K. Michael Stephens
Michael Stephens is senior litigation counsel at Hunter Litigation Chambers practising in the area of commercial law and public law litigation. He has law degrees from Dalhousie University and Harvard University, and is a former law clerk of the Supreme Court of Canada.
Michael maintains a general litigation practice and acts as legal counsel before courts and administrative tribunals, and in arbitration proceedings, in respect of a wide variety of commercial and administrative law matters. He has experience before the British Columbia, Alberta, and Federal Courts, and at the Supreme Court of Canada. Michael has been recognized in The Best Lawyers in Canada for his work in the areas of Administrative and Public Law and Corporate and Commercial Litigation, and as a notable practitioner in the area of dispute resolution in the Chambers Global Guide to the world's leading lawyers published by Chambers & Partners.
Michael has experience dealing with litigious land use matters (including in the forestry and mining contexts), corporate commercial disputes, and other private disputes. For example, he was lead counsel for TimberWest in a successful challenge to a 2009 municipal bylaw increasing the tax rate to TimberWest's private forest lands on Vancouver Island. He was co-counsel for Teal Cedar Products in a leading case on commercial arbitration appeals in the taking and compensation context (Teal Cedar Products Ltd. v. British Columbia, 2017 SCC 32). Michael's practice also includes constitutional and other public law litigation. Michael appeared as counsel in one of the leading cases on section 7 of the Charter, Blencoe v. British Columbia (Human Rights Commission),  2 S.C.R. 307.
Michael has appeared as a speaker at legal education seminars, and has been an instructor at the UBC Trial Advocacy Course and the CLEBC Winning Advocacy Skills Workshop. He has published in the areas of administrative law, constitutional law, expert evidence, and litigation practice and procedure.
Michael is a member of the executive of the Canadian Bar Association's (BC) Civil Litigation - Vancouver Subsection, past Chair of the Administrative Law (BC) Subsection (2011-2013), and past member of the executive of the Canadian Bar Association National Administrative Law Section. Michael served as a member of the Law Society of British Columbia's Working Group to develop Model Anton Piller and Mareva Injunction Orders for use in British Columbia courts.
Canada (Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency) v. Taseko Mines Limited, 2018 BCSC 1034 - (Co-counsel with Julia Roos). Successfully opposed Canada’s petition under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 seeking to enjoin Taseko Mines from proceeding with certain provincially authorized mining exploration activities. The Court agreed with Taseko’s position that properly interpreted the federal environmental assessment legislation does not apply to the work.
Teal Cedar Products Ltd. v. British Columbia, 2017 SCC 32 (with Mark Oulton and John Hunter, Q.C.): appearing on oral application for leave to appeal to the SCC, and successfully appealing a decision of the BC Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, restoring an award of compensation, including interest, obtained in an arbitration conducted under the Forestry Revitalization Act.
