enforceable 'in the absence of duress, unconscionability or other proper policy considerations'.15
The same practical, fairness-oriented approach governs scenarios where parties make an agreement to engage in further negotiations. Although Canadian courts will not deviate from the rules of offer and acceptance and enforce an uncertain bargain, they may recognise a quasi-contractual relationship (even in the absence of a valid contract) as necessary to protect good faith reliance.16 Agreements to agree are therefore generally not enforceable, but can create a duty to negotiate in good faith (which can manifest, for example, as an obligation to give the other party a right of first refusal) where the parties are already in a relationship of reliance.17 Similarly, letters of intent will not bind parties to a particular deal structure but will be binding in respect of establishing the terms on which the buyer's due diligence will be conducted.18
As a general matter of law, contracts need not be in writing in order to be valid.19 Note, however, that provincial legislation requires certain types of contract to be in writing, including agreements that convey interests in land and certain agreements relating to trusts.20
Where agreements are in writing, Canadian courts are generally agnostic with respect to the method of communication used by the parties (mail, telex, fax, email, etc.) and take a pragmatic, flexible approach that treats the method of communication as merely a means to the parties' ends and recognises that the intricacies of a given technology should not be allowed to overwhelm the true intent of the parties.21 Provincial legislation also exists to ensure that the regular rules of contract are adapted as seamlessly as possible to new technological realities.22 How this practical approach to the intersection of contract formation and technology is applied to blockchain 'smart contracts' by Canadian courts will be of particular interest in 2019 and beyond.23
III CONTRACT INTERPRETATION
Contractual interpretation in Canada is an exercise in giving effect to the objective intentions of the parties at the time they entered into the contract.24 To determine the parties' objective intentions, courts look foremost to the plain meaning of the language expressed in the contract,25 reading the contract as a whole (while giving meaning to every word that is used) and in the context of the circumstances as they existed when the agreement was created.26 Canadian courts avoid rigid constructions or findings of ambiguity27 in favour of treating the words as flexible instruments meant to achieve a particular purpose; that is, they will seek to reconcile disputes by adopting an interpretation that accords with the overall business purpose of the provision or provisions in question.
In Canada, the circumstances that surround the formation of the contract are referred to as the 'factual matrix'. The factual matrix is relevant in every case, even where the contract is unambiguous on its face,28 and probative to the extent that considering it deepens the analysis by providing context and does not inform an interpretation that contradicts the express language of the contract. As a further limitation, the factual matrix only comprises that which reasonably ought to have been known by the parties at the time of contract formation.29
As the interpretive exercise is objective, the subjective intentions of parties are not relevant.30 Similarly, extrinsic evidence as to the parties' intentions is barred as a general proposition by the 'parol evidence rule', which precludes admission of evidence outside the words of the written contract that would add to, subtract from, vary or contradict a contract that has been wholly reduced to writing.31 This rule, however, is subject to myriad exceptions.32 Notably, moreover, the rule does not preclude evidence adduced as part of the factual matrix.33
Another relevant principle of interpretation is that Canadian courts will seek to promote commercial efficacy.34 Interpretations that make 'no commercial sense'35 or result in a commercial absurdity36 will be strenuously avoided, while interpretations that 'allow the contract to function and meet the commercial objective in view' will be preferred.37 Note, however, the following two limits to the doctrine. First, as with the factual matrix, commercial reasonableness is to be assessed objectively, from the perspective of both contracting parties (and not according to one party's subjective intention or desires).38 Second, the principle of commercial reasonableness will not save a party from a bargain that, although commercially sensible at the time of contract, has proven to be improvident or disadvantageous.39
Where commercial reasonableness has conflicted with a plain reading of the words of a contract, courts have taken inconsistent approaches.40 The correct approach in Ontario appears to be that, in such cases, commercial efficacy will only overwhelm the written words where the words lead to a result that is 'clearly' commercially absurd.41 In Manitoba, by contrast, the Court of Appeal has ruled that where 'a tension that exists between the literal meaning of a contract and an interpretation based upon its commercial purpose', the latter interpretation may prevail where dictated by 'business common sense'.42 The Alberta Court of Appeal has phrased the test differently yet again, holding that an interpretation that 'defeats the intention of the parties and their objective in entering into a commercial transaction in the first place should be discarded in favour of the interpretation that promotes a sensible commercial result'.43
Further to the assessment of commercial reasonableness, regardless of which of the approaches described in the preceding paragraph is adopted, the objective evidence that is admissible in the interpretive exercise will include accepted business practice in the field.44 In order to be admissible, the evidence in this regard must be reasonably certain and generally known and accepted by those operating in the relevant field.45 Similarly relevant is objective evidence regarding the genesis of the transaction, which, together with evidence of trade practices, forms a vital part of the factual matrix as it better permits judges to construe the parties' commercial purpose.46
Generally, provisions that prescribe a governing law are effective.47 Where a contract is silent on the law that governs it, the general rule is that substantive disputes will be governed by the local laws of the jurisdiction where the contract was entered into (referred to as the lex loci contractus).48 Procedural disputes, by contrast, are governed by the laws of the local adjudicating forum. In this regard, Canadian courts aim to distinguish between those rules that 'make the machinery of the forum court run smoothly' (e.g., a procedural requirement that a limitations defence be pleaded) and those rules that are 'determinative of the rights of both the parties' (e.g., the specific substantive requirements that must be met for a limitations defence to be successful).49
IV DISPUTE RESOLUTION
In Canada, there are typically three levels of court for complex commercial litigation: a provincial court of first instance, a provincial appellate court and the Supreme Court of Canada. Since 1991, Toronto has also housed the Commercial List, which acts as a specialised court of first instance for commercial disputes that meet certain criteria or are sufficiently complex (and subject to the Commercial List's ultimate discretion).50 One other common law province, Alberta, houses its own Commercial List.51 The expert commercial judges who staff these courts are generally pragmatic and business-oriented and will, where appropriate, facilitate an expedited timetable so that matters can be resolved in 'real time'.
