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Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act

. DEL Equipment Inc. (Re)

In DEL Equipment Inc. (Re) (Ont CA, 2020) the Court of Appeal set out the test for leave the appeal to the Court of Appeal under ss.13-14 of the CCAA:
[12] This court will only sparingly grant leave to appeal in the context of a CCAA proceeding. Leave will be granted only where there are “serious and arguable grounds that are of real and significant interest to the parties”, determined by considering whether: (i) the proposed appeal is prima facie meritorious or frivolous; (ii) the issue on the proposed appeal is of significance to the practice; (iii) the issue on the proposed appeal is of significance to the proceeding; and (iv) the proposed appeal will unduly hinder the progress of the proceeding: Stelco Inc., (Re) (2005), 2005 CanLII 8671 (ON CA), 75 O.R. (3d) 5 (C.A.), at para. 24.
. Québec inc. v. Callidus Capital Corp.

In Québec inc. v. Callidus Capital Corp. (SCC, 2020) the Supreme Court of Canada set out a useful overview of the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act in the context of it's role in Canada's insolvency system:
(1) The Evolving Nature of CCAA Proceedings

[39] The CCAA is one of three principal insolvency statutes in Canada. The others are the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. B-3 (“BIA”), which covers insolvencies of both individuals and companies, and the Winding-up and Restructuring Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. W-11 (“WURA”), which covers insolvencies of financial institutions and certain other corporations, such as insurance companies (WURA, s. 6(1)). While both the CCAA and the BIA enable reorganizations of insolvent companies, access to the CCAA is restricted to debtor companies facing total claims in excess of $5 million (CCAA, s. 3(1)).

[40] Together, Canada’s insolvency statutes pursue an array of overarching remedial objectives that reflect the wide ranging and potentially “catastrophic” impacts insolvency can have (Sun Indalex Finance, LLC v. United Steelworkers, 2013 SCC 6, [2013] 1 S.C.R. 271, at para. 1). These objectives include: providing for timely, efficient and impartial resolution of a debtor’s insolvency; preserving and maximizing the value of a debtor’s assets; ensuring fair and equitable treatment of the claims against a debtor; protecting the public interest; and, in the context of a commercial insolvency, balancing the costs and benefits of restructuring or liquidating the company (J. P. Sarra, “The Oscillating Pendulum: Canada’s Sesquicentennial and Finding the Equilibrium for Insolvency Law”, in J. P. Sarra and B. Romaine, eds., Annual Review of Insolvency Law 2016 (2017), 9, at pp. 9-10; J. P. Sarra, Rescue! The Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act 2nd ed. (2013), at pp. 4-5 and 14; Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, Debtors and Creditors Sharing the Burden: A Review of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (2003), at pp. 9-10; R. J. Wood, Bankruptcy and Insolvency Law (2nd ed. 2015), at pp. 4-5).

[41] Among these objectives, the CCAA generally prioritizes “avoiding the social and economic losses resulting from liquidation of an insolvent company” (Century Services, at para. 70). As a result, the typical CCAA case has historically involved an attempt to facilitate the reorganization and survival of the pre-filing debtor company in an operational state — that is, as a going concern. Where such a reorganization was not possible, the alternative course of action was seen as a liquidation through either a receivership or under the BIA regime. This is precisely the outcome that was sought in Century Services (see para. 14).

[42] That said, the CCAA is fundamentally insolvency legislation, and thus it also “has the simultaneous objectives of maximizing creditor recovery, preservation of going-concern value where possible, preservation of jobs and communities affected by the firm’s financial distress . . . and enhancement of the credit system generally” (Sarra, Rescue! The Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, at p. 14; see also Ernst & Young Inc. v. Essar Global Fund Ltd., 2017 ONCA 1014, 139 O.R. (3d) 1, at para. 103). In pursuit of those objectives, CCAA proceedings have evolved to permit outcomes that do not result in the emergence of the pre-filing debtor company in a restructured state, but rather involve some form of liquidation of the debtor’s assets under the auspices of the Act itself (Sarra, “The Oscillating Pendulum: Canada’s Sesquicentennial and Finding the Equilibrium for Insolvency Law”, at pp. 19-21). Such scenarios are referred to as “liquidating CCAAs”, and they are now commonplace in the CCAA landscape (see Third Eye Capital Corporation v. Ressources Dianor Inc./Dianor Resources Inc., 2019 ONCA 508, 435 D.L.R. (4th) 416, at para. 70).

