Biography

John Sullivan leads our Commercial Litigation Group and is an active member of our Family, Workplace and Insurance Law Groups.  He is recognized by Benchmark Canada® ,Best Lawyers in Canada® and Chambers Canada as a leading commercial litigation lawyer.

John has written and lectured on a variety of commercial litigation topics. He has been published in both Canada and the US in such journals as the Canadian Bar Review, The Washington Bar News, and the Oregon Creditor-Debtor Newsletter. He has been a guest lecturer for the Canadian Institute as well as the BC Continuing Legal Education Society. John has a passion for challenging litigation, and has earned a reputation for tireless efforts in defence of his clients' rights.

Please read the "client work" tab above to learn more about his practice.

Education

  • University of British Columbia, LL.B., 1995

Bar Admission

  • British Columbia, 1996

Recognition

  • Best Lawyers® in Canada 2015, 2016, and 2017 recognized as a leading lawyer in the area of Corporate and Commercial Litigation
  • Benchmark Canada® in 2014, 2015, 2016 - recognized as a “Local Litigation Star” in British Columbia
  • Chambers Canada 2016 - recognized as a "Leader in His Field" in the area of Dispute Resolution (British Columbia)

2016 Chambers Canada Commentary: John Sullivan of Harper Grey LLP heads the firm's commercial litigation group and is involved in shareholder and trust disputes. One source said: "There was insight and nuance in how he handled the case. He did it masterfully."

2017 Chambers Canada Commentary: Head of the firm’s commercial litigation department, John Sullivan attracts praise from market commentators for his “diligent and knowledgeable” approach to a wide range of commercial matters. One source enthused: “His service to the client was exceptional.” 

Leadership

  • Co-Chair, TAGLaw International Litigation & ADR Specialty Group

Client Work

Contractual/Quasi-Contractual Disputes

  • Acting as a plaintiff’s counsel in a three-week trial seeking equitable recession and related relief. This case also involved a substantial element of tracing of funds. 
  • Defending a BC business in a three-week trial against allegations of breach of contract, unjust enrichment and misappropriation of funds.
  • Defending a Crown Corporation in a seven-week trial against allegations that it had caused the failure of the plaintiff's initial public offering, allegedly leading to over $30 million in damages.
  • Representing a law firm in a four-week Legal Profession Act hearing before a Registrar relating to the enforcement of a significant contingency fee agreement. This case also involved the valuation of a substantial business.  John also acted for the firm in the BC Court of Appeal in this matter.

Corporate/Shareholder Disputes

  • Defending the CEO of a TSX-V listed mineral exploration company against allegations of oppression arising out of a proxy contest.
  • Defending the CEO and founder of a large BC manufacturing company in a nine-week trial of an oppression/derivative action, in which the CEO faced allegations of oppressive conduct and conflict of interest.
  • Representing the plaintiff in a seven-week oppression trial regarding shares in a company that owned a successful taxi business as well as significant hotel assets. This case also involved a large business valuation aspect.
  • Representing the founder of a technology company in an oppression proceeding relating to the use of anti-dilution shares.
  • Representing a minority shareholder in a large Lower Mainland marina in a four day hearing advancing claims under the oppression remedy.
  • Acting for a large private company in litigation against its former directors and officers for misappropriation of funds. In this same dispute, John also represented the company in opposing an application for liquidation, as well as in contested proceedings to rectify its share register.
  • Acting for the liquidator of a religious corporation in a dispute relating to the exigibility of its charitable assets to pay child abuse claims. This culminated in a five-week hearing in the BC Supreme Court, followed by a hearing in the BC Court of Appeal. The matter involved issues such as the nature of ecclesiastical corporations, the exigibility of charitable trust assets, and the division of powers between the federal insolvency power and the provincial power over property and civil rights.

Family Law

  • Acting as co-counsel for the wife of a mining executive in a matrimonial trial involving significant corporate and trust assets. This matter settled part way through the trial.
  • Acting for individuals in S.91 FLA  injunction applications.
  • Acting for a variety of individuals and organizations in wills, estates and trust litigation.

Private International Law

  • Acting as counsel for a US trustee in bankruptcy in a four day contested hearing seeking recognition of a judgment from the U.S. District Court relating to a Ponzi schemes under the reciprocal enforcement of judgements precisions of B.C.’s Court Order Enforcement Act. 
  • Enforcing American and other judgments in BC under the Court Order Enforcement Act, as well as the Morguard principle.
  • Enforcing American letters rogatory in the BC Supreme Court.
  • Defending BC businesses and individuals against foreign judgments.

Securities/Investment Advisor Litigation

  • Representing an investment advisor in a two-week trial in which she faced allegations of having improperly taken confidential documents when she moved from one brokerage firm to another.
  • Representing an investment advisor against her former brokerage in bankruptcy proceedings in which the brokerage sought leave to pursue a fraud action against her with respect to significant deficiencies in two client accounts.
  • Representing the former CEO of a TSX-V listed junior mineral exploration company against allegations that he had engaged in insider trading with respect to the shares of that company.

Bankruptcy and Insolvency Disputes

  • Acting in the BC Court of Appeal for a debtor company appealing a decision of the BC Supreme Court that rejected the debtor's proposal to creditors. This case remains the leading authority for the proposition that an appeal of a trustee's valuation of a claim is a true appeal, and not a trial de novo.
  • Acting in the BC Supreme Court for an insolvent construction company seeking to have its proposal to creditors approved, and to avoid personal liability for its directors and officers. This case remains a leading authority on the types of claims against directors and officers that can be compromised through the proposal process.
  • Acting in the BC Court of Appeal for a personal debtor facing fraudulent conveyance allegations. This case remains a leading authority on the interpretation of s.38 of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

Administrative Law

  • John has appeared before a variety of administrative tribunals and has acted as counsel for the Appeals Board of a major BC professional disciplinary body.

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