The jurisdiction of the provincial courts is plenary in respect of all commercial disputes that occur in the province. With respect to assuming jurisdiction over extra-provincial disputes, Canadian courts will generally enforce forum selection clauses in commercial contexts so long as the clause is valid and enforceable and there is no 'strong cause' for why it should not be enforced.52 This approach should continue in light of the recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Douez v. Facebook, where three judges of the Court noted that, in commercial interactions between sophisticated parties, forum selection clauses are generally enforceable 'and to be encouraged' as providing stability and foreseeability to parties that are justifiably deemed to have informed themselves of the risks of agreeing to the clause.53
Another 'forum' that parties may select is arbitration, the use of which has significantly increased in popularity in Canada in recent years. Unlike civil litigation generally, arbitration can be private (subject to the parties' agreement); and with the number of sophisticated counsel and former judges in the ranks of Canadian arbitrators,54 arbitration is far from a 'second-class' method of dispute resolution in Canada.55 This trend has been encouraged by Canadian courts and legislatures.56 As noted by the Supreme Court of Canada, arbitration furthers the interests of justice;57 and in an era of backlog, Canadian courts are (justifiably) eager to have arbitrators act as decision-makers of first instance and undertake the review of voluminous factual evidence.58
For these reasons, and animated by some of the same principles discussed above in respect of forum selection clauses, arbitration agreements between sophisticated commercial parties will usually be enforced by Canadian courts. The general rule is that challenges to an arbitrator's jurisdiction must first be resolved by the arbitrator,59 which is known as the 'competence-competence principle'.60 As recently demonstrated, Canadian courts will generally not allow parties to circumvent contractual arbitration clauses simply by, for example, pleading in tort61 or arguing that a certain dispute is not covered by the arbitration agreement because it is not explicitly referred to therein.62 On the merits, too, Canadian courts are generally willing to defer to arbitrators as a general proposition; the parties' selection of arbitration as a forum is said to imply 'both a preference for the outcome arrived at in that forum and a limited role for judicial oversight of the award made in the arbitral forum'.63
To facilitate the use of arbitration, since the early 1990s, each Canadian province has enacted legislation that permits defendants in court-initiated litigation to apply for a stay of proceedings on the basis of the parties having previously agreed to an arbitration agreement. The domestic Arbitration Act of British Columbia is arguably the most restrictive of these statutes, requiring a stay to be ordered unless the parties' arbitration agreement is 'void, inoperative or incapable of being performed'.64 Other provincial legislation is similar, albeit somewhat less restrictive.65 Most provinces have also enacted international commercial arbitration statutes.66 These statutes are based, in full or in part, on the Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration, adopted by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on 21 June 1985, as amended by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on 7 July 2006 (the Model Law).67 Notably, the Model Law does not permit appeals on questions of fact or law, but only on questions of illegality, jurisdiction, procedural fairness and public policy.68 The general rule of interpreting the recognition and enforcement provisions of the Model Law is that 'the grounds for refusal of enforcement are to be construed narrowly'.69
V BREACH OF CONTRACT CLAIMS
To make out a claim for breach of contract, a plaintiff must show evidence of the following that is sufficiently clear, convincing and cogent:
- the existence of a valid contract;
- a breach of that contract; and
- damages flowing as a consequence of that breach.70
This test is assessed on a balance of probabilities.71
To determine the severity of a breach and the remedies that flow therefrom, Canadian law distinguishes between two types of contractual terms: conditions and warranties. A 'condition' is a term 'of such vital importance that it goes to the root of the transaction';72 warranties are important but non-fundamental terms.73 The general rule is that a breach of a warranty entitles the innocent party to sue for damages only, whereas a breach of a condition constitutes a 'repudiation' of the contract that the innocent party may elect to accept (and thereby, to treat its obligations under the contract as at an end) in addition to claiming damages.74 The lexical distinction between conditions and warranties does not dominate the repudiation analysis, however,75 which asks holistically whether there has been a breach of a 'sufficiently important term of the contract so that there is a substantial failure of performance',76 that is, whether the innocent party is deprived of something fundamental that it bargained for.
The same framework governs the doctrine of anticipatory breach. An innocent party may accept a repudiation of the contract where the other party, whether by express language or conduct, 'evinces an intention not to be bound by the contract before performance is due'.77 This question is assessed objectively, querying what a reasonable person would conclude from the breaching party's conduct, and with reference to the overarching question of whether the putative breach would deprive the innocent party of substantially the whole benefit of the contract.78
However and whenever an innocent party elects to accept a repudiation, it must promptly, clearly and unequivocally communicate that decision to the breaching party.79 (The general Canadian practice in such cases is for the innocent party to clearly reserve its right to claim damages.)80 Where an innocent party does not wish to terminate the contract, by contrast, it may waive its rights to do so.81 Two cautions must be noted for commercial parties in respect of such waivers, however. First, they often cannot be effectively retracted, in that, where the breaching party proceeds to act in reliance on a clear and unequivocal waiver, Canadian courts will often seek to protect that reliance.82 Second, where a party has a right to invoke a contractual termination provision but chooses not to do so, that party will oftentimes be held liable for the consequences of their non-action.83
VI DEFENCES TO ENFORCEMENT
A common defence to contractual claims is that there was never a valid contract to begin with; that is, that there was no valid offer and acceptance84 or that the contract is void for uncertainty.85 Canadian courts, however, are highly reluctant to invalidate written agreements made between two sophisticated entities or void provisions of a contract ab initio.86 Rather, Canadian courts apply the old English maxim that 'a deed shall never be void where the words may be applied to any extent to make it good'87 and seek to resolve contractual disputes and apparent ambiguities through the interpretive process.
Another common defence to contractual liability is the expiry of the limitations period. The limitation period in Canada for commercial claims is generally two years as established by statute,88 subject to the discoverability principle and a 15-year absolute limitation period (i.e., regardless of discoverability). The discoverability principle asks when the plaintiff knew or reasonably ought to have known about their claim and that commencing a legal proceeding would be the appropriate means of obtaining a remedy.89 A recent decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal highlights the latter aspect of the rule; in that case, the limitation period did not begin to run while the parties were engaged in mediation provided for under their contract.90 Note, however, that simply engaging in settlement negotiations is insufficient to pause the timer; per statute, parties must actually engage an independent third party (such as a mediator) to assist them in resolving their dispute in order for the limitation period to toll.91
Where there is an intervening event that frustrates the parties' contract such that performance becomes impossible, a party may invoke the common law doctrine of frustration as a defence to excuse itself from performing its outstanding contractual obligations.92 In certain provinces, legislation has codified this rule and the remedies that may be applicable where frustration is made out.93 Frustration of contract is a difficult standard to meet (its contractual cousin is the force majeure clause typically advisable in long-term framework agreements) and parties should be wary of invoking the doctrine.