[43] Liquidating CCAAs take diverse forms and may involve, among other things: the sale of the debtor company as a going concern; an “en bloc” sale of assets that are capable of being operationalized by a buyer; a partial liquidation or downsizing of business operations; or a piecemeal sale of assets (B. Kaplan, “Liquidating CCAAs: Discretion Gone Awry?”, in J. P. Sarra, ed., Annual Review of Insolvency Law (2008), 79, at pp. 87-89). The ultimate commercial outcomes facilitated by liquidating CCAAs are similarly diverse. Some may result in the continued operation of the business of the debtor under a different going concern entity (e.g., the liquidations in Indalex and Re Canadian Red Cross Society (1998), 1998 CanLII 14907 (ON SC), 5 C.B.R. (4th) 299 (Ont. C.J. (Gen. Div.)), while others may result in a sale of assets and inventory with no such entity emerging (e.g., the proceedings in Re Target Canada Co., 2015 ONSC 303, 22 C.B.R. (6th) 323, at paras. 7 and 31). Others still, like the case at bar, may involve a going concern sale of most of the assets of the debtor, leaving residual assets to be dealt with by the debtor and its stakeholders.

[44] CCAA courts first began approving these forms of liquidation pursuant to the broad discretion conferred by the Act. The emergence of this practice was not without criticism, largely on the basis that it appeared to be inconsistent with the CCAA being a “restructuring statute” (see, e.g., Uti Energy Corp. v. Fracmaster Ltd., 1999 ABCA 178, 244 A.R. 93, at paras. 15-16, aff’g 1999 ABQB 379, 11 C.B.R. (4th) 204, at paras. 40-43; A. Nocilla, “The History of the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act and the Future of Re-Structuring Law in Canada” (2014), 56 Can. Bus. L.J. 73, at pp. 88-92).

[45] However, since s. 36 of the CCAA came into force in 2009, courts have been using it to effect liquidating CCAAs. Section 36 empowers courts to authorize the sale or disposition of a debtor company’s assets outside the ordinary course of business.[3] Significantly, when the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce recommended the adoption of s. 36, it observed that liquidation is not necessarily inconsistent with the remedial objectives of the CCAA, and that it may be a means to “raise capital [to facilitate a restructuring], eliminate further loss for creditors or focus on the solvent operations of the business” (p. 147). Other commentators have observed that liquidation can be a “vehicle to restructure a business” by allowing the business to survive, albeit under a different corporate form or ownership (Sarra, Rescue! The Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, at p. 169; see also K. P. McElcheran, Commercial Insolvency in Canada (4th ed. 2019), at p. 311). Indeed, in Indalex, the company sold its assets under the CCAA in order to preserve the jobs of its employees, despite being unable to survive as their employer (see para. 51).

[46] Ultimately, the relative weight that the different objectives of the CCAA take on in a particular case may vary based on the factual circumstances, the stage of the proceedings, or the proposed solutions that are presented to the court for approval. Here, a parallel may be drawn with the BIA context. In Orphan Well Association v. Grant Thornton Ltd., 2019 SCC 5, [2019] 1 S.C.R. 150, at para. 67, this Court explained that, as a general matter, the BIA serves two purposes: (1) the bankrupt’s financial rehabilitation and (2) the equitable distribution of the bankrupt’s assets among creditors. However, in circumstances where a debtor corporation will never emerge from bankruptcy, only the latter purpose is relevant (see para. 67). Similarly, under the CCAA, when a reorganization of the pre-filing debtor company is not a possibility, a liquidation that preserves going-concern value and the ongoing business operations of the pre-filing company may become the predominant remedial focus. Moreover, where a reorganization or liquidation is complete and the court is dealing with residual assets, the objective of maximizing creditor recovery from those assets may take centre stage. As we will explain, the architecture of the CCAA leaves the case-specific assessment and balancing of these remedial objectives to the supervising judge.