Great Canadian Gaming Corporation v. British Columbia Lottery Corporation, 2017 BCSC 574: opposing an application seeking to convert a conventional commercial dispute into a class action
Nelson (City) v. Mowatt, 2017 SCC 8: leading case on the law of adverse possession
Wilson-Tagoe v. British Columbia Lottery Corporation, 2016 BCSC 2216, aff’d 2017 BCCA 142: successful application for summary judgment dismissing a $50 million claim
TimberWest Forest Corp. v. Campbell River (City), 2016 BCCA 49: judicial review challenge to municipal tax rate bylaw
Kay v. Law Society of British Columbia, 2015 BCCA 303: representing law society on an appeal regarding application for reinstatement of a lawyer
Taseko Mines Limited v. Canada (Environment), 2015 FCA 254: regarding the application of the law of deliberative secrecy to an environmental assessment review panel
Harrison v. Law Society of British Columbia, 2015 BCSC 211, aff’d 2015 BCCA 258: judicial review of decision of law society’s complainants’ review committee
Ross v. British Columbia Lottery Corporation, 2014 BCSC 320 (co-counsel with M. Oulton, B. Olthuis and S. Ramsay): defending lottery corporation in action in negligence brought by a member of a voluntary self-exclusion program
Askin v. Law Society of British Columbia, 2013 BCCA 233: representing the law society in a proceeding for declaratory relief concerning the qualifications of Attorney General of British Columbia
British Columbia Lottery Corporation v. Dyson, 2013 BCSC 11 and British Columbia Lottery Corporation v. Skelton, 2013 BCSC 12 (co-counsel with G. van Ert): judicial review of decisions of Information and Privacy Commissioner of B.C. regarding disclosure of records held by public body
Teal Cedar Products Ltd. v. British Columbia, 2013 SCC 51 (co-counsel with J. Hunter, Q.C.): arbitration award for compensation arising out of creation of park – determination of availability of compound interest in B.C. arbitrations
Phillips v. Keefe, 2012 BCCA 123: (co-counsel with G. van Ert): judgment on claim for trespass, and to determine the location of a disputed property boundary
Murray v. Langley (Township), 2010 BCSC 102: summary trial as to whether landslide constituted an actionable private nuisance
TimberWest Forest Corp. v. Campbell River (City), 2009 BCSC 1804: and 2010 BCSC 466: (co-counsel M. Oulton): successful challenge to the validity of increase in municipal taxes upon holder of private forest land
VetshopAustralia Pty. Ltd. v. Pivotal Partners Inc., 2008 BCSC 1336: application for production of privileged documents based on asserted waiver of privilege
Jay & Mereti Holdings Ltd. v. British Columbia Lottery Corporation, 2008 BCSC 196: successfully setting aside an ex parteinjunction which sought to restrain the termination of a lottery operations agreement
Weyerhaeuser Company Limited v. Hayes, 2008 BCCA 120: (co-counsel with G. van Ert): concerning the appeal of a decision denying leave to appeal an arbitration award in a forestry dispute
Weyerhaeuser Company Limited v. Hayes, 2008 BCCA 31: (co-counsel with J. Hunter, Q.C.): appeal from decision setting aside arbitration award concerning a timber supply execution agreement
Cook v. Board of School Trustees of School District No. 43 (Coquitlam), 2007 BCSC 1229: judicial review challenging decision to close elementary school
Soussan v. Wolters, 2006 BCCA 478: review of a decision to deny indigent status to appellant on appeal from decision dismissing action for assault and battery
International Forest Products Ltd v. British Columbia, 2006 BCSC 233: action for the return of monies paid to Province pursuant to the invalid scaling of Crown timber
West Vancouver v. British Columbia, 2005 FC 593: (co-counsel with J. Hunter, Q.C.): challenge by way of judicial review to the environmental assessment concerning the Sea to Sky Highway Improvement Project
Society Promoting Environmental Conservation v. Canada (Attorney General), 2003 FCA 239: (co-counsel with J. Hunter, Q.C.): successfully defending a legal challenge to the validity of the expropriation of land by the federal Crown at Nanoose Bay, B.C.
TFL Forest Ltd. v. British Columbia, 2002 BCSC 180: claim for constructive expropriation of timber harvesting rights by park creation
Pacifica Papers Inc. v. 3017970 et al, 2001 BCSC 1069: 2001 BCCA 486: litigation concerning opposed plan of arrangement under Canada Business Corporations Act
Terrafund Financial Inc. v. 569244 B.C. Ltd., 2000 BCSC 1719: dismissal of action for enforcement of commitment letter on the ground it is not an enforceable contract
Blencoe v. British Columbia (Human Rights Commission), 2000 SCC 44: (co-counsel with J. Hunter, Q.C.): leading case on the interpretation and application of section 7 of the Charter- the protection of life, liberty and security of the person
Conferences and Publications
Conferences and Publications
Course Presenter on the Advocacy Practice Panel, for Continuing Legal Education Society British Columbia’s Civil Litigation Basics 2018 Conference, February 23, 2018.
Course Presenter and Course Materials Author, Continuing Legal Education Society British Columbia, Appellate Practice 2017, A Summary of Standards of Review in BC Appellate Proceedings, November 1, 2017.
