Scott Kugler

Scott Kugler is a partner in Gowling WLG's Toronto office and head of the firm’s Canadian National Class Action Defence Group. His practice emphasizes complex commercial matters, including class actions (primarily in the areas of securities, competition law/antitrust, and product liability), shareholder disputes, claims against directors/officers, broker/dealer disputes (civil and regulatory), product liability cases, franchise disputes, dealer/distributor disputes, and multi-faceted corporate litigation often involving the oppression remedy.

Scott has been successful in obtaining excellent outcomes for his clients through litigation, negotiation, mediation, arbitration, or a combination of them depending on the nature of the dispute and the client’s preferences. He is trusted by his clients to provide clear, timely and practical advice. Scott works closely with clients to ensure that they understand the issues as well as the strategy for achieving the best possible outcome in the circumstances.

Scott has considerable courtroom experience, frequently appearing in the Courts of Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and the Federal Court. He has also appeared in proceedings before the Ontario Securities Commission, the Mutual Fund Dealers’ Association, IIROC and the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, and has also appeared in numerous arbitration tribunals. Scott has worked with clients and other counsel in all Canadian provinces, the U.S., Europe, Asia and South America.   

In recognition of his outstanding achievements, Scott was included on Lexpert magazine’s list of Rising Stars: Leading Lawyers under 40 for 2014. He has also been recognized by Lexpert for securities litigation, class actions, corporate commercial litigation and mining litigation, Legal 500 for dispute resolution, Benchmark Canada for class actions, and The Best Lawyers in Canada for corporate commercial litigation and class actions.

Career & Recognition

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Memberships

  • American Bar Association
  • Canadian Bar Association
  • Ontario Bar Association
  • The Advocates' Society

