Neil S. Abbott Partner

Speaks:  English

Year of Call: 2011 - Nunavut

Year of Call: 1992 - Ontario

Primary phone: +1 416-862-4376

Fax: +1 416-863-3476


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Primary office:  Toronto

Neil S. Abbott

Neil Abbott is recognized as one of the leading construction law and consumer financial services lawyers in Canada. He is a partner in Gowling WLG's Toronto office and the founding chair of the firm's Construction and Consumer Finance groups.

Neil is also co-leader of the firm's India group.

Construction law

Neil is an expert in construction law as certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada, is a Lexpert-ranked lawyer for construction law, and has been ranked in Best Lawyers in Canada for construction law for more than a decade. He is a member of the Executive of the Construction and Infrastructure Law Section of the Ontario Bar Association. He divides his practice between solicitor and dispute resolution work.

Neil's solicitor expertise includes negotiating and drafting all types of construction contracts - including CCDC, CCA, OCA, AIA, tenders and bids - and providing construction management advice, including handling of delay claims, termination of contracts, retention of completion contractors and bond claims. He regularly advises lenders, municipalities and universities in project finance. A significant portion of Neil's practice involves acting for U.S. and European clients building in Canada.

As a litigator, Neil has appeared in all levels of court in Ontario and Nunavut, and has also appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada. He has arbitrated and mediated national and international cases in almost every province. In addition to the prosecution of lien, bond and trust claims, Neil has assumed litigation in the course of receiverships; enforced warranty and deficiency claims under contract as well as for provincial new home regulators; acted in disputes amongst joint venture partners, between owners and contractors, between consortiums and infrastructure regulators, and between developers and constructors of solar, wind and alternate energy power projects; and handled expropriation claims and mass tenancy terminations for the purpose of city and community building.

Neil has developed a special interest in geotechnical issues, including slab on grade, subgrade, concrete performance, tunneling, sanitary infrastructure and building in cold weather, including permafrost degradation.

Consumer financial services

Neil is an expert in all aspects of consumer law, primarily from the perspective of lenders. His expertise includes drafting and analyzing cost of credit disclosure, consumer protection, privacy, and credit reporting terms and conditions, primarily in the form of conditional sales contracts, leases, loan agreements and guarantees.

Neil understands the rules and regulations nationally and locally with respect to consumer protection, consumer reporting, vehicle and equipment finance, personal property security and fintech. As a solicitor, Neil's clients include banks, institutional and private lenders, subprime, captive and independent finance companies, lease finance companies, auto finance companies, trade creditors, commercial enterprises, credit card issuers, manufacturers, mortgagees and U.S. lenders, both secured and unsecured.

Neil specializes in Portfolio Overview and Regulatory Compliance (PORC) to provide advice to clients engaged in selling or purchasing or financing a portfolio of loans. Highlights of his PORC practice include meeting with key personnel and onsite vetting of loans for regulatory compliance, reviewing collection procedures, practices and litigation mandates, and preparing reports of findings to be used in any bid tender or financing of a portfolio.

Neil also enforces consumer contracts - from entire portfolios to individual claims from demand through to claim to realization, such as judgment debtor examinations, garnishments and seizures of personal and real property. He also advises on third-party claims, including priority disputes and Canada Revenue Agency claims. Neil has argued over cars, boats, horses, houses, cottages, trailers, buses, crops, office equipment, construction machinery, stocks, fine art, pets, furniture and wine.

Arbitration, mediation, conflict resolution & adjudication

Neil offers his services as an arbitrator, mediator, adjudicator or in a combination of dispute resolution roles - locally, nationally and internationally. He has served as counsel in over 250 formally resolved cases across Canada and abroad, teaches negotiation at law schools, advises on the presentation of expert evidence and is a member of the ADR Institute of Canada (Ontario).

Cases for dispute resolution include, but are not limited to:

  • Construction:
    • Liens, delay claims, extras, materials sold and installed, deficiency claims, contractual disputes, real property valuations for expropriation and professional negligence, bond claims
  • Commercial and consumer:
    • Cost of credit disclosure, product liability, misrepresentations, unfair practices, contractual disputes between customers/lenders/dealers
    • Goods sold and delivered; letters of credit; priority claims and commercial and residential landlord/tenant disputes
  • Valuation:
    • Valuation of art, artifacts, personal papers and other personal property for estate, taxation and donation, including claims related to the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board (CCPERB)

Other expertise

Liens: Neil has extensive experience in dealing with the Repair and Storage Lien Act, common carrier liens, Crown and police liens, solicitor liens, and innkeepers liens.

