James H. Smellie

Jim Smellie is a senior partner in Gowling WLG's Calgary office. He is routinely recognized as one of Canada's leading energy lawyers by Chambers, Best Lawyers in Canada, Legal 500 and Lexpert.

Harnessing his formidable background in advocacy and administrative law, Jim focuses his practice chiefly on a broad range of energy regulatory matters.

Oil & Gas

In the oil and gas industry, Jim has an accomplished track record of representing a variety of sector participants - including natural gas producers, transmission pipelines, distributors, governments, petrochemical interests, marketers and shippers - in complex matters before the Commission of the Canadian Energy Regulator/National Energy Board, the Alberta Utilities Commission and other provincial regulatory tribunals. His work in this space includes facility applications, toll and tariff issues, and export/import authorizations, both in the normal course of business and on major project-specific briefs.

Over the course of his career, Jim has played an instrumental role in a number of proposed oil and gas infrastructure projects. These include the Sable Offshore Energy/Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline Projects, the Alaska Pipeline, the Mackenzie Gas Project, and the Energy East Project.


With respect to electricity matters, Jim's experience as regulatory counsel includes extensive work on behalf of Alberta's Independent System Operator, as well as other market participants. His practice extends to advising clients with open-access and other market-related matters, cost of capital and other tariff issues, greenfield and thermal plant expansions, export authorizations and numerous transmission system expansions and enhancements.

Among his major achievements in this area, Jim recently acted as counsel to Emera Newfoundland and Labrador in securing regulatory approval from the Nova Scotia Utility & Review Board for the Maritime Link component of the Lower Churchill Hydroelectric Project.


Jim's litigation experience includes numerous commercial arbitrations (both as an arbitrator and as counsel) and appearances before provincial superior and appellate courts, the Federal Court, Federal Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada.

Outside of his regular practice, Jim previously served for more than 15 years as a senior public law instructor at the Bar Admission Course of the Law Society of Ontario in Ottawa. He also acts as pro bono counsel to high-performance Canadian amateur athletes in diverse disciplines on negotiations, arbitrations and other dispute resolution on a variety of matters - including national, International, Olympic and Paralympic team selection, discipline and complaints, Sport Canada's Athlete Assistance Program, and related issues.

Jim has written and spoken on various administrative and public law topics.

  • Speaker, IRC Indigenous Participation in Major Projects Conference, Calgary, AB, Feb. 26-27. (introduced Christie Clark, former premier of British Columbia).