(2) The Role of a Supervising Judge in CCAA Proceedings

[47] One of the principal means through which the CCAA achieves its objectives is by carving out a unique supervisory role for judges (see Sarra, Rescue! The Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, at pp. 18-19). From beginning to end, each CCAA proceeding is overseen by a single supervising judge. The supervising judge acquires extensive knowledge and insight into the stakeholder dynamics and the business realities of the proceedings from their ongoing dealings with the parties.

[48] The CCAA capitalizes on this positional advantage by supplying supervising judges with broad discretion to make a variety of orders that respond to the circumstances of each case and “meet contemporary business and social needs” (Century Services, at para. 58) in “real-time” (para. 58, citing R. B. Jones, “The Evolution of Canadian Restructuring: Challenges for the Rule of Law”, in J. P. Sarra, ed., Annual Review of Insolvency Law 2005 (2006), 481, at p. 484). The anchor of this discretionary authority is s. 11, which empowers a judge “to make any order that [the judge] considers appropriate in the circumstances”. This section has been described as “the engine” driving the statutory scheme (Stelco Inc. (Re) (2005), 2005 CanLII 8671 (ON CA), 253 D.L.R. (4th) 109 (Ont. C.A.), at para. 36).

[49] The discretionary authority conferred by the CCAA, while broad in nature, is not boundless. This authority must be exercised in furtherance of the remedial objectives of the CCAA, which we have explained above (see Century Services, at para. 59). Additionally, the court must keep in mind three “baseline considerations” (at para. 70), which the applicant bears the burden of demonstrating: (1) that the order sought is appropriate in the circumstances, and (2) that the applicant has been acting in good faith and (3) with due diligence (para. 69).

[50] The first two considerations of appropriateness and good faith are widely understood in the CCAA context. Appropriateness “is assessed by inquiring whether the order sought advances the policy objectives underlying the CCAA” (para. 70). Further, the well-established requirement that parties must act in good faith in insolvency proceedings has recently been made express in s. 18.6 of the CCAA, which provides:
Good faith

18.6 (1) Any interested person in any proceedings under this Act shall act in good faith with respect to those proceedings.

Good faith — powers of court

(2) If the court is satisfied that an interested person fails to act in good faith, on application by an interested person, the court may make any order that it considers appropriate in the circumstances.

(See also BIA, s. 4.2; Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1, S.C. 2019, c. 29, ss. 133 and 140.)
[51] The third consideration of due diligence requires some elaboration. Consistent with the CCAA regime generally, the due diligence consideration discourages parties from sitting on their rights and ensures that creditors do not strategically manoeuver or position themselves to gain an advantage (Lehndorff General Partner Ltd., Re (1993), 17 C.B.R. (3d) 24 (Ont. C.J. (Gen. Div.)), at p. 31). The procedures set out in the CCAA rely on negotiations and compromise between the debtor and its stakeholders, as overseen by the supervising judge and the monitor. This necessarily requires that, to the extent possible, those involved in the proceedings be on equal footing and have a clear understanding of their respective rights (see McElcheran, at p. 262). A party’s failure to participate in CCAA proceedings in a diligent and timely fashion can undermine these procedures and, more generally, the effective functioning of the CCAA regime (see, e.g., North American Tungsten Corp. v. Global Tungsten and Powders Corp., 2015 BCCA 390, 377 B.C.A.C. 6, at paras. 21-23; Re BA Energy Inc., 2010 ABQB 507, 70 C.B.R. (5th) 24; HSBC Bank Canada v. Bear Mountain Master Partnership, 2010 BCSC 1563, 72 C.B.R. (5th) 276, at para. 11; Caterpillar Financial Services Ltd. v. 360networks Corp., 2007 BCCA 14, 279 D.L.R. (4th) 701, at paras. 51-52, in which the courts seized on a party’s failure to act diligently).