With respect to the equitable defences of undue influence and unconscionability, the law is, generally speaking, that the following two elements are required for such doctrines to apply: inequality of bargaining power (at the time of contract) and meaningful unfairness (at the time of breach).94
Notably, Canadian courts have taken to applying the unconscionability standard to contractual defences in respect of which it is not historically linked; namely, limitation of liability clauses and the rule against penalties.95 As a result of the focus on inequality of bargaining power in the unconscionability analysis, penalty clauses and limitation of liability clauses agreed to by sophisticated commercial parties are generally enforced in Canada,96 even where the outcome visits an unfairness on one of the parties.97 Highlighting this jurisprudential reality is a recent decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal, where a party that failed to act reasonably in terminating a contract (notwithstanding being contractually obligated to do so) was still able to fully rely on the limitation of liability clause contained therein.98
Exceptions to the foregoing trend may be emerging. In its 2017 decision regarding penalties in Redstone Enterprises Ltd. v. Simple Technology Inc (Redstone),99 the Ontario Court of Appeal held that the defence of unconscionability can be established based solely on a 'gross disproportionality' between damages that are owing under contract and the harm actually suffered by the innocent party in respect of those damages.100 Redstone, which was endorsed in this respect by the Alberta Court of Appeal,101 reminds of an old decision of the Supreme Court of Canada (which remains good law), where the Court declined to enforce payment of a sum owing under the contract that was 'extravagant and unconscionable in amount in comparison with the greatest loss that could conceivably be proved to have followed from the breach'.102
Though these inconsistencies raise interesting jurisprudential questions,103 they may not provide meaningful assistance to sophisticated commercial parties absent truly exceptional circumstances. The equitable jurisdiction that permits courts to decline to enforce limitation of liability and penalty clauses is grounded in public policy, and in Canadian law the promotion of freedom of contract (and judicial non-interference wherever possible) is generally a dominant policy concern, especially where sophisticated commercial parties are involved.104 Even in Redstone, the Ontario Court of Appeal grounded its analysis in public policy and noted that a finding of unconscionability must be an exceptional one, strongly compelled on the facts.105
Other equitable defences may be similarly inaccessible to sophisticated commercial parties. An example of such is rectification, which allows courts to correct errors made in the recording of written legal instruments.106 First, there is the general hurdle of needing to convince the court that those certain concerns of equity militating in favour of rectification outweigh the public policy considerations militating in favour of judicial non-intervention (namely, certainty and finality in contract).107 Second, as recently confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada, the test for rectification requires that the party seeking the remedy prove (as an evidentiary matter) a prior agreement concerning the term or terms in respect of which the remedy is sought.108
Ultimately, Canadian courts apply the foregoing rules in a practical manner that seeks to protect parties' reasonable reliance. In a recent decision, for example, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a decision of a Toronto Commercial List judge who held that a contractual provision purporting to exclude liability for 'loss of profits' did not, in fact, apply to profits lost as a direct result of the breach, but rather applied only to indirect lost profits (that is, other business opportunities forgone as a result of the breach, sometimes referred to as 'consequential damages').109 In reaching this conclusion, the court below did not consider the enforceability of the exclusion clause (and the corresponding requirement of unconscionability discussed above) but instead focused on its interpretation, ultimately finding that the clause simply did not apply to profits lost as a direct result of the breach.110
VII FRAUD, MISREPRESENTATION AND OTHER CLAIMS
Parties are able to sue for negligent or fraudulent misrepresentation even if the relationship between them is governed by contract.111 The elements of negligent misrepresentation are:
- a duty of care based on a special relationship;
- a representation that is untrue, inaccurate or misleading;
- that the representor acted negligently in making the misrepresentation;
- that the representee acted reasonably in relying on the misrepresentation; and
- damages caused by the reliance.112
The elements of fraudulent misrepresentation are:
- the making of a false representation to the party alleging the wrong;
- the misrepresentation is made either:
- knowing it to be untrue;
- without belief in its truth; or
- reckless as to whether it be true or false; and
Where misrepresentation is made out, rescission of the contract is often an appropriate remedy (although damages may also be available).114
A major development in Canadian law was the recognition by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2014 of the 'organising principle of good faith' in contractual performance115 and the corresponding duty to act honestly in performance.116 The Court did not thereby impose a duty of fiduciary loyalty or of disclosure, however, or establish a rule requiring parties to forego advantages flowing from the contract out of some 'ad hoc moralism'; rather, the Court established 'a simple requirement not to lie or mislead the other party about one's contractual performance.'117 The parameters of the duty of good faith and the contexts where it might appear are still being developed in the jurisprudence.118
The general remedy for breach of contract is damages. Damages are meant to be compensatory; the basic rule is that the innocent party be placed, so far as money can, in the same situation as if the contract had been performed.119 This approach (which asks what would have happened 'but for' the breach) is referred to as providing 'expectation' damages. Where expectation damages cannot be ordered, courts will endeavour to at least protect the reliance of the innocent party wherever possible, which generally means repaying out-of-pocket expenses wasted as a result of the breach.120 However, the ability of a plaintiff to seek reliance damages is limited by the expectancy principle; a plaintiff will not, for example, recover its expenses when the evidence shows that it would have lost money on a net basis had the contract actually been performed.121
Expectation is assessed objectively and governed by the principle of remoteness, which excludes liability for losses that were not reasonably foreseeable when the contract was made.122 Foreseeability in this regard has two branches: what the breaching party reasonably ought to have known at the time of contract, and what special circumstances (if any) the breaching party was actually told about prior to entering into the contract. As highlighted by a recent decision of the British Columbia Court of Appeal, knowledge under the second branch cannot be presumed; there must be an evidentiary basis that the knowledge was 'brought home to the defendant at the time of the contract'.123
Expectation damages are also circumscribed by the doctrine of mitigation, which requires that a plaintiff take all reasonable steps to mitigate its losses at its earliest opportunity.124 The doctrine of mitigation is based on fairness, and applies in all cases; as recently confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada, claiming a relief in the alternative to damages in litigation (for example specific performance of the contract, which is discussed further below) does not in and of itself relieve a plaintiff of its obligation to mitigate – in all cases the question is what steps the plaintiff ought reasonably to have taken to reduce its damages.125
Expectation damages in Canada are further delimited by the 'minimum performance' principle, which provides that, where a defaulting party had alternative modes of performing the contract, damages are calculated on the basis of the mode of performance least burdensome to the defaulting party.126 A recent decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal highlights this principle, where the Court awarded damages to a party who terminated a contract for cause to rely on the (less onerous) termination for convenience provisions therein (on which the party could have relied, but did not).127
As noted above, the general rule is that damages must be proven. Where there has been a clear breach of contract but a strict application of the 'but for' approach to damages would limit or altogether preclude meaningful recovery; however, Canadian courts are to follow the old common law approach and apply 'sound imagination and the practice of the broad axe' to the damages analysis to ensure, as best as possible, that the innocent party is fully and fairly compensated for the breach.128
Where damages cannot be proven in the sense that money is not a complete answer to the plaintiff's claim (namely, where the thing contracted for is unique in that a substitute cannot be readily purchased on the market), specific performance of the contract can be warranted. This arises most often in the real estate context; the test is whether the putative acquirer can show a 'fair, real, and substantial justification' or a 'substantial and legitimate' interest in the land such that damages are insufficient to cure the default.129 Note that, while the common law of Canada previously presumed uniqueness in land, the Supreme Court of Canada recently overturned this presumption.130
There is a strong presumption that expectation damages will be assessed as of the date of the breach, with this presumption displaced only in (the rare) circumstances where that result would be fundamentally unfair to the innocent party.131 The rationale for assessing damages as of the day of breach is related to the doctrine of mitigation discussed above, which requires that a party take steps to crystallise its losses at its earliest opportunity.132 Thus, the cases where the presumption is displaced are generally only those in which it would be fundamentally unfair to impose a requirement that the innocent party have crystallised its damages (notionally or actually) on or about the day of breach.133
Claims for lost opportunity (i.e., loss of chance), although based on the hypothetical value of a future event, are also assessed as of the date of breach. This is done on a probabilistic basis.134
To secure a remedy for lost opportunity, a plaintiff must show that:
- but for the defendant's wrongful conduct, the plaintiff had a chance to obtain a benefit or avoid a loss;
- the chance lost was sufficiently real and significant to rise above mere speculation;
- whether the plaintiff would have avoided the loss or made the gain depended on someone or something other than the plaintiff himself or herself; and
- the lost chance had some practical value.135
Canadian contract law draws heavily from the principles of British common law, but Canadian courts and legislatures have, in recent years, done much to modernise the law and ensure it responds to the exigencies of present-day commerce and technology. More pragmatic and flexible concepts now govern the creation, interpretation and enforcement of contracts. The introduction of specialised commercial courts and the fostering of a robust regime for the determination of disputes by arbitration allow contracting parties to obtain timely and effective resolution of disputes. Commercial parties can be confident that Canada provides a modern and effective legal regime for their contractual relationships.
