Irwin G. Nathanson, K.C.


T: 604.662.8840

Irwin G. Nathanson, K.C. is esteemed counsel, known as one of the top trial and appellate lawyers in British Columbia and Canada.  He has litigated many of British Columbia’s leading complex business disputes. Irwin regularly appears in the British Columbia Supreme Court, the British Columbia Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court of Canada. He is often retained to take matters on appeal.

Irwin acts as counsel on a range of matters, with a focus on corporate commercial litigation, including class actions, hostile take-over bids, derivative actions, pension litigation, professional negligence, and securities matters, including shareholder disputes. He is often retained to work with major international law firms based in Eastern Canada and the United States.

  • British Columbia Bar, 1969
  • LL.B., Dalhousie University, 1968
  • B.Com, Dalhousie University, 1965
  • Excellence Award Winner for Commercial Litigation Team of the Year, Canadian Law Awards 2020
  • Excellence Award Winner for Litigator of the Year, Canadian Law Awards 2020
  • Consistently ranked in the Top Band of Litigators in British Columbia by Chambers and Who’s Who Legal.
  • Vancouver’s “Corporate and Commercial Litigation Lawyer of the Year,” 2017, Best Lawyers
  • “Class Action Litigation Lawyer of the Year” in 2012 and 2016, Best Lawyers
  • “Director and Officer Liability Practice Lawyer of the Year” for 2013 and 2018, Best Lawyers
  • “Bet-the-Company Litigation Lawyer of the Year” in 2010, 2014 and 2021 Best Lawyers
  • Recognized in the fields of director and officer liability practice, labour and employment law, and securities law, Best Lawyers
  • “Most frequently recommended” in the areas of Corporate Commercial Litigation, Lexpert
  • “Repeatedly recommended” in Directors’ and Officers’ Liability Litigation and Securities Litigation, and as a leading practitioner in Corporate Commercial Litigation, Lexpert
  • Lexpert®/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada.
  • The Legal 500 Canada leading lawyer for dispute resolution in British Columbia
  • A Benchmark Canada “Litigation Star” since 2012, and one of the Top 50 Trial Lawyers in Canada.
  • Appointed King’s Counsel (formerly known as Queen’s Counsel) in 1985
Cases of Interest
  • Concord Pacific Acquisitions Inc. v. Hong Leong Oei, Hong Kong Expo Holdings Ltd. and Canadian Metropolitan Properties Corporation, 2019 BCSC 1190
    Acting with NST partner Stephen R. Schachter and Associate M. Caitlin Ohama-Darcus, Irwin successfully defended a claim in excess of $350 million brought by Concord Pacific Acquisitions Inc. against three named defendants, including renowned Singaporean businessman, Hong Leong Oei. At the heart of this dispute was a purported transaction to develop a significant piece of waterfront land owned indirectly by Mr. Oei, described in the court’s reasons as a “multiyear billion-dollar development.” The NST team argued a 48-day trial before the Honourable Mr. Justice Voith. On July 19, 2019, the Supreme Court of British Columbia released its judgment. Concord has now appealed.Sample press coverage:

