Usman M. Sheikh
Usman Sheikh is a litigation partner in Gowling WLG's Toronto office. He is the National Head of the firm's Blockchain & Smart Contract Group, as well as the National Litigation Lead of the firm's Securities, Compliance & Investigations Group.
Usman's practice focuses on complex corporate/commercial litigation, with an emphasis on securities litigation, crypto-currency litigation, professional liability claims and class proceedings. He is also a thought leader on blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT), including its application to the capital markets, and is currently authoring an upcoming legal guidebook titled The Law of Blockchain Technology (Thomson Reuters 2018).
His litigation expertise includes:
- Securities enforcement proceedings
- Shareholder activism
- Corporate governance issues
- Corporate transaction and M&A disputes
- Cross-border litigation
- Corruption claims
- Compliance matters
- Securities class actions
- Accounting & auditing matters
- Crisis management & internal investigations
- Market conduct/trading disputes
- White collar defence (criminal & quasi-criminal)
- Shareholder disputes & oppression remedy claims
- Crypto-currency litigation (Bitcoin, Ether and other crypto-currencies)
Usman has served as counsel on several precedent-setting securities and commercial cases in Canada, including cases before the Supreme Court of Canada. He has appeared before all levels of court in Ontario, Alberta and Nova Scotia, as well as before a wide variety of administrative tribunals, including the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC), the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC), the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (HPARB), and the University of Toronto Governing Council.
Prior to joining Gowling WLG, Usman spent four years as a prosecutor in the OSC's Enforcement Branch, including within the specialist Insider Trading/Market Manipulation Unit. In this role, he investigated and prosecuted all forms of securities law violations, including the largest criminal case of insider trading in Canadian history, as well as a recent regulatory case of insider trading for which the highest sanctions in Canada were ordered.
Usman was recently appointed as the inaugural co-chair of the American Bar Association's Securities Litigation Sub-Committee for Canada. In April 2016, the ABA Section of Litigation honoured Usman with the 2016 Outstanding Subcommittee Chair Award, making him first ever Canadian recipient of this award. He formerly served as co-chair of The Advocates' Society's Securities Litigation Practice Group, one of the largest collectives of securities litigators in Canada.
Author of over 25 legal and academic publications, Usman is also a frequent lecturer at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Law, Osgoode Hall Law School and the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University. In addition, he is a regular speaker at various continuing legal education seminars and conferences. In 2016, Usman was recognized by Benchmark Canada’s Definitive Guide to Canada’s Leading Litigation Firms & Attorneys as a “Future Star” in litigation.
Usman has completed the Canadian Securities Course (CSC) and the Trader Training Course (TTC). He delivers legal services in both English and French.
Usman currently serves as the national president of the Canadian Friends of the LSE (CFLSE), the national alumni association for the London School of Economics and Political Science in Canada.
He also co-founded the Ontario Securities Commission Litigation Assistance Program (LAP), a pro bono program — the first of its kind in North America — that provides free legal advice to unrepresented respondents appearing in OSC enforcement proceedings.
Usman has also served as a director of several non-profit organizations, including the London Goodenough Association of Canada (LGAC).