Emily Kirkpatrick and William Stransky were successful on behalf of the respondent, Kimberley Marie Pfaff, in upholding a decision of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench. The action underlying the appeal was one of twelve proposed class proceedings across Canada commenced against a group of retailers alleging a price-fixing conspiracy involving packaged bread. Ms. Pfaff, as a representative plaintiff in a consortium led by Strosberg Sasso Sutts LLP and Orr Taylor LLP, supported a stay of the action in favour of permitting an Ontario-based national class action to proceed. On appeal, Emily and Will successfully argued that the case management judge had jurisdiction to grant a stay of proceedings pursuant to section 5 of Alberta’s Class Proceedings Act prior to any argument for certification.
In upholding the decision of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, the Court of Appeal clarified and confirmed the flexibility of courts to manage multi-jurisdictional proceedings in order to advance the objectives of class proceedings generally. Recognizing the need for a “culture shift” in that area (as most outlined in the Canadian Bar Associations’ Resolution 18-03-A, “Canadian Judicial Protocol for the Management of Multi-jurisdictional Class Actions and the Provision of Class Action Notice”, (2018), referenced by the Court), the decision emphasizes the need for judicial economy and the discouragement of overlapping and duplicative proceedings in multiple provinces. The full reasons can be found here.