Commercial law: Neil drafts and litigates commercial contracts and claims, similar to as described above.

Electric vehicles: Neil advises a wide range of electric vehicle manufacturers from the U.S. and China in Canadian regulation, development and investment.

Administrative law: Neil has appeared before the Licence Appeal Tribunal on behalf of Tarion Warranty Corporation under the Ontario New Home Warranty Plan Act; the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC) Discipline Body for complaints under the Ontario Motor Vehicle Dealers Act; the Landlord and Tenant Board under the Residential Tenancies Act; and Hearings of Necessity under theExpropriation Act, as well as on judicial reviews of administrative decisions and appeals to Divisional Court.

Bankruptcy & insolvency: Neil's experience in bankruptcy and insolvency law covers a wide range of activities, including commercial and consumer bankruptcies, reorganizations, receiverships, Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) filings and proposals. He has acted for both secured and unsecured creditors, institutional and private lenders, trustees and receivers, lien claimants and, from time to time, the debtor. Neil provides advice with respect to both pre-bankruptcy and post-bankruptcy asset recovery and/or protection, and conducts cross-examinations, opposes discharges and obtains declarations to commence and continue actions that survive bankruptcy.

Civil fraud: Neil prosecutes fraudulent claims in areas such as forgery, fraudulent conveyance, absconding debtors, misrepresentation of credit, identity theft, mortgage fraud, negotiation of fraudulent instruments, cheque kiting, "pump and dump" and telemarketing scams. He has acted for a number of regulatory bodies, institutional lenders and small businesses. Neil has contacts in the police and Crown, as well as relationships with forensic accountants, receivers and trustees.

International human rights/terrorism: Neil sits on the board of directors for the Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights. He provides pro bono legal advice in respect to prosecuting war criminals in Canada, suing foreign governments for violating the rights of Canadian citizens abroad and enforcing foreign judgments in Canada. Neil has participated in several conferences on cyberterrorism and threats to national security with members of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and defence industry stakeholders.

Valuation claims: Neil will adjudicate valuation claims related to art, artifacts, personal papers and other personal property in estate, taxation and donation claims, including claims related to the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board.

Teaching & presentations

Neil is a frequent presenter at legal and non-legal conferences, conventions, universities, symposiums and private client events. He also contributes widely to scholarly, academic and legal journals, newspapers and other publications. He speaks to students, lawyers, engineers, bankers, construction and industry trade groups.

Neil's presentations have been delivered to audiences across North America on subjects that include doing business in Canada; the law of expert evidence; mediating and litigating construction disputes; understanding the Construction Lien Act; fundamentals of the Personal Property Security Act; the future of the automobile and emerging technologies relative to automotive products; legal drafting; and indemnities and limitation of liability clauses.

Neil is a long-time member and speaker at Canadian Finance & Leasing Association (Canada) and Equipment and Lease Finance Association (U.S.). He has been selected by the Canadian Bar Association to serve as a lecturer in its Skilled Lawyers Series.

Neil has travelled to 48 of 50 U.S. states, 9 of 10 Canadian provinces and over 40 countries. When he is not practising law or travelling, he plays French horn in a chamber orchestra.

Career & Recognition

Client service involves more than just informed advice about the law. It's about knowing where the law is heading and ensuring that the client's reputation is protected.
  • Rankings & Awards
    August 2016
    The Best Lawyers in Canada 2017
  • Rankings & Awards
    June 2016
    Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory 2016
  • Rankings & Awards
    September 2015
    Best Lawyers in Canada (Construction Law)
  • Rankings & Awards
    September 2015
    The Best Lawyers in Canada 2016
  • Rankings & Awards
    September 2014
    The Best Lawyers in Canada 2015
View Full Career & Recognition Timeline

Career & Recognition

Filter timeline:


  • American Bar Association (Consumer Financial Services and Commercial Financial Services Committees)
  • Canadian Bar Association
  • Canadian Finance and Lease Association
  • Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights
  • Chicago Bar Association
  • Commercial Law League of America
  • Credit Association of Greater Toronto
  • National (U.S.) Association of Dealer Counsel
  • Ontario Bar Association - Construction Law Section Executive
  • Toronto Lawyers Association
  • United States National Automotive Finance Association
  • Upper Canada College Association

