Neil S. Abbott

Neil Abbott is a Certified Specialist in Construction Law and consistently ranked in both Lexpert and Best Lawyers in Canada for Consumer Financial Services and Infrastructure/Construction Law. He is a solicitor, litigator, mediator, arbitrator, adjudicator and lecturer. He advises national and international clients in doing business in Canada.  Neil also leads the firm’s India practice.

Construction and infrastructure law

Neil is a full-service construction and infrastructure lawyer recognized by his peers in Lexpert and Best Lawyers in Canada. Neil has also been designated as a Certified Specialist in Construction Law by the Law Society of Ontario. 

Neil is a practical lawyer and problem solver.  He has argued in the Appeal and Superior Courts of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nunavut, Ontario and in the Supreme Court of Canada.  He has considerable experience before administrative tribunals such as LPAT, Committee of Adjustments, the UBAS (Saskatchewan), Licence Appeal Tribunal Ontario, Landlord and Tenant Board and Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

Neil is a trained adjudicator with the Ontario Dispute Adjudication for Construction Contract (ODACC) and serves as an arbitrator and mediator, both as chair and counsel.

Neil is an expert in prompt payment and adjudication as well as all aspects of the Construction Act and is frequently consulted by colleagues nationally and internationally in construction and infrastructure cases.

Neil founded the firm’s Construction and Engineering practice and leads the Municipal, University, School and Hospital (“MUSH”) practice.

Neil has a particular interest in geotechnical cases, concrete structures, capital improvement, maintenance contracts and wind and solar projects.

Neil drafts and negotiates all forms of construction, architectural and infrastructure contracts, including P3s, CCA, IAI and CCDC forms as well as Construction Services and Project Management Agreements.

Neil acts on construction matters related to insolvencies and receiverships. He also frequently acts for bonding companies. 

Neil has long served as primary outside counsel to the Ontario New Home Warranty Program and to many municipalities, colleges and universities.

Neil served on the Ontario Bar Association Construction Law sub-committee in two separate decades.

Consumer financial services

Neil is an expert in all aspects of consumer law, primarily from the perspective of lenders.  His expertise includes regulatory compliance, 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 300 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.

Cool Stuff

Neil has visited and/or worked in all 10 Canadian Provinces and 49 of the 50 US States, as well as travelled to over 60 countries.  Neil plays the French horn in a chamber group.  Neil has served as a student mentor to the Law Society of Ontario for over 18 years and served on the Board of Directors for Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights.

Neil devotes 10 per cent of his practice to pro-bono work each year.

Associations professionnelles

  • The ADR Institute (Ontario)
  • American Bar Association (Consumer Financial Services and Commercial Financial Services Committees)
  • Canadian Association of University Solicitors
  • 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
  • Equipment Leasing and Finance Association
  • National (U.S.) Association of Dealer Counsel
  • National Auto Finance Association
  • 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 CARLAW.net, 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.

Presentations

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?"

Conférences antérieures

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.

Mandats clients