1 Alan H Mark is a partner, and Jesse-Ross Cohen is an associate at Goodmans LLP. The authors wish to acknowledge the contributions of Steve Inglis (student-at-law).
2 Constitution Act, 1867 at 91 and 92.
3 Constitution Act, 1867 at 92(13).
4 The Canadian provinces are, from west to east: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Canada also has three territories, which are not the subject of this paper: Yukon, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.
5 Certain instances of non-alignment are discussed herein.
6 John D McCamus, The Law of Contracts (2nd ed) (Toronto: Irwin Law, 2012) ('McCamus on Contracts') at p. 31.
7 The old common law rule is that a 'peppercorn' of value will always be adequate. See, for example, Shaw Production Way Holdings Inc. v. Sunvault Energy, Inc., 2018 BCSC 926 at 136, citing Sheckter v. Polonuk, 1992 ABCA 324 (Alta. C.A.). Note that the consideration given by each party need not flow to the counterparty, but can inure to the benefit of third parties.
8 McCamus on Contracts at 31. See also the discussion in Copperthwaite v. Reed, 2016 ONSC 1824 (S.C.J.), citing Harvey v. Perry,  1 S.C.R. 233, A.G. Guest, Chitty on Contracts (27th ed.) (UK: Sweet & Maxwell Ltd., 1994) at p. 100 and G.H.L. Fridman, The Law of Contract in Canada (6th ed.) (Toronto: Carswell, 2011) at p. 46.
9 Angela Swan and Jakub Adamski, Canadian Contract Law (3rd ed.) (Toronto: LexisNexis, 2012) ('Swan on Contracts') at 4.45–4.48. Note, however, that the requirement of unequivocal acceptance does not alter the burden of proof; the test of acceptance is always assessed objectively. See: Marehard v. Ridgway, 2002 BCCA 405 at 27.
10 'The important question is not what the offeror intended but what the offeree reasonably understood by what the offeror did or said': Swan on Contracts at 4.12. See also, for example, Saint John Tug Boat Co. v. Irving Refinery Ltd.,  S.C.R. 614,  S.C.J. No. 38 at 18–20.
11 Swan on Contracts at 4.51.
12 See, for example, Cana International Distributing Inc. v. Standard Innovation Corporation, 2018 ONCA 145 at 12, where the court held that the subsequent 'negotiations concerned relatively minor matters of the kind that would be expected to arise within the framework of a long-term exclusive distributorship agreement'.
13 The leading Ontario law remains the decision of the Court of Appeal in Gilbert Steel Ltd. v. University Construction Ltd.,  O.J. No. 2087, 12 O.R. (2d) 19; see Richcraft Homes Ltd. v. Urbandale Corp., 2016 ONCA 622 at 43.
14 Greater Fredericton Airport Authority Inc. v. NAV Canada, 2008 NBCA 28 at 31–32.
15 Rosas v. Toca, 2018 BCCA 191 at 176. In support of this finding, the Court also cited the decision of the New Zealand Court of Appeal in Teat v. Willcocks,  NZCA 162,  3 N.Z.L.R. 129 at 5. The Ontario Court of Appeal, for its part, recently declined to reconsider the enforceability of unilateral modifications but acknowledged that 'the time might be ripe' to do so: Richcraft Homes Ltd. v. Urbandale Corp., 2016 ONCA 622 at 43.
16 Swan on Contracts at 4.165.
17 Swan on Contracts at 4.156 and 4.162–4.164. For example, in a case where the parties are already in a landlord-lessee relationship and agree to renew such arrangement at 'the market rate prevailing…as mutually agreed': Empress Towers Ltd. v. Bank of Nova Scotia,  B.C.W.L.D. 2293,  C.L.D. 1089 (C.A.).
18 Swan on Contracts at 4.148.
19 Obviously, this is not the general commercial practice.
20 See, for example, the legislation in Ontario: Statute of Frauds, R.S.O. 1990, Chapter S.19; in British Columbia: Law and Equity Act, [RSBC 1996] Chapter 253 at 59(1).
21 Guided by Lord Wilberforce of the United Kingdom House of Lords, who noted that '[n]o universal rule can cover all such cases: they must be resolved by reference to the intentions of the parties, by sound business practice and in some cases by a judgment where the risks should lie.' Barry B Sookman, Computer, Internet and Electronic Commerce Law, Chapter 10.7 – 'Time And Place Of Contract Formation', citing Brinkibon v Stahag Stahl und Stahlwarenhandels GmbH,  2 A.C. 34;  2 W.K.R. 264 (H.L.). See also, citing Brinkibon, Swan on Contracts.
For example, the Ontario Court of Appeal recently overturned the finding of a trial judge that the exchange and signing of a term sheet over several weeks via email constituted 'two unique offers' (notwithstanding that the parties ultimately signed the same document, albeit weeks apart); applying good business sense, the Court found that the parties had simply executed the same contract in counterpart. Cana International Distributing Inc. v. Standard Innovation Corporation, 2018 ONCA 145 at 8–11, citing Foley v. R.,  4 C.T.C. 2016 (T.C.C. [Informal Procedure]) at 32: 'Agreements signed in counterpart are a part of commercial life.'
22 See, for example, the Electronic Commerce Act, 2000, S.O. 2000, c. 17. This statute codifies, among many other things, that contract is not invalid or unenforceable by reason only of being in electronic form.