[52] We pause to note that supervising judges are assisted in their oversight role by a court appointed monitor whose qualifications and duties are set out in the CCAA (see ss. 11.7, 11.8 and 23 to 25). The monitor is an independent and impartial expert, acting as “the eyes and the ears of the court” throughout the proceedings (Essar, at para. 109). The core of the monitor’s role includes providing an advisory opinion to the court as to the fairness of any proposed plan of arrangement and on orders sought by parties, including the sale of assets and requests for interim financing (see CCAA, s. 23(1)(d) and (i); Sarra, Rescue! The Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, at pp- 566 and 569).
. Québec inc. v. Callidus Capital Corp.

In Québec inc. v. Callidus Capital Corp. (SCC, 2020) the Supreme Court of Canada reviewed the role of creditors under the Companies' Creditor Arrangement Act:
[56] A creditor can generally vote on a plan of arrangement or compromise that affects its rights, subject to any specific provisions of the CCAA that may restrict its voting rights (e.g., s. 22(3)), or a proper exercise of discretion by the supervising judge to constrain or bar the creditor’s right to vote. We conclude that one such constraint arises from s. 11 of the CCAA, which provides supervising judges with the discretion to bar a creditor from voting where the creditor is acting for an improper purpose. Supervising judges are best-placed to determine whether this discretion should be exercised in a particular case. In our view, the supervising judge here made no error in exercising his discretion to bar Callidus from voting on the New Plan.

(1) Parameters of Creditors’ Right to Vote on Plans of Arrangement

[57] Creditor approval of any plan of arrangement or compromise is a key feature of the CCAA, as is the supervising judge’s oversight of that process. Where a plan is proposed, an application may be made to the supervising judge to order a creditors’ meeting to vote on the proposed plan (CCAA, ss. 4 and 5). The supervising judge has the discretion to determine whether to order the meeting. For the purposes of voting at a creditors’ meeting, the debtor company may divide the creditors into classes, subject to court approval (CCAA, s. 22(1)). Creditors may be included in the same class if “their interests or rights are sufficiently similar to give them a commonality of interest” (CCAA, s. 22(2); see also L. W. Houlden, G. B. Morawetz and J. P. Sarra, Bankruptcy and Insolvency Law of Canada (4th ed. (loose-leaf)), vol. 4, at N§149). If the requisite “double majority” in each class of creditors — again, a majority in number of class members, which also represents two-thirds in value of the class members’ claims — vote in favour of the plan, the supervising judge may sanction the plan (Metcalfe & Mansfield Alternative Investments II Corp. (Re), 2008 ONCA 587, 296 D.L.R. (4th) 135, at para. 34; see CCAA, s. 6). The supervising judge will conduct what is commonly referred to as a “fairness hearing” to determine, among other things, whether the plan is fair and reasonable (Wood, at pp. 490-92; see also Sarra, Rescue! The Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, at p. 529; Houlden, Morawetz and Sarra at N§45). Once sanctioned by the supervising judge, the plan is binding on each class of creditors that participated in the vote (CCAA, s. 6(1)).

[58] Creditors with a provable claim against the debtor whose interests are affected by a proposed plan are usually entitled to vote on plans of arrangement (Wood, at p. 470). Indeed, there is no express provision in the CCAA barring such a creditor from voting on a plan of arrangement, including a plan it sponsors.


[61] While the appellants are correct that s. 22(3) was enacted to harmonize the treatment of related parties in the CCAA and BIA, its history demonstrates that it is not a general conflict of interest provision. Prior to the amendments incorporating s. 22(3) into the CCAA, the CCAA clearly allowed creditors to put forward a plan of arrangement (see Houlden, Morawetz and Sarra, at N§33, Red Cross; Re 1078385 Ontario Inc. (2004), 2004 CanLII 55041 (ON CA), 206 O.A.C. 17). In contrast, under the BIA, only debtors could make proposals. Parliament is presumed to have been aware of this obvious difference between the two statutes (see ATCO Gas and Pipelines Ltd. v. Alberta (Energy and Utilities Board), 2006 SCC 4, [2006] 1 S.C.R. 140, at para. 59; see also Third Eye, at para. 57). Despite this difference, Parliament imported, with necessary modification, the wording of the BIA related creditor provision into the CCAA. Going beyond this language entails accepting that Parliament failed to choose the right words to give effect to its intention, which we do not.

