Friday, 28 April 2017

Some scant tidbits of news plucked from the annual reports

The Annual Reports of the multinational tobacco companies which operate in Canada were issued last month. Contained within them were some small nuggets of news about the progress of the provincial cost recovery suits against them.

The companies are required to inform shareholders of the potential liabilities they face as a result of lawsuits. This protection for investors has, for more than a decade, been the only regular source of information on the progress of the provincial health care cost recovery suits.

Page 144 in the BAT 2016 Annual Report is devoted to details on the Canadian actions. From this I have learned that:

  • the B.C. government "delivered an expert report dated October 2016, quantifying its damages in the amount of CAD $118 billion."  This is more than the combined claim to date for Ontario ($50 billion) and Quebec ($60 billion).
  • New Brunswick's claim has also been quantified -- "in the rage of $25 - $60 billion from 1954 to 2060".

As for the other cases? No sign of any trial dates, but "discoveries are substantially complete" in New Brunswick.  The rest are still in "early case management stage".

Philip Morris' Annual Report for 2016 notes that 10 of the 16 health care cost recovery actions that are pending against it are in Canada (5 of the rest are in Nigeria, and the other one is in Korea). It also reports that:

  • The New Brunswick Court "entered a consent order establishing a discovery timetable that contemplates the province of New Brunswick applying by September 2017 for a trial date.
  • "Pre-trial discovery" is also ongoing in British Columbia, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta and Manitoba. It is scheduled to begin this year for Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.

Japan Tobacco's Annual Report for 2016 doesn't contain much in the way of news -- and even seems to have missed out on some of the details in the others. It notes, for example, that the "claim amount is unspecified" for B.C. -- no mention of any $118 billion figure.

Notices filed with the Supreme Court

B.C. had 60 days to tell the Supreme Court if it wished to appeal the unfavourable decision from the B.C. Court of Appeal on disclosure of records. That window closed on Easter weekend -- but not before B.C. submitted an Application for Leave to Appeal. Unlikely that the court record will provide much insight -- two certificates on limitations to public access were also submitted -- as was a Certificate "if inappropriate for a judge to take part in adjudication." No risk, I suspect, of Imperial Tobacco's former counsel being asked to wade in on this one!