Securities

  • SNC-Lavalin Class Actions: Defending the former CEO of SNC-Lavalin in class actions in Ontario and Quebec.  Investors sued the company and its officers and directors for approximately $1 billion in under secondary market liability legislation.  They allege damages caused by misrepresentations in various SNC-Lavalin public documents.  The action has been certified as a class action, but with a much narrower scope than the plaintiff’s sought in the Statement of Claim.  The defendants were successful in defeating a motion by plaintiffs to amend the Statement of Claim and defeating a motion for leave to appeal from that decision.
  • Colt Resources Class Action – Defending Colt Resources and two of its directors against a shareholder class action alleging that the company failed to make timely disclosure of a material change and subsequently made misrepresentations in its disclosure documents.
  • Share Valuation Dispute – Defending a public company in a valuation dispute with a former C-Suite shareholder regarding the price at which the shareholder was required to sell its shares to the company.
  • Greenstar Class Action –  Defending four former officers and directors of Greenstar against a class action in Ontario alleging misrepresentation in its offering documents relating to its operations in China. The claim has been settled.
  • Convertible Debenture Pricing – Represented a hedge fund in a dispute with the issuer of convertible debentures concerning the conversion price of the debentures. We were entirely successful in obtaining a court order requiring the issuer to pay the conversion price that our client had sought.
  • Investment Advisors – Represented multiple investment advisors and portfolio managers at a leading Canadian financial institution in a regulatory matter involving IIROC. We were entirely successful in concluding the matter without formal proceedings being commenced any of our clients.
  • Shareholder Activism – Represented Land & Buildings Investment Management LLC, a high profile activist investor, in an urgent proceeding at the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) to contest a decision of the Toronto Stock Exchange that would have permitted Hudson’s Bay Company to complete a very complex and dilutive share issuance within the context of a multi-billion dollar transaction. We were entirely successful in the only contested motion argued at the OSC and subsequently negotiated a settlement.
  • M&A Advisory - Advisory work for a leading underwriter with respect to its domestic obligations to clients and third parties for the purposes of an international arbitration.
  • Penn West Class ActionsDefended Penn West Petroleum and a number of current and former directors and officers of the company against multiple shareholder class actions in Canada. A parallel class action was commenced in the United States. Shareholders claimed to have suffered damages as a result of a drop in the stock price that occurred after the company announced, among other things, that it would be restating some of its financial statements. The claim has been settled.
  • Poseidon Class Actions: Defended Poseidon and its directors and officers against class actions and multiple other actions in which shareholders assert both primary and secondary market claims arising  from the company’s announcement that approximately $100 million in revenue was improperly recognized.  Class actions were commenced in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and New York. The Poseidon litigation also involved CCAA proceedings and regulatory proceedings. The claim has been settled.
  • Barkerville Class Action – Defended Barkerville and two of its former directors and officers against a securities class action relating to alleged misrepresentations concerning geological reports issues in regard to the company’s mining properties. The claim has been settled.
  • Armtec Class Actions – Defended a publicly traded infrastructure company and its directors and officers in class actions commenced in Ontario and Quebec by primary and secondary market investors for approximately $100 million.  The plaintiffs alleged that the prospectus and certain public statements contained misrepresentations about the sustainability of the company’s dividend.  The claim has been settled.
  • Atlas Cold Storage Class Action – Defended the CFO of a publicly traded income trust in a class action commenced in Ontario by primary and secondary market investors for approximately $343 million.  The plaintiffs alleged that the prospectus, as well as various financial statements and press releases, contained misrepresentations about the finances of the income trust.  The claim has been settled.
  • Portus Class Action – Defended four investment dealers in class actions commenced by investors for an unspecified amount that was expected to be close to $100 million.  The plaintiffs alleged that the Portus hedge fund was a sham and that the investment dealers were complicit in the furtherance of the sham.  The defendants were successful in striking out most of the claim on a preliminary motion, following which a settlement was reached.
  • YBM Magnex Class Action – Defended the former auditor of YBM Magnex in two class actions commenced by primary and secondary market investors for approximately $360 million.  The plaintiffs alleged that YBM Magnex was used to carry out a multi‑layered conspiracy and fraud for several purposes including obtaining improper gains by financial statement misrepresentation and manipulation. The actions were settled by all defendants prior to certification.
  • Disclosure / Insider Trading – Represented a publicly traded company in a regulatory investigation in which the OSC alleged that the company’s disclosure was deficient and that some of its key executives traded while in possession of material undisclosed information.  Ultimately, proceedings were not commenced.
  • Insider Trading – Represented the President of a public company in proceedings commenced by the OSC in which it was alleged that he had traded while in possession of material undisclosed information.  A settlement was approved by the OSC in a decision that is widely cited as setting out the applicable principles for a settlement approval hearing.
  • Broker Negligence – Represented a broker at an established securities dealer in regulatory proceedings relating to allegations that the broker had failed to properly advise certain clients and had entered into private dealings with those clients.  The proceedings were settled.
  • Dealer Liability – Represented a securities dealer in multiple civil proceedings by investors who lost considerable sums of money as a result of investing in an unapproved product that was brought to their attention by some of the dealer’s representatives.  These actions were settled.
  • Advisor Compliance – Represented many investment advisors and mutual fund dealers in regulatory investigations.

Competition / Anti-Trust

  • “Capacity” Class Actions – Representing a U.S. airline in class actions commenced in multiple jurisdictions in Canada in which plaintiffs allege that the defendant airlines conspired to limit the increase in capacity in the airline industry in order to drive higher prices and higher margins.
  • “Fuel Surcharge” Class Actions – Representing a U.S. airline in class actions commenced in Ontario on behalf of all persons who purchased a ticket for trans-Atlantic or trans-Pacific air travel.  The plaintiffs allege that the defendants participated in a worldwide price-fixing conspiracy in relation to fuel surcharges that were applied to airline tickets.  The plaintiffs have claimed approximately $200 million in damages.
  • “Drywall” Class Actions – Defending a leading US drywall manufacturer against class actions in Ontario and Quebec relating to an alleged conspiracy to increase the price of drywall throughout North America.
  • “Resistors” Class Actions – Defending a Japanese based resistor manufacturer against a class action in Ontario relating to an alleged conspiracy to increase the price of resistors throughout the world.
  • “LCD” Class Actions – Represented a Taiwanese manufacturer of LCDs in class actions commenced in Ontario and B.C. on behalf of direct and indirect purchasers of LCDs.  The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants participated in a worldwide price-fixing conspiracy in relation to LCDs. The plaintiffs claimed approximately $150 million in damages.  The action has been settled.
  • “Consumer Product Engines” Class Actions – Represented an international manufacturer and distributor of consumer product engines in class actions commenced in Ontario and Quebec on behalf of all persons who purchased engines or products containing the engines.  The plaintiffs allege that the manufacturer falsely advertised the attributes of the engines. 
  • “SRAM” Class Actions – Represented a U.S. manufacturer of SRAM in class actions commenced in Ontario, Quebec and B.C. on behalf of direct and indirect purchasers of SRAM.  Plaintiffs alleged that the defendants participated in a worldwide price-fixing conspiracy in relation to SRAM and claimed approximately $400 million in damages.  In advance of the certification motion, the plaintiffs brought a motion for production by the defendants of unredacted materials in their possession from the parallel U.S. proceeding.  The defendants successfully resisted this motion, as well as a similar motion in the U.S. The action has been settled.
  • “Automotive Cross Border Pricing Disparity” Class Actions – Represented a leading automobile manufacturer in a class action commenced in Ontario on behalf of all persons who purchased automobiles in Canada at prices higher than were available in the US.  We were entirely successful in negotiating a dismissal of the action against our client.
  • Industry Associations – Provided advice to various industry associations regarding best practices and regarding specific issues that arise in the course of the association’s affairs.