23 See: Kim Nayyer, Blockchain: Lawyers, Take Note, 25 May 2017, accessed online (www.cba.org); Ann Macaulay, Smart Contracts: Coming Soon To A Law Firm Near You, 26 February 2018, accessed online (www.cba.org).
24 Creston Moly Corp. v Sattva Capital Corp. 2014 SCC 53 ('Sattva') at 49. The Supreme Court of Canada has mandated a 'practical, common-sense approach not dominated by technical rules of construction'. Sattva at 47.
25 There is a 'cardinal presumption' that parties intended what they said in the contract: Ventas Inc. v Sunrise Senior Living Real Estate Investment Trust, 2007 ONCA 205 at 24; Petty v. Telus Corp., 2002 BCCA 135 at 14, citing Chitty on Contracts (28th ed) (London: Street & Maxwell 1999); University Hill Holdings Inc. (Formerly 589918 B.C. Ltd.) v. Canada, 2017 FCA 232 at 57, affirming lower court's reasoning.
26 Nortel Networks Corp., Re, 2016 ONCA 332 at 58.
27 Pursuant to a 'practical, common-sense' approach mandated by the Supreme Court of Canada: Creston Moly Corp. v. Sattva Capital Corp., 2014 SCC 53 at 47.
28 See: Dumbrell v Regional Group of Cos., 2007 ONCA 59 at 52–54, citing McCamus, The Law of Contracts (Toronto: Irwin Law, 2005) at 710-11; IFP Technologies (Canada) Inc. v. EnCana Midstream and Marketing, 2017 ABCA 157 at 129; Seven Oaks Inn Partnership v. Directcash Management Inc., 2014 SKCA 106; Langley Lo-Cost Builders Ltd. v. 474835 B.C. Ltd., 2000 BCCA 365 at 29.
29 Creston Moly Corp. v Sattva Capital Corp., 2014 SCC 53 at 58. This is a question of fact. Subsequent conduct is not part of the factual matrix (and can only be resorted to in cases of ambiguity): Shewchuk v. Blackmont Capital Inc., 2016 ONCA 912 at 46–50.
30 Eli Lilly & Co. v. Novopharm Ltd.,  2 S.C.R. 129 at 54–59.
31 Creston Moly Corp. v Sattva Capital Corp., 2014 SCC 53 at 58.
32 Swan on Contracts at 3.1.2. The exceptions include evidence adduced to: (1) show that the contract was invalid due to fraud, misrepresentation, incapacity, lack of consideration or lack of contracting intention; (2) dispel ambiguities in the written text; (3) support a claim for rectification; (4) establish a condition precedent; (5) establish a collateral agreement; (6) support an allegation that the contract does not constitute the entire agreement between the parties; (7) support a claim for an equitable remedy; and (8) support a claim in tort that an oral statement was in breach of the duty of care.
33 Creston Moly Corp. v. Sattva Capital Corp., 2014 SCC 53 at 59–60.
34 Salah v. Timothy's Coffees of the World Inc., 2010 ONCA 673 at 16; Kentucky Fried Chicken Canada v. Scott's Food Services Inc.,  O.J. No. 4368 (CA) at 27. This is in keeping with the 'practical, common-sense' approach mandated by the Supreme Court in Sattva: Warburg-Stuart Management Corp. v DBG Holdings Inc., 2015 ONSC 1594 at 30.
35 Laudervest Developments Ltd. v. Rottenberg,  O.J. No. 140 (S.C.J.) (aff'd  O.J. No. 4708 (C.A.), leave to appeal to SCC ref'd  SCCA No 207) at 17.
36 Kentucky Fried Chicken Canada v. Scott's Food Services Inc.,  O.J. No. 4368 (C.A.) at 27.
37 Humphries v. Lufkin Industries Canada Ltd., 2011 ABCA 366 at 15, citing Consolidated Bathurst Export Ltd. v. Mutual Boiler & Machinery Insurance Co.,  S.C.J. No. 133 at 12–13.
38 King v. Operating Engineers Training Institute of Manitoba Inc., 2011 MBCA 80 at 75; Kentucky Fried Chicken Canada v. Scott's Food Services Inc.,  O.J. No. 4368 (C.A.) at 27; Hunt River Camps/Air Northland Ltd. v. Canamera Geological Ltd.,  N.J. No. 325, 168 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 207 (C.A.) at 28.
39 See, for example, Northrock Resources v. ExxonMobil Canada Energy, 2017 SKCA 60 at 22.
40 Hall on Interpretation at 63–65.
41 As noted by Hall on Interpretation at 65, citing SimEx Inc. v. IMAX Corp.,  O.J. No. 5389 (CA) at 20–23. See, more recently, Thunder Bay (City) v. Canadian National Railway, 2016 ONSC 469 at 43.
42 As noted by Hall on Interpretation at 65, citing Nickel Developments Ltd. v. Canada Safeway Ltd., 2001 MBCA 79 ('Nickel Developments') at 34–35, citing Mannai Investment Co. v. Eagle Star Life Assurance Co.,  3 All E.R. 352 (Eng. H.L.) ('Mannai') at p. 964.
43 Bearspaw Petroleum Ltd. v. EnCana Corp., 2011 ABCA 7 at 24, citing Mannai and Nickel Developments.
44 See, for example, King v. Operating Engineers Training Institute of Manitoba Inc., 2011 MBCA 80 at 80; Glaswegian Enterprises Inc. v. BC Tel Mobility Cellular Inc.,  B.C.J. No. 2946, 101 B.C.A.C. 62 (C.A.) at 18–19.
45 Geoff Hall, Canadian Contractual Interpretation Law (3rd) (Toronto: LexisNexis, 2016) at 122. Generally this will need to be established by expert evidence.
46 See: Creston Moly Corp. v. Sattva Capital Corp., 2014 SCC 53,  2 S.C.R. 633 (S.C.C.) at 47 and Kentucky Fried Chicken Canada v. Scott's Food Services Inc.,  O.J. No. 4368, 114 O.A.C. 357 (C.A.) at 25, approving Reardon Smith Line Ltd. v. Yngvar Hansen-Tangen,  1 W.L.R. 989 at 995–96 (U.K.H.L.).
47 See, for example, Thyssen Canada Ltd. v. Mariana Maritime S.A.,  3 F.C. 398, 254 N.R. 346 (C.A. at 22–23.
48 Yugraneft Corp. v. Rexx Management Corp., 2010 SCC 19 at 27, citing Tolofson v. Jensen,  3 S.C.R. 1022,  S.C.J. No. 110 at 74–89.
