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Practice Area Definitions: Canada

Aboriginal Law

Firms operating in this area advise First Nations and Aboriginal groups as well as private companies or government clients in their dealings with First Nations. In the USA, gaming law and regulatory work as well as casino development have traditionally been key areas of this market; in Canada this section includes a strong emphasis on energy project development and consultation and accommodation processes. There is also a growing emphasis on economic development and business transactions involving First Nations. Chambers Canada ranks firms who act exclusively for First Nations in a separate subtable.

Advertising & Marketing

This section covers work on behalf of advertising and marketing agencies and brand-holders, who often conduct their own marketing and advertising campaigns. It includes both commercial and regulatory work; regulatory matters in particular are undergoing some degree of change due to the increased use of online advertising and user generated content in campaigns. Privacy and data protection expertise is ranked in a separate subtable.


This practice area encompasses a broad range of legal, financial and transactional support for agricultural projects, representing a wide spectrum of clients. Firms may represent project developers, investors and financial institutions as well as other stakeholders from the private and public sectors. The practice includes rural real estate due diligence, acquisitions and leasing, sector-specific M&A, environmental law and matters relating to financing and the securitisation of agricultural receivables.

These may involve instruments such as rural product notes and agribusiness credit and deposit certificates, warranties, receivables certificates, and credit notes. The practice also covers international trade matters including pre-export financing, import and export licences and compliance with international trade regulations. This section also takes into account licensing, distribution and regulatory matters.

Arbitration (International)

This chapter features advice on the resolution of disputes by one or more neutral parties, either an arbitrator or an arbitration panel. Many contracts - including those imposed on customers by many financial and healthcare organisations - require mandatory arbitration in the event of a dispute. Examples of the institutions include AAA (American Arbitration Association), ICC (International Chamber of Commerce), ICSID (International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes) and LCIA (London Court of International Arbitration.)

Banking & Finance

A broad-based definition of banking transactions, which include advice to both borrower and lender clients. The following topics are included:

Acquisition finance: transactions involving arranging finance for acquisitions acting for either the lender or the borrower.

Islamic finance: Shari’a-compliant work such as acquisitions, forming funds to invest in real estate and commercial properties, issuing of sukuk.

General bank lending: syndicated lending, structured finance, leveraged finance.

Project finance: financing of infrastructure and industrial projects. Often arranged on a non-recourse loan basis. See also equipment finance and leasing.

Refinancing: The refinancing and restructuring of existing loans and debtor in possession financing is also included.


This section encompasses the full spectrum of work involving companies in the cannabis industry. Ranked firms and lawyers will show strong ties to the sector. Types of work may include, but are not restricted to; M&A and financings; intellectual property for cannabis-based products and medicines; and regulatory compliance and litigation.

Capital Markets

Chambers guides cover key areas of capital markets either as distinct tables or under the wider umbrella. The areas include Debt & Equity; Derivatives; Securitisation; Structured finance (CDOs, repackagings, other synthetic products).


This section ranks law firms and lawyers who advise third sector clients on all types of contentious and non-contentious matters, ranging from sector-specific advice on constitutional and governance issues or public benefit requirements, to more general advice on corporate, property, employment and tax issues.


Chambers’ coverage of Competition and Antitrust covers the body of laws that prohibits anti-competitive behaviour (monopoly) and unfair business practices. This includes practices that hurt business, consumers, or both, or that generally violate standards of ethical behaviour. Antitrust litigation and M&A-related competition work, such as merger control, are also covered by this section.


Construction covers contractual adviser work within the construction industry for both the suppliers (e.g. devel- opers, contractors, engineers and architects), and those clients employing these types of companies e.g. corpo- rates or state authorities on their building plans. Our con- struction sections cover both litigious and non-litigious matters.


This broad category covers both public company and private equity (including venture capital) matters. The chapter includes company acquisitions, dispositions and related financing arrangements, capitalisations, entity selection and formation, operating and partnership agreements, securities and governance matters.

Also covers those transactions designed to help restructuring within companies and their subsidiaries by change of ownership. Priority is placed on primary representatives, those acting for buyers and sellers, whilst those acting for financial advisers, underwriters and the banks financing such transactions are also considered.