Neil frequently writes for legal publications and provides legal content for World of Special Finance Canadian Edition, a monthly magazine with a focus on non-prime specialty finance. He is the Canadian National Editor for, the premiere website for automobile finance law in North America. Neil also authored an article for Construction Canada magazine, entitled "Building the proper invoice, "and co-authored an article for Construction Law Letter, entitled "When is holdback no longer holdback?" (September/October 2014, volume 31, number 1). As well, he is often asked to comment on legal developments in the construction industry, and was recently interviewed by Law Times for an article entitled "Release of holdback funds a key issue in lien act review."

Neil is a frequent lecturer and writer in the area of bankruptcy and insolvency and has presented papers on Canadian Bankruptcy Reform; a comparative study of U.S. and Canadian bankruptcy amendments; a concept of deepening insolvency in Canada as well as contributing to the National Creditor/Debtor Review.


Neil is a frequent lecturer at Osgoode Hall Law School and at the engineering departments at the University of Western Ontario, University of Waterloo and Ryerson University. He is an avid speaker and presenter on a number of topics, including "Fundamentals of Construction Lien Litigation," "Liening the Public Project," "Best Practices for Risk Management in Construction," "Enforcing Lien Rights in Ontario," "Liens in Insolvencies," "Fundamentals of Registration under the Personal Property Security Act," "How to use the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act," "Collection Law in Ontario," "The Merits and Tactics of Asset Protection," "Litigation against the PPSA Assurance Fund" and "Shedding Light on Deepening Insolvencies in Canada," which he presented at the Fourth Annual DePaul University Symposium on Commercial Law.

Neil is also a guest speaker at the Institute of Law Clerks of Ontario on "collection remedies." He has chaired a Canadian Institute two-day program on Successful Debt Recovery for Small Businesses and last year, he chaired a Canadian Institute two-day program on construction litigation techniques. Neil is also a speaker at the Ontario Bar Association seminar on "Litigation and Bankruptcy." He is a guest speaker at the Ontario Builder Forum. He has also spoken in China at the invitation of the Canadian Government on the Electric Vehicle Market in Canada and is affiliated with Auto 21, a technology partnership for electric vehicles.

At the 2016 Canadian Geotechnical Society Annual Conference, Neil presented on the subject of "Soil, Toil & Trouble: Engineering and the Law". At the society's 2014 meeting, he delivered a presentation on "Finding common ground: Are ethical and legal obligations the same?"

Previous speaking engagements

Representative Work

Statutory Interpretation

Haliburton (County) v. Gillespie, 2013 ONCA 40 (Court of Appeal)

Neil acted for the County of Haliburton in the prosecution of a violation under the Off Road Vehicles Act. The Court of Appeal upheld the conviction and set the test for statutory interpretation.

Equipment Finance and Vehicle Finance

Neil's notable cases include Re TCT, in which he successfully opposed the application of the costs of a receivership as against a secured creditor and Chrysler Credit v. Fehr, where the Court held that a secured claim extends to insurance proceeds. Neil acts for notable clients who include GE Capital, TD Auto Finance, Nissan Finance, Ferrari Financial Services, Royal Bank of Canada, Tesla Motors Inc. and Volvo.

Construction Law and Other Liens

Neil regularly acts for the Ontario New Home Warranty Program (now Tarion Warranty Corporation) and successfully intervened on their behalf in the Beige Valley/Bridgenorth and Dominion Concrete case, which established that a request to repair by Tarion constitutes a legal obligation.

Basic Drywall Inc. v. 1539304 Ontario Inc., 2012 ONSC 6391 (Divisional Court)

Neil acted for ICICI Bank in successfully limiting the priority of a lien claimant to holdback on funds posted as security by the bank. This Divisional Court decision settled the law on priorities between lenders and lien claimants for bonded off liens.

Bankruptcy and Insolvency

Notable cases include Re Lacrosse in which the rights to certain intellectual property were preserved in a bankruptcy; Re Emms (Ontario Court of Appeal) in which the class action of a bankruptcy petition was upheld by the substitution of a petitioning creditor, post-petition; and, Re Verbughe (Ontario Court of Appeal) in which the Court found that Farm Debt Mediation Act did not extend to guarantors.