Court of Appeal Overturns Pet Valu Decision: Class Members Can Openly Debate Opting Out Without Invalidating Opt-Out Period

Jennifer Dolman, Gillian S.G. Scott, Mary Paterson

May 8, 2013

Drew Hasselback,  Financial Post, National Post

(Extract)

“This landmark decision highlights class members’ rights to debate whether or not to opt out of a class action and provides further clarity on the line between persuasive debate and coercive communication,” write Jennifer DolmanGillian Scott and Mary Paterson of Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP.

The decision in 1250264 Ontario Inc. v. Pet Valu Canada Inc. is important because it confirms that the deadline for opt-out periods is effectively carved in stone. It also grants dissident plaintiffs greater liberty in how they voice their opinions over the suit. The appellate ruling reverses a lower court decision that had suggested there were circumstances in which opt-out periods could be extended beyond original expiry dates. The lower court ruling also criticized statements and tactics made by a group opposed to the lawsuit, thus suggesting that anti-lawsuit campaigns by dissident class members would be closely monitored by the court.

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