Data Protection

Data Protection covers all aspects of law surrounding the control of information by both public and private sector bodies. Many law firms acting in this arena advise clients on the development of binding corporate rules and other issues relating to international data transfers. This section also includes work arising from freedom of information and access to information requests. Another significant type of work involves the defence of clients facing potential fines for data protection breaches.

Employment & Labour

In Chambers Canada, labour law firms represent corporates in their dealings with union issues, collective bargaining agreements and strike avoidance. This section also covers occupational health and safety act legislation and proceedings before labour and industrial relations boards.

Employment covers both contentious and non-contentious employment matters relating to day-to-day business issues as well as mergers and takeovers. Includes employment litigation related to sex, race, and age discrimination. Lawyers also advise on the writing of policy handbooks for major corporates and HR training. Chambers Canada separately ranks lawyers and law firms who act exclusively for unions and employees.

Employee Share Schemes & Incentives

This section focuses on employee benefits, including share incentive plans (SIPs) and employee management incentives (EMIs), and tax-efficient structuring of payment schemes. It also includes lawyers who work on disputes following the implementation of share schemes.


Although Chambers is aware of the overlap with Projects and project financing, the energy chapters focus on corporate/commercial, regulatory and capital markets issues arising from the energy sector. These include the regulatory components of M&A and other transactional work, pure regulatory work related to the application for licences, and compliance and enforcement with regulatory bodies.

Electricity/Power covers advice on the development, financing and permitting of energy projects (such as electric, coal, oil & gas fired plants, nuclear and hydro- electric plants), facilities management, co-generation and restructuring/deregulation arising out of the wholesale and retail markets. In Chambers Canada this section also covers renewable and nuclear energy.
Oil and Gas covers all upstream and downstream work including exploration, infrastructure and pipeline developments and service contracts, royalties, licensing and operation agreements. It also includes corporate issues such as M&A, capital raisings, taxation and regulatory compliance.

Renewables focuses on the financing, development and regulatory issues surrounding wind and wave power generation, solar, biomass and geothermal energy generation. It also includes advice on compliance with clean energy regulations.

Nuclear include licensing and operation, commercial transactions, reactor oversight, enforcement and compliance, whistle-blower statutes and non-retaliation policy, as well as nuclear waste and fuel procurement.

Natural Resources focuses on mining and minerals exploration, development and production agreements, including royalty issues, project finance, taxation and other financing arrangements. Engineering, processing and refining contracts, sales structures and environmental issues are also covered.


The environment chapter features both litigation and advisory/transactional support to clients. This includes general corporate issues, (e.g. due diligence on mergers), the development of brownfield sites, and pollution issues.

‘Traditional’ environment work includes regulatory compliance, litigation and enforcement actions related to air, water, wetlands, waste and endangered species. We also feature advice to corporate and financial clients on the environmental aspects of M&A, financings, securities offerings and other transactions, which involve due diligence and environmental insurance issues. This section also covers environmental impact assessment and emergency response.

Financial Services Regulation

This chapter covers both non-contentious and contentious matters arising out of the Financial Services industry and advice on all aspects of internal organisation and governance, transactions and operations. Non-contentious matters include assistance to bank / financial institution clients in complying with the full range of financial services laws and regulations in their daily operations.

This section also encompasses financial institutions business transactions, especially the advice on regulatory issues in mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures of financial services companies and the implementation of holdings in foreign countries. This section also covers the lobbying work done by the firm for the development of new laws and regulations. In contentious matters, we include advice related to the defence of financial institutions in criminal and civil examinations, inspections, investigations, and formal proceedings by federal and state financial regulators and self-regulatory organisations.


This section includes those acting for franchisees and franchisers and covers both transactional and contentious work. On the non-contentious side, this includes setting up a franchise arrangement, expanding a system and closing down arrangements. Disputes arising from the sector include as disputed closing down of a system or contractual obligations.

General Business Law

General Business Law encompasses a range of commercial law fields relevant to high-end business users. The core focuses on corporate/commercial law, but in lieu of separate practice areas General Business Law can also cover many areas, including dispute resolution, banking & finance, and sector-specific practice areas.