Speaker, “Administrative Law Update,” for the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) Hearing Committee Training Conference, Vancouver, 11 September 2017.
Guest Instructor, Opening Submissions at Civil and Criminal Trials, Allan McEachern UBC Advanced Trial Advocacy.
Course Presenter, Continuing Legal Education Society British Columbia 18th Annual Winning Advocacy Skills Workshop, July 7, 2017.
Contributor, the Continuing Legal Education Society British Columbia, Introducing Evidence at Trial: A British Columbia Handbook, 2nd edition (2013), and 3rd edition (2017) Chapters 13 (Opinion Evidence) and 14 (Post-occurrence or Post-offense Conduct).
Presenter, “Contracts and the Duty of Good Faith,” Advocates Society Fall Conference, Sonoma, California, November 11, 2016.
Course Chair, Continuing Legal Education Society British Columbia, Summary Trials 2016, October 20, 2016.
Contributor, the Continuing Legal Education Society British Columbia, British Columbia Administrative Law Practice Manual, September 9, 2015.
Contributor, the Continuing Legal Education Society British Columbia, Expert Evidence in BC Civil Proceedings - 4th Edition, 2015.
Course Presenter and Course Materials Author, Continuing Legal Education Society British Columbia, Appellate Practice 2015, Applying for Leave to Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada: A Practice Paper, April 17, 2015.
Course Presenter, Advocacy Practice Panel, for Continuing Legal Education Society British Columbia’s Civil Litigation Basics 2015 Conference, March 2, 2015.
Course Presenter and Course Materials Author, Continuing Legal Education Society British Columbia, Motions to Strike 2014, Motions to Strike for No Reasonable Cause of Action and Motions to Strike on Other Grounds that Allow Evidence, April 25, 2014.
Speaker, “Courting Independence: Tribunal Governance, Independence and Accountability in Canada” (Ontario Bar Association-Canadian Bar Association joint program 31 May 2013).
K. Michael Stephens and Brian Duong, “Collateral Attack in Canadian Administrative Law: Principles Going Forward” (presented to the Canadian Bar Association’s 13th Annual National Administrative Law, Labour and Employment Law Conference: At the Crossroads, 23-24 November 2012).
Speaker, “Expertise in Administrative Law: Institutional or Individualized Assessment?” (presented to the Canadian Bar Association’s 12th Annual National Administrative Law, Labour and Employment Law Conference: Behind Closed Doors, 25-26 November 2011).
Update to chapter on "Pre-trial Disclosure of Expert Opinions" in the Continuing Legal Education's Expert Evidence in BC Civil Proceedings (2011).
Speaker, "The Fundamentals of Administrative Law" (The Canadian Institute’s Western Canadian Conference on The Law of Policing Workshop, 22 November 2010; and the 2nd Annual Western Canadian Conference on the Law of Policing, 1 December, 2011).
Contributor, "Administrative Law", co-authored with Greg Allen, the Continuing Legal Education's Annual Review of Law & Practice (2011).
Contributor, "Administrative Law," the Continuing Legal Education's Annual Review of Law and Practice (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010).
K. Michael Stephens and Robert J.C. Deane, "Motions to Strike: Update and Strategic Considerations" (the Continuing Legal Education Motions to Strike Conference, 13 November 2009).
Course Chair, Injunctions 2007 (November 9, 2007).
"Civil Procedure -- Court Rules" in the Continuing Legal Education's Annual Review of Law and Practice (2005), by Mike Stephens, Mark Oulton and Jasmine MacAdam.
"Civil Procedure -- Court Rules" in the Continuing Legal Education's Annual Review of Law and Practice (2004), by Mike Stephens, Stephanie McHugh and Jasmine MacAdam.
"Fidelity to Fundamental Justice: An Originalist Construction of Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms", (2002), 13 N.J.C.L. 183.