49 Tolofson v. Jensen,  3 S.C.R. 1022,  S.C.J. No. 110 at 85–86 and 89.
50 The Commercial List has issued a 'Practice Direction' which sets out the type of matters which may be listed on the Commercial List. This provision contains a 'basket clause', which permits for listing any 'such other commercial matters as the judge presiding over the Commercial List may direct to be listed'. Consolidated Practice Direction Concerning the Commercial List, effective 1 July 2014 at Part II(1).
51 There is also the 'Commercial Division' of the Quebec courts.
52 Douez v. Facebook, Inc., 2017 SCC 33 at 28–29. This requires a court to consider 'all the circumstances…including the convenience of the parties, fairness between the parties and the interests of justice'.
53 Douez v. Facebook, Inc., 2017 SCC 33 at 31.
54 Including, as of recently, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Her Honour Justice McLachlin.
55 Seidel v. TELUS Communications Inc., 2011 SCC 15,  1 S.C.R. 531 at 89–103.
56 'The law favours giving effect to arbitration agreements. This is evident in both legislation and in jurisprudence.' Haas v. Gunasekaram, 2016 ONCA 744 at 10.
57 To use the language of the Supreme Court of Canada: Seidel v. TELUS Communications Inc., 2011 SCC 15,  1 S.C.R. 531 at 89–103.
58 See, for example, Greer v. Babey, 2016 SKCA 45 at 30, citing Union des consommateurs v. Dell Computer Corp., 2007 SCC 34,  2 S.C.R. 801 at 74: 'if the challenge requires the production and review of factual evidence, the court should normally refer the case to arbitration.'
59 Except where the challenge is solely on a question of law or a question of mixed fact of law that requires only a superficial consideration of the documentary evidence in the record.
60 Union des consommateurs v. Dell Computer Corp., 2007 SCC 34,  2 S.C.R. 801 at 84–86; Seidel v. Telus Communications Inc., 2011 SCC 15,  1 S.C.R. 531 at 29. To be clear, the 'competence-competence principle' is no more than an attempt to properly manifest the parties' intentions, that is, sophisticated parties can contract whatever variation of the principle suits their needs; see, for example, Enmax Energy Corp. v. TransAlta Generation Partnership, 2015 ABCA 383 at 23.
61 Haas v. Gunasekaram, 2016 ONCA 744 at 32–35.
62 See Harrison v. UBS Holding Canada Ltd., 2014 NBCA 26 at 30; noting also that even claims of fraud and misrepresentation may be determined by arbitration.
63 See Popack v. Lipszyc, 2016 ONCA 135 at 26, citing Quintette Coal Ltd. v. Nippon Steel Corp. (1990),  1 W.W.R. 219, at p. 229 (B.C.C.A.), leave to appeal refused,  S.C.C.A. No.
64 See McMillan v. McMillan, 2016 BCCA 441 at 31, citing the Arbitration Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 55 at 15(2).
65 The Arbitration Act of Ontario, for example, generally requires a stay of court-initiated proceedings where there is an arbitration agreement but contains more exceptions to this rule than the British Columbia statute (most notably, where the matter is a 'proper one for default or summary judgment'): Arbitration Act, 1991, S.O. 1991, c. 17 at 7.
66 See, for example, in Ontario: International Commercial Arbitration Act, 2017, S.O. 2017, c. 2, Sched. 5; in British Columbia: International Commercial Arbitration Act, [RSBC 1996] Chapter 233; in Manitoba: The International Commercial Arbitration Act, C.C.S.M. c. C151; in New Brunswick: International Commercial Arbitration Act, RSNB 2011, c 176.
67 See Yugraneft Corp. v. Rexx Management Corp., 2010 SCC 19 at 11, noting that the Model Law is a 'codification of best practices' that 'has been adopted, subject to some modifications, by every jurisdiction in Canada'. At one end of the spectrum is the Manitoba statute, which defines the Model Law as the 'International Law' to be followed in respect of all international commercial arbitration agreements and awards in that province: The International Commercial Arbitration Act, C.C.S.M. c. C151 at 1(1), 4(1) and 4(2). The British Columbia statute, by contrast, requires that arbitrators have regard to the Model Law but also to other texts as well as the 'need to promote uniformity in its application and the observance of good faith': International Commercial Arbitration Act, [RSBC 1996] Chapter 233 at 6(1). The Ontario statute requires application of the Model Law in context of the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, adopted by the United Nations Conference on International Commercial Arbitration in New York on 10 June 1958: International Commercial Arbitration Act, 2017, S.O. 2017, c. 2, Sched. 5 at 2(1) and 5(1).
68 Model Law at Chapter VII, Article 34.
69 Popack v. Lipszyc, 2018 ONCA 635 at 40, citing Corporacion Transnacional de Inversiones S.A. de C.V. v. STET International S.p.A. (1999), 45 O.R. (3d) 183 (Ont. S.C.J. [Commercial List]), at 26, aff'd (2000), 49 O.R. (3d) 414 (C.A.), leave to appeal refused,  1 S.C.R. xi.
70 Where damages cannot be proven, courts may find a breach but award only nominal damages.
71 As noted by the Supreme Court of Canada, 'there is only one civil standard of proof at common law and that is proof on a balance of probabilities': C. (R.) v. McDougall, 2008 SCC 53 at 40 and 46. Note that this same standard of proof applies to the defences to breach of contract discussed in Part VI.
72 Deputy Minister of National Revenue v. Mattel Canada Inc., 2001 SCC 36 at 58, citing P.S. Atiyah, The Sale of Goods, 8th ed. (London: Pitman Publishing, 1990)
73 Usually in sophisticated commercial contracts, conditions are express; courts may imply additional conditions but the test to do so is high. See Swan on Contracts at 7.3.
74 Potter v. New Brunswick (Legal Aid Services Commission), 2015 SCC 10 at 145–149.
75 See Swan on Contracts at 7.5.
76 Potter v. New Brunswick (Legal Aid Services Commission), 2015 SCC 10 at 145.
77 Spirent Communications of Ottawa Ltd. v. Quake Technologies (Canada) Inc., 2008 ONCA 92 at 37, leave to appeal ref'd ( S.C.C.A. No. 151).
78 Spirent Communications of Ottawa Ltd. v. Quake Technologies (Canada) Inc., 2008 ONCA 92 at 37, leave to appeal ref'd ( S.C.C.A. No. 151).
79 Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, LLP v. BDO Dunwoody LLP, 2016 ONCA 281 at 6, citing McCamus on Contracts at p. 641. See also: Gulston v. Aldred, 2011 BCCA 147 at 50.
80 Although technically, there may not be a specific legal requirement to do so. As noted by one judge, 'the right to sue for damages for breach of contract is an implied term of any contract provided…that there is no provision to the contrary': 1394918 Ontario Ltd. v. 1310210 Ontario Inc.,  O.J. No. 334, 103 A.C.W.S. (3d) 293 (High Ct.).