Healthcare covers a wide range of work, including transactional, advisory and contentious matters. By its nature it is extremely wide-ranging, often leading lawyers to consolidate expertise in specialist areas such as procurement, commissioning, healthcare technology or financing work. Transactional work is primarily the sale and purchase of some or all of a health system or health insurance company. Law firms advise on competition issues and assorted regulatory matters for clients such as hospitals, health systems and insurance companies.

In Canada healthcare litigation includes a strong focus on medical malpractice defence. This section also takes into account healthcare privacy and mental health law, as well as healthcare human resources and labour relations law. Please also see Product Liability for litigation arising from pharmaceutical and medical devices defects. The regulation of these areas also features in our life sciences chapter.


Law firms featured in this section provide advice on all aspects of inbound and outbound immigration, such as work permits and visas, workforce mobility, FSW and other legislative and regulatory changes.

Information Technology

Information Technology focuses on the start-up, development and finance of technology-based businesses, advising start-up or later stage enterprises, venture capital investors, and other financial investors. Issues include private and public capital raisings, joint venture agreements, share listings, corporate governance and M&A. Researchers also consider legal advice given to suppliers and purchasers in relation to significant IT supply and services contracts. Work in this sector may also include outsourcing, patent work, infrastructure projects and product launches, as well as litigation.


Insurance includes both contentious and non-contentious insurance and reinsurance matters. On the contentious side, we feature coverage claims litigation, broker`s negligence and both `facultative` and `treaty` reinsurance disputes. There is also a element of professional negligence issues arising from insurance disputes. On the non-contentious side, we include all forms of M&A, capital raisings, demutualisations and other regulatory issues.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property covers disputes related to patent, copyright and trademark infringement. Litigation concerning trade secrets also features. We also feature related issues such as licensing and IP commercialisation.

International Trade/WTO

This section covers classic trade cases such as anti-dumping, countervailing duties, export control and other customs/tariff classifications and regulatory work. Lawyers also advise on matters relating to NAFTA, WTO and GATT trade provisions and the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), an areas that overlaps to some extent with the white-collar crime field.

Investment Funds

This section ranks those firms and individuals advising in the world of investment funds. It covers work on behalf of sponsors and institutional investors, including fund formation, fund-raising, investments, asset management regulatory matters, hybrid funds, funds of funds and spin-outs. The capacity to provide regulatory and relevant tax advice is also considered.

This section includes open-ended funds, closed-end funds, hedge funds, real estate funds and infrastructure funds as well as ETFs. Please also refer to the Private Equity: Buyouts and Private Equity: Fund Formation definitions.

Leisure & Hospitality

This is an industry section covering all strands of legal services carried out for clients involved in the Leisure industry, ranging from ranging from hotels, restaurants and bars, to amusement parks and casinos. The key strands of legal advice relate to real estate, employment and OSHA, hotel management and franchising arrangements, and corporate/commercial matters and financing.


This section ranks law firms and lawyers who advise on licence applications and reviews in the liquor, gambling and sectors.

Life Sciences

This practice area broadly focuses on the commercialisation of products across the life sciences sector, including  pharmaceuticals,  medical  devices,  biotechnology programmes, life systems, cosmetics, nutraceuticals and food processing. The section also encompasses organisations and institutions that devote themselves to research, development, technology transfer and commercialisation within the life sciences sphere.

Intellectual property issues tend to dominate in this area as pharmaceutical giants seek to obtain innovative blockbuster drugs from biotechs and other sector companies. The section also centres on the licensing and acquisition of new products. Litigation centring on claims of product liability can be found in the Product Liability chapter of Chambers Canada.


This section ranks those firms and individuals which advise on civil litigation on behalf of businesses, high net worth individuals and other non-public sector entities. The primary focus of this section is corporate litigation and litigation arising out of commercial arrangements, including shareholder disputes, post-M&A disputes and contractual disputes. Less weight is given to civil litigation types which are covered elsewhere in the Canada Guide, for example banking litigation, professional negligence, civil fraud, insurance or restructuring/insolvency.

Disputes involving public sector bodies (judicial reviews, procurement challenges, etc.) will not be covered in this section. Inquests, public inquiries, tribunals, regulatory investigations and related enforcement actions will not be covered in this section.
This chapter exclusively covers courtroom litigation, rather than alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation and arbitration.