  • Wastech Services Ltd. v. Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District, 2016 BCSC 68, 2019 BCCA 66 and  2021 SCC 7.
    Acting with NST Associate Julia K. Lockhart, Irwin represented the GVSDD in an appeal, ultimately to the Supreme Court of Canada, of a decision in which Wastech was awarded compensation based on an alleged breach of the duty of good faith in a 20-year relational contract. NST succeeded in lower courts in British Columbia in establishing that the arbitration award was based on errors of law, including a misapplication of the leading case, Bhasin. Wastech successfully sought leave to the Supreme Court of Canada. The SCC confirmed that Metro Vancouver did not breach any duty of good faith when it made its waste allocation decision, finding that Metro Vancouver’s decision was consistent with the purposes for which it was given the discretion to make those decisions under the contract. The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in this case will have important implications for all contracts that provide one party with discretionary powers, building on the Supreme Court of Canada’s decisions in Bhasin v. Hrynew, 2014 SCC 71, and C.M. Callow Inc. v. Zollinger, 2020 SCC 45.
  • McCormick v. Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, 2014 SCC 39
    Successfully represented a leading national law firm before the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada in relation to a former partner’s human rights age discrimination complaint. McCormick was listed by Lexpert magazine as one of the top 10 business cases of 2014.
  • Telus Corp. v. Mason Capital Management LLC, 2012 BCCA 403
    Represented Mason Capital, an American hedge fund, in a corporate battle against Telus. The case was notable for its compressed time frame—the trial was heard in early September 2012, and the appeal was expedited and heard by the Court of Appeal in early October 2012. Lexpert magazine has referred to this case as “an epic shareholder dispute that demanded inter-firm teamwork and strategic vision.”
  • Hughes v. Vander Zalm
    Successfully represented B.C.’s former conflict of interest commissioner Ted Hughes in a jury trial against former B.C. Premier Bill Vander Zalm. (2012 BCSC; press coverage here:
  • Minera Aquiline Argentina SA v. IMA Exploration Inc., 2006 BCSC 1102; 2007 BCCA 319
    With NST partners Stephen R. Schachter, Q.C., and James C. MacInnis, Q.C., Irwin acted for the plaintiff in this long running fight to control what was considered to be the world’s largest undeveloped silver deposit, in the Chabut region of Argentina. The plaintiff was the Argentinean subsidiary of an Ontario public corporation, which had acquired the subsidiary through a competitive bidding process run by Newmont Gold. Following the acquisition, the plaintiff discovered silver anomalies in data developed by the subsidiary while it was owned by Newmont, and then discovered that the defendant’s geologists had received the data as part of their due diligence in the bidding process and had used the data to stake the claims.  The matter raised complex issues relating to the scope of the constructive trust remedy, as well as the consideration of foreign legal principles by British Columbia courts. NST’s client was successful in obtaining ownership of the mineral claims though a constructive trust following a 3-month trial, an appeal and a leave application to the Supreme Court of Canada.Sample press coverage:

  • Strother v. 3464920 Canada Inc.,2007 SCC 24, 2005 BCCA 35
    Represented one of Canada’s national law firms in proceedings before the British Columbia Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada. The plaintiff, a former client of the law firm, accused the law firm and one of its former partners of breach of fiduciary duty resulting from acting in a conflict of interest. While the plaintiff achieved some success in the Court of Appeal, in the Supreme Court of Canada the law firm was exonerated of misconduct and the remedy awarded by the Court of Appeal was substantially reduced.
  • Hollinger Inc. v. Radler, 2006 BCSC 1712, 2007 BCCA
    Working with Murray A. Clemens, Q.C. and Geoffrey B. Gomery, Q.C. (now Gomery J.), successfully defended an application to continue an ex parte Mareva injunction pronounced by the Supreme Court of British Columbia on October 25, 2006. The continuation application was heard over 4 days and dismissed on November 18, 2006. An application for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal was dismissed on November 29, 2006.
  • Buschau v. Rogers Cablesystems Inc. 2006 SCC 28
    Successfully defended related actions in the Supreme Court of Canada in which employees sought to recover pension surplus by forcing the wind-up of a closed pension plan.
  • Lieberman v. Business Development Bank of Canada, 2009 BCSC 1312
    Successfully defended this class action at trial. The plaintiffs, pensioners, claimed against the defendant for breach of fiduciary duty in the administration of its pension plan. Though some breaches of fiduciary duty were found, the plaintiffs were limited to technical relief conceded by the defendant and did not recover damages.
  • Samos v. James A. Pattison and Others, 2001 BCSC 1790, 2003 BCCA 87
    Successfully defended a proposed class action in which the plaintiff sought to certify a $500 million claim alleging fraud and misrepresentation. Certification was refused, as was an application for reconsideration.
  • Inmet Mining Corp. v. Homestake Canada Inc., 2002 BCSC 61, 2003 BCCA 610
    Together with partners Stephen R. Schachter, Q.C. and Murray A. Clemens, Q.C., Irwin acted for the plaintiff vendor of a gold mine, who was awarded $111 million from a defendant who unlawfully refused to complete a purchase agreement on the basis of an alleged failure to disclose material facts.
  • Bower v. Cominco Ltd. (BCSC 1998, 1999, 2003 BCCA 537
    Successfully defended a $78-million claim by pensioners alleging an unlawful pension surplus transfer between plans.