81 Generally, a party may waive any term that is for its own benefit. See, for example, Palkovics v. Barta, 2013 BCCA 181 at 13-14; 1258816 Ontario Inc. v. Business Depot Inc.,  O.J. No. 1007, 14 B.L.R. (4th) 21 (C.A.) at 2.
82 As noted in Swan on Contracts at 2.239–2.240.
83 See, for example, Dinicola v. Huang & Danczkay Properties, 1998, 111 O.A.C. 147, 163 D.L.R. (4th) 286 (C.A.) at 7. In that case, a party elected not to invoke their right to terminate an ongoing construction project, and thereby became liable for losses suffered by the project subsequently. See, similarly although not directly related to the doctrine of waiver, the recent decision of the British Columbia Court of Appeal in Cellular Baby Cell Phones Accessories Specialist Ltd. v. Fido Solutions Inc., 2017 BCCA 50. In that case, a party was found liable for failing to promptly exercise a right of immediate termination under the contract.
84 See Part II, above, for a detailed discussion of the rules of offer and acceptance.
85 See, for example, Kirchner v. Dielmann Holdings Ltd., 2014 MBCA 21 at 8–9; Vandal v. Cousineau, 2015 ABCA 408 at 13.
86 Johnson v. BFI Canada Inc., 2010 MBCA 101 at 74, citing Geoff R Hall, Canadian Contractual Interpretation Law (Markham: LexisNexis Canada Inc., 2007) at 2.6.1. See also: Sherry v. CIBC Mortgages Inc., 2016 BCCA 240 at 62, citing Marquest Industries Ltd. v. Willows Poultry Farms Ltd.,  B.C.J. No. 231, 1 D.L.R. (3d) 513 (C.A.) at 12. See, further, Part III – Contractual Interpretation.
87 See, for example, Sherry v. CIBC Mortgages Inc., 2016 BCCA 240 at 62, citing Marquest Industries Ltd. v. Willows Poultry Farms Ltd. (1968), 1 D.L.R. (3d) 513 (B.C. C.A.); Vandal v. Cousineau, 2015 ABCA 408 at 26; Hunt River Camps/Air Northland Ltd. v. Canamera Geological Ltd.,  N.J. No. 325, 168 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 207 (C.A.) at 29.
88 Although Quebec law is not the subject of this article, we note that the limitation period in Quebec is three years.
89 407 ETR Concession Co. v. Day, 2016 ONCA 709, 133 O.R. (3d) 762 (Ont. C.A.), leave to appeal refused, (2017),  S.C.C.A. No. 509 (S.C.C.), at 40. For a further discussion of the discoverability principle in Canada, see: Zapfe v. Barnes,  O.J. No. 2856 (C.A.), citing Central & Eastern Trust Co. v. Rafuse,  2 S.C.R. 147 at 224. Note that the old common law 'special circumstances' doctrine (which permits parties to escape limitation periods where, for example, their lawyer missed the deadline) has been eroded in recent years, and no longer exists in certain provinces; see, for example, the decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal in Abrahamovitz v. Berens, 2018 ONCA 252 at 24–27, citing Joseph v. Paramount Canada's Wonderland, 2008 ONCA 469 ('Joseph') at 25–27. See also the decision of the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal in Global Aerospace Inc. v. Insurance Co. of State of Pennsylvania, 2010 SKCA 96 at 132–137. The Court in Joseph recognised the harshness of this approach, but held that to construe the law otherwise would be 'contrary to the purpose of the new [Ontario Limitations] Act by removing the certainty of its limitation scheme'.
90 See PQ Licensing S.A. v. LPQ Central Canada Inc., 2018 ONCA 331 at 47–53. It was only when one of the parties formally filed a notice to arbitrate that the limitation period began to run.
91 See, for example, Limitations Act, 2002, S.O. 2022, c.24, Sched. B at section 11(1).
92 The standard of impossibility is elusive, perhaps best defined as an event that makes performance 'radically different' or 'so significantly changes' the nature of the parties' rights and obligations from what could have reasonably been anticipated in the circumstances as known at the time of contract, such that it is now unjust to hold them to the literal text of the contract: Swan on Contracts at 8.303, citing various decisions.
93 See, for example, Frustrated Contracts Act, R.S.O. 1990, Chapter F.34.
94 Douez v. Facebook, Inc., 2017 SCC 33 ('Douez') at 115. Provincial appellate courts have similarly held; see, for example, Downer v. Pitcher, 2017 NLCA 13 at 7–54.
95 With respect to clauses limiting liability, see: Tercon Contractors Ltd. v. British Columbia (Minister of Transportation & Highways), 2010 SCC 4. With respect to penalties, see: Birch v. Union of Taxation Employees, Local 70030, 2008 ONCA 809 at 32–40.
96 See Syncrude Canada Ltd. v. Hunter Engineering Co.,  1 S.C.R. 426 at p. 464: 'I have no doubt that unconscionability is not an issue in this case. Both [parties] are large and commercially sophisticated companies. Both knew or should have known what they were doing and what they had bargained for when they entered into the contract.'
97 Notably, however, a party that itself acts unconscionably may not be permitted to rely on a limitation of liability clause. For example, a company knowingly supplying defective product without disclosing such; 'a party to a contract will not be permitted to engage in unconscionable conduct secure in the knowledge that no liability can be imposed upon it because of an exclusionary clause'. Plas-Tex Canada Ltd. v. Dow Chemical of Canada Ltd., 2004 ABCA 309 (C.A.), aff'd on this point: Tercon Contractors Ltd. v. British Columbia (Minister of Transportation & Highways), 2010 SCC 4 at 119.
98 Chuang v. Toyota Canada Inc., 2016 ONCA 584 at 22 and 31–34 and 49
99 Redstone Enterprises Ltd. v. Simple Technology Inc., 2017 ONCA 282 at 26–30. This case is pre-Douez. Note, however, that Douez did not consider penalty clauses or the related doctrine of relief from forfeiture.
100 The Court describes inequality of bargaining power as an 'indicia' of unconscionability, hierarchically equivalent to inequality of bargaining power in the unconscionability analysis: Redstone Enterprises Ltd. v. Simple Technology Inc., 2017 ONCA 282 at 26–30 (Redstone).
101 See Buterman v. St. Albert Roman Catholic Separate School District No. 734, 2017 ABCA 196 at 55. This decision was released on the same day as Douez.
102 H.F. Clarke Ltd. v. Thermidaire Corp.,  1 S.C.R. 319 at 28 (Thermidaire).
103 Notably, for example, inequality of bargaining power is queried as at the time of contract formation whereas the analysis in Redstone and Thermidaire queried the consequences of the breach.
104 This is true even in Redstone; Redstone Enterprises Ltd. v. Simple Technology Inc., 2017 ONCA 282 at 22–24. See also, for example, Downer v. Pitcher, 2017 NLCA 13 at 18.