[62] Indeed, Parliament did not mindlessly reproduce s. 54(3) of the BIA in s. 22(3) of the CCAA. Rather, it made two modifications to the language of s. 54(3) to bring it into conformity with the language of the CCAA. First, it changed “proposal” (a defined term in the BIA) to “compromise or arrangement” (a term used throughout the CCAA). Second, it changed “debtor” to “company”, recognizing that companies are the only kind of debtor that exists in the CCAA context.

[63] Our view is further supported by Industry Canada’s explanation of the rationale for s. 22(3) as being to “reduce the ability of debtor companies to organize a restructuring plan that confers additional benefits to related parties” (Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada, Bill C-12: Clause by Clause Analysis, developed by Industry Canada, last updated March 24, 2015 (online), cl. 71, s. 22 (emphasis added); see also Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, at p. 151).

[64] Finally, we note that the CCAA contains other mechanisms that attenuate the concern that a creditor with conflicting legal interests with respect to a plan it proposes may distort the creditors’ vote. Although we reject the appellants’ interpretation of s. 22(3), that section still bars creditors who are related to the debtor company from voting in favour of any plan. Additionally, creditors who do not share a sufficient commonality of interest may be forced to vote in separate classes (s. 22(1) and (2)), and, as we will explain, a supervising judge may bar a creditor from voting where the creditor is acting for an improper purpose.

(2) Discretion to Bar a Creditor From Voting in Furtherance of an Improper Purpose

[65] There is no dispute that the CCAA is silent on when a creditor who is otherwise entitled to vote on a plan can be barred from voting. However, CCAA supervising judges are often called upon “to sanction measures for which there is no explicit authority in the CCAA” (Century Services, at para. 61; see also para. 62). In Century Services, this Court endorsed a “hierarchical” approach to determining whether jurisdiction exists to sanction a proposed measure: “courts [must] rely first on an interpretation of the provisions of the CCAA text before turning to inherent or equitable jurisdiction to anchor measures taken in a CCAA proceeding” (para. 65). In most circumstances, a purposive and liberal interpretation of the provisions of the CCAA will be sufficient “to ground measures necessary to achieve its objectives” (para. 65).

[66] Applying this approach, we conclude that jurisdiction exists under s. 11 of the CCAA to bar a creditor from voting on a plan of arrangement or compromise where the creditor is acting for an improper purpose.

[67] Courts have long recognized that s. 11 of the CCAA signals legislative endorsement of the “broad reading of CCAA authority developed by the jurisprudence” (Century Services, at para. 68). Section 11 states:
General power of court

11 Despite anything in the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act or the Winding-up and Restructuring Act, if an application is made under this Act in respect of a debtor company, the court, on the application of any person interested in the matter, may, subject to the restrictions set out in this Act, on notice to any other person or without notice as it may see fit, make any order that it considers appropriate in the circumstances.
On the plain wording of the provision, the jurisdiction granted by s. 11 is constrained only by restrictions set out in the CCAA itself, and the requirement that the order made be “appropriate in the circumstances”.

[68] Where a party seeks an order relating to a matter that falls within the supervising judge’s purview, and for which there is no CCAA provision conferring more specific jurisdiction, s. 11 necessarily is the provision of first resort in anchoring jurisdiction. As Blair J.A. put it in Stelco, s. 11 “for the most part supplants the need to resort to inherent jurisdiction” in the CCAA context (para. 36).

[69] Oversight of the plan negotiation, voting, and approval process falls squarely within the supervising judge’s purview. As indicated, there are no specific provisions in the CCAA which govern when a creditor who is otherwise eligible to vote on a plan may nonetheless be barred from voting. Nor is there any provision in the CCAA which suggests that a creditor has an absolute right to vote on a plan that cannot be displaced by a proper exercise of judicial discretion. However, given that the CCAA regime contemplates creditor participation in decision-making as an integral facet of the workout regime, creditors should only be barred from voting where the circumstances demand such an outcome. In other words, it is necessarily a discretionary, circumstance-specific inquiry.

