Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and the resulting ‘social licence’ that its faithful exercise can deliver is becoming as basic to the needs of ore mining, oil and gas, forestry, fishery and other resource-based businesses as extraction licences and permits.
Complacency and sloppy (or non-existent) CSR planning and practice have cost corporations dearly in project delays and interruptions, profitability and reputation.
Ontario’s Divisional Court ruled recently that even if you are completely blameless you may still be ordered by the Ministry of the Environment to clean up contamination. Contamination problems in your general vicinity which touch on your property will now be your business even if you had nothing to do with how they came about.
Ontario continues to develop as a well regarded forum for the resolution of commercial and trade disputes. Its Commercial Mediation Act, 2010 (the “Ontario Act”), for example, contains some interesting features regarding mediation which are well worth considering when evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of a particular choice of forum in international commercial and trade (in particular, customs) disputes.
The prosecution of Niko Resources Ltd. under Canada’s Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act (CFPOA) has received a great deal of attention. In addition to being the first significant prosecution under Canadian anti-bribery legislation, the case and its outcome suggest that despite the complexity and cost of what are often multi-country investigations over several years, more vigorous enforcement of anti-corruption legislation may soon be the norm in Canada.
The Inco case is an environmental class action by 7,000 surrounding property owners against Inco that went to trial in 2010. The main claim in the lawsuit was that property values in the Port Colborne area had been adversely affected over many years as a result of particle emissions from the operation of Inco's nickel refinery. Inco lost at trial and had a $36 million judgment awarded against it. Inco appealed.
Mediation in its various forms continues to evolve as an alternative to litigation.
Ontario’s new Commercial Mediation Act, 2010, which took effect last October 25, introduces some welcome features to this collaborative dispute resolution process generally, one in which the parties opt to have a mediator, who cannot impose any particular outcome, help them resolve the dispute.