105 Redstone Enterprises Ltd. v. Simple Technology Inc., 2017 ONCA 282 at 22 and 25.
106 Rectification is not 'equity's version of a mulligan'; courts will rectify instruments that were not properly recorded, not where the faithful recording of an instrument has led to an undesirable or otherwise unexpected outcome: Canada (Attorney General) v. Fairmont Hotels Inc., 2016 SCC 56 at 39.
107 As noted by the Supreme Court of Canada, a 'relaxed approach to rectification as a substitute for due diligence at the time a document is signed would undermine the confidence of the commercial world in written contracts': Canada (Attorney General) v. Fairmont Hotels Inc., 2016 SCC 56 at 13, citing Sylvan Lake Golf & Tennis Club Ltd. v. Performance Industries Ltd., 2002 SCC 19 at 31.
108 Canada (Attorney General) v. Fairmont Hotels Inc., 2016 SCC 56 at 26–33, overturning the decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal on this point in Juliar v. Canada (Attorney General),  O.J. No. 3554,  2 C.T.C. 464 (C.A.).
109 Atos IT Solutions v. Sapient Canada Inc., 2018 ONCA 374.
110 Atos IT Solutions v. Sapient Canada Inc., 2018 ONCA 374 at 72. The court came to this conclusion with explicit reference to the parties' relationship of contractual reliance and the need to compensate the non-breaching party for the total 'loss of bargain' suffered.
111 See, for example, Carom v. Bre-X Minerals Ltd.,  O.J. No. 4014, 103 A.C.W.S. (3d) 17 (C.A.) at 43, citing Parna v. G. & S. Properties Ltd. (1970), 15 D.L.R. (3d) 336 (S.C.C.) at 344. To protect against such claims, parties will often disclaim liability for negligence as an express term of the contract.
112 Queen v. Cognos Inc.,119931S.C.J. No. 3.
113 Century Services Inc. v. LeRoy, 2015 BCCA 120 at 19.
114 See, for example, Ragin v. Ven-Cor Vending Distributors Ltd., 2001 CarswellOnt 2511, 106 A.C.W.S. (3d) 642 (S.C.J.) at 23.
115 Bhasin v. Hrynew, 2014 SCC 71 at 32–70.
116 Bhasin v. Hrynew, 2014 SCC 71 at 73.
117 Bhasin v. Hrynew, 2014 SCC 71 at 70, 73 and 86.
118 For example, in a recent decision the Alberta Court of Appeal held that the duty of good faith does not require that discretionary powers granted under a contract be exercised fairly and reasonably (but only that such powers not be exercised in a manner that is 'capricious' or 'arbitrary'): Styles v. Alberta Investment Management Corp., 2017 ABCA 1 at 49–53, leave to appeal ref'd (2017 CarswellAlta 949).
119 Swan on Contracts at 6.11.
120 McCamus on Contracts at p. 890.
121 McCamus on Contracts at p. 894.
122 See: Houweling Nurseries Ltd. v. Fisons Western Corp.,  B.C.W.L.D. 1254,  C.L.D. 592 (C.A.) (McLachlin, JA, as she then was) at 27, citing Hadley v. Baxendale (1854), 9 Exch. 341, 156 E.R. 145 at 151.
123 Al Boom Wooden Pallets Factory v. Jazz Forest Products (2004) Ltd., 2016 BCCA 268 at 78–79.
124 Southcott Estates Inc. v. Toronto Catholic District School Board, 2012 SCC 51 at 24.
125 Southcott Estates Inc. v. Toronto Catholic District School Board, 2012 SCC 51 at 39–40.
126 Open Window Bakery, 2004 SCC 9 at 11 and 20.
127 Atos IT Solutions v. Sapient Canada Inc., 2018 ONCA 374. Note that leave to the Supreme Court of Canada has been sought: 2018 CarswellOnt 11486
128 Teva Canada Limited v. Janssen Inc., ۲۰۱۸ FCA ۳۳ at ۳۲–۳۶, citing Watson, Watson, Laidlaw & Co. v. Pott, Cassels & Williamson (۱۹۱۴), ۳۱ R.P.C. ۱۰۴ (U.K.H.L.)
129 Southcott Estates Inc. v. Toronto Catholic District School Board, 2012 SCC 51 at 92, citing Baud Corp., N.V. v. Brook,  S.C.J. No. 106,  1 S.C.R. 633.
130 Which is the natural consequence of the 'advent of condominiums and other forms of interest in land'; see: Youyi Group Holdings (Canada) Ltd. v. Brentwood Lanes Canada Ltd., 2014 BCCA 388 at 52, citing Southcott Estates Inc. v. Toronto Catholic District School Board, 2012 SCC 51 at 95.
131 See Rougemount Capital Inc. v. Computer Associates International Inc., 2016 ONCA 847 at 45 and 50–53, citing Johnson v. Agnew (1979),  A.C. 367 (U.K. H.L.), at pp. 400-401. As an example of such unfairness, see footnote 132.
132 The rationale for early crystallization is explained by Laskin, JA (in dissent) in Kinbauri Gold Corp. v. IAMGOLD International African Mining Gold Corp.,  O.J. No. 4568, 135 A.C.W.S. (3d) 70 (C.A.): 'An early crystallisation of the plaintiff's damages promotes efficient behaviour: the litigants become as free as possible to conduct their affairs as they see fit. Early crystallization also avoids speculation: the plaintiff is precluded from speculating at the defendant's expense by reaping the benefits of an increase in the value of the goods in question without bearing any risk of loss.'
133 For example, in a share transaction where the market for the shares is volatile or non-existent, it would not accord with a commercial party's expectations to sell such shares into the market on the exact day of breach absent some assurance that it would not be more profitable to sell the shares a day, week, month or year later. See, for example: Kinbauri Gold Corp. v. IAMGOLD International African Mining Gold Corp.,  O.J. No. 4568, 135 A.C.W.S. (3d) 70 (C.A.) (per Laskin, J.A., concurring) at 126, citing Johnson v. Agnew (1979),  A.C. 367 (U.K.H.L.). Baud Corp., N.V. v. Brook,  6 W.W.R. 301,  S.C.J. No. 106,  1 S.C.R. 633 at 61, citing Atiyah, Sale of Goods, 4th ed. (1971), p. 294: 'In particular it is unrealistic to suppose that a buyer will in practice be able to buy goods on the market on the very day on which the seller fails to deliver.'
134 That is, courts will award damages equal to the probability of securing the lost benefit (or avoiding the loss) multiplied by the value of the lost benefit (or the loss sustained): Berry v. Pulley, 2015 ONCA 449 at 72.
135 Berry v. Pulley, 2015 ONCA 449 at 70, citing Folland v. Reardon (2005), 74 O.R. (3d) 688 (C.A.) at 73.