Litigation: Product Liability

This chapter encompasses legal claims that allow an injured party to recover financial compensation from the manufacturer or seller of a product. This can include faulty brakes, contaminated food and medicine lacking appropriate label warnings. Law firms advise manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, retailers and others who make the product available to the public.

It also covers toxic tort, relating to the exposure to chemicals, pharmaceutical drugs or occupational hazards. Most pharmaceutical claims are mass tort cases, because drugs are consumed by thousands of people. Occupational toxic tort cases occur where industrial and other works have been exposed to toxic chemicals. Most of the law in this area has traditionally arisen from asbestos exposure.

Litigation: White-Collar Crime

This practice area covers non-violent wrongdoings such as corruption and financial crimes. Examples include bribery, major fraud and insider trading. Litigation, compliance and government investigations are relevant to this practice area.

Media & Broadcasting

The media market has many different facets. Chambers Canada has attempted to highlight lawyers who have an understanding of the issues related to key sectors such as Advertising, Film & Television, Music, Publishing and Theatre. Within these sectors, we spotlight those lawyers, who concentrate on either contentious or non-contentious matters.

Litigation includes copyright and contractual disputes (either representing studios, producers or talent); IP and trade mark disputes; antitrust and matters arising from film finance. On the non-contentious side, Chambers includes production; financing and distribution concerns; IP; licensing and supplementary rights planning.


This section ranks Canada’s leading mediators. All are successful resolvers of disputes. Organisation rankings are not given, as parties in dispute tend to agree on instructing individual mediators suited to their personalities and to the nature of their case, rather than a provider or mediation set.


This section ranks lawyers who provide non-contentious advice on pensions issues for employers, schemes, fund managers, trustees and the State. Issues looked at are var ied, but may include pension liabilities, debt restructuring, scheme mergers and demergers, investment management and funding negotiations.
See also: Pensions Litigation, Employee Share Schemes & Incentives

Pensions Litigation

This section ranks law firms and lawyers who advise on a wide range of contentious issues concerning pensions, including rectification claims, recoveries in the event of insolvency, determinations of liabilities, judicial review and allegations of wrongdoing.
See also: Pensions

Privacy & Data Security

This section covers compliance with all aspects of the law surrounding the control of information by both public and private sector bodies. Work of an international nature can include advising clients with multinational operations on data security issues relating to cross-border transfers of data, such as in large-scale outsourcing transactions involving a number of countries, and on global or multi-jurisdictional privacy compliance programmes.
See also: Data Protection

Private Client

This section ranks firms and lawyers who advise individuals and trustees on contentious and non-contentious aspects of asset management, including wills and probate, tax and trusts. Our Contentious Trusts subsection highlights leading litigation practices in this area. Typical clients include high net worth individuals, families and trust companies.

Private Equity: Buyouts

This section focuses on the transactional aspect of private equity funds work. It takes into account LBO, M&A, recapitalisation and restructuring-related matters at both the high-end and mid-market level.

Private Equity: Fund Formation

This section covers the formation of private equity funds, ranging  from  LBOs,  secondaries  and  infrastructure funds, to hybrid funds, mezzanine and distressed debt. Particular attention is paid to the sponsor side, because this incorporates the actual structuring of the fund.


The projects chapters focus on the development, financing (limited and non-recourse), refinancing and acquisition/divestitures of large projects that arise from the capital intensive infrastructure and energy markets.

Clients in this sector include sponsors, lenders, project originators and multilateral agencies and development banks. In the energy sector, we include advice on the development of refineries, pipelines, LNG and petrochemical terminals, power plants and wind power, waste-to-energy and hydro-wave technology.

The chapter also features infrastructure matters such as toll road and bridge financing; rail and light rail systems; water desalination plants; as well as state-sponsored programmes (PPP/PFI) such as hospitals, schools, housing and prisons.

Public Procurement

This section ranks law firms and lawyers who advise corporations and government bodies on the acquisition of goods or services by governmental entities. Areas covered may include education, healthcare, social housing, transport and infrastructure.