Shareholder / Partnership Disputes

  • Real Estate Company – Defending multiple shareholders of a leading real estate and development company in a shareholder dispute involving the oppression remedy.
  • Tier 1 Automotive Supplier – Representing a shareholder of a Tier 1 automotive supplier in an action involving claims of wrongful dismissal and oppression.
  • Private Health Care Company – Represented a key shareholder of a private health care company in a dispute with its other key shareholder over the management and control of the company. The dispute was resolved prior to court proceedings being commenced.
  • Private Health Care Company – Represented shareholders of a closely-held private health care company in a dispute with other shareholders who had joined the company as a result of a merger.  The unanimous shareholders’ agreement did not contain a buy-sell provision or other contractual mechanism that would allow for the resolution of the shareholder dispute, but we obtained a court order forcing the other shareholders to sell their shares to our clients.  The terms of sale were resolved out of court.   
  • Building Supply Company – Defended one of the partners of a partnership in a dispute with its former partner regarding the validity of a buy-sell offer and the conduct of the partners in relation to the buy-sell offer.  The former partner applied to the court for an injunction to block the buy-sell offer from closing but we successfully resisted that motion and the transaction was completed. 

Corporate Commercial Disputes

  • M&A Dispute – Defending a company and its principals against a claim brought by the purchasers of the defendant company’s pharmacy business. The purchasers claim that certain representations were false and that certain covenants were not fulfilled.
  • Employment Class Action – Representing a leading technology company facing a class action by couriers who claim to be employees rather than independent contractors.
  • Renewable Energy – Defending a renewable energy company and its directors against a claim by a minority shareholder claiming oppression by the majority shareholder and by the directors and breach of an unsigned “agreement”.
  • Condominiums – Defending a condominium corporation and its directors against a claim by multiple large tenants in respect of a dispute over the parking arrangements at the location and over the tenant’s desire to erect a pylon site.
  • Employment – Defended a prominent sports club against a claim brought by a member who was challenging the club’s decision to suspend his membership for breach of the club’s rules.

Franchise Disputes

  • Disclosure – Defended multiple claims against franchisors against the of franchisees and former franchisees relating to alleged misrepresentations and deficiencies in the disclosure documents.
  • Disclosure – Represented the first franchisee in a newly established franchise business in a rescission claim against the franchisor relating to alleged deficiencies in the disclosure document.  A settlement was achieved.
  • Disclosure / Misrepresentations – Defended an individual who is alleged to be a franchisor’s associate in a claim by a franchisee relating to alleged deficiencies in the disclosure document as well as alleged misrepresentations made prior to entering into the franchise agreement. A settlement was achieved.
  • Real Estate – Represented a franchisor in a dispute with a former franchisee concerning land control over the former franchise location.  The court enforced our client’s rights under a land control agreement with the former franchisee and awarded our client control over the property.  The decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal.

Administrative Law

  • Judicial Review - Represented the manufacturer of Chobani Greek yogurt in a high profile dispute regarding a test marketing permit that had been issued by the Minister of International Trade that allowed limited quantities of Chobani to be imported into Canada duty-free. The applicants contended that the import permit was unreasonable because the imports threatened Canada's supply management system and argued to have the import permit struck down. The court dismissed the applications and ruled that the applicants all lacked standing.