[70] Thus, it is apparent that s. 11 serves as the source of the supervising judge’s jurisdiction to issue a discretionary order barring a creditor from voting on a plan of arrangement. The exercise of this discretion must further the remedial objectives of the CCAA and be guided by the baseline considerations of appropriateness, good faith, and due diligence. This means that, where a creditor is seeking to exercise its voting rights in a manner that frustrates, undermines, or runs counter to those objectives — that is, acting for an “improper purpose” — the supervising judge has the discretion to bar that creditor from voting.

[71] The discretion to bar a creditor from voting in furtherance of an improper purpose under the CCAA parallels the similar discretion that exists under the BIA, which was recognized in Laserworks Computer Services Inc. (Bankruptcy), Re, 1998 CanLII 2550 (NS CA), 1998 NSCA 42, 165 N.S.R. (2d) 296. In Laserworks, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal concluded that the discretion to bar a creditor from voting in this way stemmed from the court’s power, inherent in the scheme of the BIA, to supervise “[e]ach step in the bankruptcy process” (at para. 41), as reflected in ss. 43(7), 108(3), and 187(9) of the Act. The court explained that s. 187(9) specifically grants the power to remedy a “substantial injustice”, which arises “when the BIA is used for an improper purpose” (para. 54). The court held that “[a]n improper purpose is any purpose collateral to the purpose for which the bankruptcy and insolvency legislation was enacted by Parliament” (para. 54).

[72] While not determinative, the existence of this discretion under the BIA lends support to the existence of similar discretion under the CCAA for two reasons.

[73] First, this conclusion would be consistent with this Court’s recognition that the CCAA “offers a more flexible mechanism with greater judicial discretion” than the BIA (Century Services, at para. 14 (emphasis added)).

[74] Second, this Court has recognized the benefits of harmonizing the two statutes to the extent possible. For example, in Indalex, the Court observed that “in order to avoid a race to liquidation under the BIA, courts will favour an interpretation of the CCAA that affords creditors analogous entitlements” to those received under the BIA (para. 51; see also Century Services, at para. 24; Nortel Networks Corp., Re, 2015 ONCA 681, 391 D.L.R. (4th) 283, at paras. 34-46). Thus, where the statutes are capable of bearing a harmonious interpretation, that interpretation ought to be preferred “to avoid the ills that can arise from [insolvency] ‘statute-shopping’” (Kitchener Frame Ltd., 2012 ONSC 234, 86 C.B.R. (5th) 274, at para. 78; see also para. 73). In our view, the articulation of “improper purpose” set out in Laserworks — that is, any purpose collateral to the purpose of insolvency legislation — is entirely harmonious with the nature and scope of judicial discretion afforded by the CCAA. Indeed, as we have explained, this discretion is to be exercised in accordance with the CCAA’s objectives as an insolvency statute.

[75] We also observe that the recognition of this discretion under the CCAA advances the basic fairness that “permeates Canadian insolvency law and practice” (Sarra, “The Oscillating Pendulum: Canada’s Sesquicentennial and Finding the Equilibrium for Insolvency Law”, at p. 27; see also Century Services, at paras. 70 and 77). As Professor Sarra observes, fairness demands that supervising judges be in a position to recognize and meaningfully address circumstances in which parties are working against the goals of the statute:
The Canadian insolvency regime is based on the assumption that creditors and the debtor share a common goal of maximizing recoveries. The substantive aspect of fairness in the insolvency regime is based on the assumption that all involved parties face real economic risks. Unfairness resides where only some face these risks, while others actually benefit from the situation . . . . If the CCAA is to be interpreted in a purposive way, the courts must be able to recognize when people have conflicting interests and are working actively against the goals of the statute.

(“The Oscillating Pendulum: Canada’s Sesquicentennial and Finding the Equilibrium for Insolvency Law”, at p. 30 (emphasis added))
In this vein, the supervising judge’s oversight of the CCAA voting regime must not only ensure strict compliance with the Act, but should further its goals as well. We are of the view that the policy objectives of the CCAA necessitate the recognition of the discretion to bar a creditor from voting where the creditor is acting for an improper purpose.

[76] Whether this discretion ought to be exercised in a particular case is a circumstance-specific inquiry that must balance the various objectives of the CCAA. As this case demonstrates, the supervising judge is best-positioned to undertake this inquiry.


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