Real Estate

Corporate matters related to real estate include M&A of large real estate holding companies, complex fund and REIT transactions, private equity and public securities. These real estate lawyers are distinct from pure corporate lawyers in that they typically come from a real estate background, have an understanding of the underlying asset. Real estate finance matters are also included.

Lawyers do not need to act exclusively for lenders but should have a healthy lender client base which gives them the volume of work in this field. Some of these lawyers will also handle aspects of complex debt capital markets – such as securitisation – but the decision to include them in a real estate table will be based on their understanding of the underlying asset. The structuring and transactional advice provided to real estate investment trusts impacts on our real estate tables.

Zoning and land use specialists often form an identifiable category. They perform an important role in major developments, advising on zoning regulations and municipal restrictions used by some cities to control development within their borders. Easement and eminent domain (or condemnation) is also covered.


This chapter features structuring and transactional advice related to specialist real estate investment trusts. Includes: IPOs, going private transactions, joint ventures, M&As, REIT formation and investment work, restructurings, REIT tax issues, litigation, 144As that involve REITs, financings, Special Committee representations and UPREIT and DOWNREIT structure implementation.


This section covers work on behalf of creditors (including banks, financial investors and steering committees), insolvency  practitioners,  corporate  debtors  and  their officers/directors.  Work examples may include debt restructuring, distressed M&A activity, formal insolvency procedures, contingency planning, debtor advisory work, distressed creditor and equity investment and trading.


Retail is an industry table covering law firms which have developed a track record in serving the needs of large national retailers. Naturally, real estate, planning and land use matters will feature prominently, but the firm must also advise on franchise, IP, trademark and e-commerce matters. Furthermore, it should ideally demonstrate aptitude in employment matters and be able to respond to the majority of tax, advertising and regulatory and consumer protection issues, as well as disputes both nationally and internationally.

Startups & Emerging Companies

Startups & Emerging Companies covers work on behalf of emerging growth companies, start-ups, individual investors and VC funds. It does not include VC fund formation. Work might include early and late-stage venture financings, venture capital partnerships, regulatory compliance issues, other advisory work, and IPOs. Emerging markets of focus include technology, life sciences and clean technology.


Tax covers a broad range of matters on both the contentious and non-contentious side. Non-contentious matters include M&A transactions and equity raising issues both domestically and abroad, as well as tax advisory work on behalf  of  corporate  clients.  Financing  and  investment management are other key non-contentious tax issues. On the contentious side, disputes with public authorities in the form of litigation, appeals and tribunals are included. This section also takes into account transfer pricing.


The telecoms sections concentrate on a range of legal issues arising from the heavily regulated areas of telecommunications and broadcasting. Work includes transactional and litigation advice to telecoms companies, wireless operators, TV and/or radio broadcasters and the regulatory issues that such companies face. These issues might be government-sponsored inquiries, investigations or compliance proceedings. Other matters include interconnection and resales laws, multimedia agreements and licensing activity.


Transportation is a broad industry category, which covers a number of discrete specialisms. In Canada this chapter is divided into aviation, shipping (maritime) and rail & road sections.

Aviation includes finance, regulatory and litigation matters. Finance concentrates on the advice to manufacturers, purchasers and investors (such as hedge and private equity funds) on the sale, leasing and acquisition of portfolios of aircraft. Also includes the 2001 UNIDROIT Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment, or Cape Town Convention, which relates to the electronic registration of aircraft interests.

Shipping & maritime litigation involves breach of charter party disputes, cargo and bills of lading claims, the arrest of vessels and cargoes, marine insurance claims, collision, salvage and environmental liabilities. On the non-contentious side, law firms advise on contractual arrangements for construction, financing and registration of vessels, customs and licensing, and documentation relating to charter parties and bills of lading.

The Rail section includes advice to both railways and shippers. Key issues include rail rates litigation, fuel supply/surcharges and proceedings before the Transportation Safety Board of Canada and the U.S. Surface Transportation Board. Road (carriage/commercial) covers issues of carriage of goods/cargo losses, personal injury matters, bills of lading disputes and cargo security compliance issues.

For Road Infrastructure matters, please see the Projects chapter, which includes the financing and development of toll roads, rail projects, seaports and airports, which can utilise the public-private partnership model.

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