Hunter Litigation Chambers was again recommended as a Top-Tier Firm in Dispute Resolution in British Columbia, in The Legal 500 Canada 2019 edition. Four Lawyers are recommended in the editorial, William Smart QC, Michael Stephens, Brent Olthuis and Claire Hunter.
Hunter Litigation Chambers was again highly ranked in the 2019 Chambers Canada guide, recently published by Chambers and Partners.
In this most recent edition of the Guide, five of our counsel achieved recognition across two categories. Randy Kaardal, QC, Michael Stephens, Brent Olthuis and Claire Hunter were each again ranked as leading practitioners in the area of Litigation: General Commercial. Mark Oulton achieved a Band 1 recognition – the highest ranking - for his work in Agribusiness: Forestry – Nationwide - Canada.
The Chambers Canada guide ranks the best lawyers and law firms in over 40 specialist practice areas across Canada. Rankings are primarily based on peer and client interviews, but also rely on information submitted by law firms.
The Best Lawyers in Canada (2019 Edition) recognized Mike Stephens in the areas of Administrative and Public Law and Corporate and Commercial Litigation.
Martindale-Hubbell has released their 2018 ratings. Bill Smart, Mark Oulton and Brent Olthuis received the “AV/Preeminent” rating from their peers, which is the highest ranking. Michael Stephens and Randy Kaardal received the “Distinguished” rating. Each of these rating means that they were deemed by their peers to have very high professional ethics and preeminent/distinguished legal ability. Only lawyers with high ethical standards and professional ability receive a Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Rating.
Benchmark Canada has released its 2018 Attorney rankings and each of Claire Hunter, Randy Kaardal, Q.C., Brent Olthuis, Mark Oulton, Bill Smart, Q.C. and Michael Stephens are recognized as litigation stars.
Lexpert has released their 2018 directory of leading Canadian lawyers. Once again, Hunter Litigation Chambers is one of only two British Columbia litigation boutiques ranked in the top “most frequently recommended” band for corporate commercial litigation and the firm is also ranked as a leading firm in forestry law. Four lawyers are ranked as leading practitioners: Randy Kaardal is ranked in employment law (employer and employee), Mike Stephens and Claire Hunter in corporate commercial litigation and Mark Oulton in forestry law.
Five Hunter Litigation Chambers lawyers — Mike Stephens, Brent Olthuis, Claire Hunter, Trevor Bant and Julia Roos — were recognized in the British Columbia Court of Appeal’s 2017 Annual Report for their contributions to pro bono services on Court of Appeal cases in 2017.
On February 23, Michael Stephens and Shannon Ramsay were on the faculty for the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia’s “Civil Litigation Basics 2018” program. Mike spoke as one of the presenters of the “Advocacy Practice Panel” and Shannon presented on the topic of “Organizing your Evidence (Including Documents)”.
On November 1, Mike Stephens was on the faculty for the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia’s “Appellate Practice 2017” program. Mike spoke on a panel on “Commencing the Appeal” about standards of review in appellate proceedings.
Hunter Litigation Chambers has again been listed as one of the three top dispute resolution firms in British Columbia by the influential Chambers Guide 2018. Randy Kaardal, Q.C., Michael Stephens, Mark Oulton, Brent Olthuis and Claire Hunter were identified as leading litigation practitioners in the Guide.
The Best Lawyers in Canada (2018 Edition) recognized Michael Stephens for Administrative and Public Law and Corporate and Commercial Litigation.
Michael Stephens (with Mark Oulton and John Hunter, QC, former counsel at the firm) successfully appealed a decision of the BC Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, thereby restoring an award of compensation, including interest, obtained in an arbitration conducted under the Forestry Revitalization Act. The reasons for judgment are available here.
Michael Stephens (with Brent Olthuis) successfully opposed an application seeking to convert a conventional commercial dispute into a class action in Great Canadian Gaming Corporation v British Columbia Lottery Corporation, 2017 BCSC 574. The decision considered a point that had not previously been resolved in British Columbia, and determined that it would be inappropriate to convert these plaintiffs’ action into a class proceeding.