Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Supreme Court of Canada to Fast-Track Bell Appeal

The Supreme Court of Canada has conditionally agreed to Bell Canada's request for an expedited appeal process, after last week's Quebec Court of Appeal ruling that scuppered the telecommunications giant's pending sale to the Ontario Teachers' Pension fund.

A speedy hearing of BCE's appeal will occur only if the Court grants leave to appeal the Quebec decision.

In a "leave to appeal" motion, the Court considers whether a case has adequate merit and national importance to justify moving forward to an actual appeal.

Leave to appeal is not an automatic "rubber stamp:"

As many as 600 applications for leave are filed each year but the Court grants approximately 70 leave applications per year. Applications for leave are usually decided by a panel of three judges of the Court.

If leave to appeal is granted to Bell, a tentative hearing date of June 17, 2008 has been suggested by the Supreme Court of Canada.

A statement by BCE Inc. sets out the details:

MONTREAL, Quebec, May 26 2008 -- BCE Inc. (TSX, NYSE: BCE) today announced that the Supreme Court of Canada has granted its motion to expedite the leave application pertaining to the decision of the Québec Court of Appeal released on May 21, 2008 denying approval for the plan of arrangement related to the proposed privatization of BCE. As previously indicated, BCE, BellCanada, together with the Purchaser will seek leave to appeal.

The Supreme Court has established the following schedule in connection with the application for leave to appeal.

  • The application for leave to appeal and motion to expedite the hearing shall be served and filed by May 28, 2008;
  • Any responses to the application for leave and motion to expedite shall be served and filed by May 30, 2008.

In the event leave to appeal is granted and the motion to expedite the hearing is granted, the Court suggests that the following timelines apply:

  • The appellants' factums, record and book of authorities to be served and filed by June 6, 2008;
  • Any applications for leave to intervene to be served and filed by June 6, 2008;
  • The respondents' factums, records and books of authorities to be served and filed by June 10, 2008;
  • The interveners' factums to be served and filed by June 10, 2008;
  • The reply factum, if permitted under the rules of the Supreme Court, to
  • be served and filed by June 12, 2008;
  • The appeal to be heard on June 17, 2008 at 9:30 a.m.
  • The appellants to share one hour for oral argument and the respondents to share one hour for oral argument.
  • Any intervener permitted to make an oral argument shall have 10 minutes to do so.

In light of the Québec Court of Appeal's decision, the closing of the transaction will be contingent on the Supreme Court of Canada granting leave to appeal and the reversal by the Supreme Court of the judgment of the Québec Court of Appeal relating to the plan of arrangement.

See CBC News: Canada's Supreme Court grants BCE a speedy hearing if appeal is heard.

Also see CBC's BCE shares rise as Supreme Court agrees to speedy hearing.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

Visit our Toronto Law Firm website: www.wiselaw.net

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