Thursday, September 27, 2012

New Douglas Inquiry "Independent" Counsel appointed!

Good Day Readers:

Two questions immediately came to mind:

(1) Who is Suzanne Cote?

(2) Perhaps even more revealing, how will she approach her predecessor's application for a judicial review before the Federal Court of Canada?

The first. Oscar, Hoskin & Harcourt is a very well-established, top drawer Montreal-based law firm that can command top dollar.
Suzanne Côté Ad. E., Partner, Litigation

Contact Information

Areas of Expertise

Bar Admission

Québec, 1981


  • Université Laval, LL.B.



English, French


Suzanne is a partner and the head of the Montréal litigation practice. She practises commercial litigation (breach of commercial contracts, representation of banks, bankruptcy and insolvency, shareholder disputes, Competition Act, various real estate matters including commercial leasing, manufacturer’s liability, class actions) as well as litigation in civil and administrative matters, such as judicial review before the Federal Courts and the investigation conducted by the Québec Court of Appeal regarding the removal from office of a judge of an inferior tribunal (Suzanne was then assisting the Court of Appeal).

She pleads before all jurisdictions: Superior Court of Québec, Québec Court of Appeal and  the Federal Courts. She has also appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada. 


  • Québec Bar Association
  • Canadian Bar Association

Industry Recognition

  • Best Lawyers in Canada 2013 in Corporate and Commercial Litigation
  • Benchmark Litigation Canada 2012: a Litigation Star – Québec
  • Named a BTI Client Service All-Star in 2011
  • Recognized by The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory 2010, as a leading practitioner in the areas of corporate commercial litigation, directors’ and officiers’ liability and class action litigation
  • PLC’s Cross-border Dispute Resolution Handbook 2009/10.
  • The Best Lawyers in Canada 2011 in corporate and commercial litigation
  • Lexpert/American Lawyer Media publication, A Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada 2010
  • The 2010 Chambers Global’s The World’s Leading Lawyers for Business, as a recommended lawyer in Dispute Resolution in Québec
  • The 2010 Lexpert Guide to the Leading Canada/US Cross-Border Litigation Lawyers in Canada, in the areas of Corporate Commercial, Class Action and Securities
  • Le Monde Juridique 2008: "Litigator of the Year"
  • Featured in Lexpert magazine’s September 2003 article, “Canada’s Top 25 Women Lawyers”
  • Suzanne became a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers in March 2005

Pro Bono/Community Work

  • Member of the Board of Directors of the Fondation Jean Duceppe
  • Suzanne teaches evidence and civil representation at the École du Barreau du Québec
  • She was for many years involved in the organization of the annual Moot Court for the Guy Guérin Cup, which is the provincial competition leading to the Sopinka Cup
Regarding the second. What will happen to Guy "The Cat" Pratte's application before The Federal Court of Canada that Inquiry Counsel George "The New Rocky" Macintosh's cross-examination of Thompson Dorfman Sweatman Senior Managing Partner Michael Sinclair and Jack "Polaroid" King be struck from the record plus "TNR" not be allowed to cross-examine any remaining witnesses?

Will she allow it to die a natural death or re-file? That will be a defining moment for the role of an "Independent" Counsel. Who won the power struggle - Committee Members or Independent Counsel? If you're a betting person place your money on the Committee.

Finally, how was Madame Cote selected? Were any other candidates interviewed? Unfortunately, these are questions to which taxpayers will never have answers.

Wonder what "The Cat's" thinking right about now?

Clare L. Pieuk

New Independent Counsel appointed in the matter concerning the Honourable Lori Douglas

Ottawa, 27 September 2012 –The Canadian Judicial Council has announced the appointment of a new Independent Counsel in the matter concerning the Honourable Lori Douglas.

The Honourable Neil Wittmann, Vice-Chairperson of the Judicial Conduct Committee of Council, has appointed Ms Suzanne Côté, a partner at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, to serve as Independent Counsel in accordance with the By-laws of the Council. The appointment is effective immediately.

The mandate of Independent Counsel is to present the case to the Inquiry Committee reviewing this matter. This means ensuring all allegations made against the judge can be considered by the Inquiry Committee. All relevant evidence, both favourable and unfavourable to the judge, must be presented so that clear conclusions can be drawn about the judge's ability to discharge the duties of judicial office. All this evidence must be disclosed to the judge, who has a right to be heard at the hearing, to cross-examine witnesses and to adduce evidence on her own behalf.

Independent Counsel are expected to act within the parameters of the mandate given at the time of appointment. However, once appointed, they receive no instructions in regard to the allegations against the judge. They decide, in their own judgement, how to present the case and conduct themself, in keeping with the public interest.

To preserve the integrity of the process, and in accordance with our By-laws and policies, a certain number of Council members take no part in any of the proceedings leading up to, and including, the proceedings before the Inquiry Committee. Chief Justice Wittmann, who in his capacity of Vice-chairperson of the Judicial Conduct Committee of Council first reviewed this matter when a complaint was received by the Council, continues to be responsible for certain aspects of the procedure, including the appointment of Independent Counsel. In discharging his duties in this respect, Chief Justice Wittmann acts alone and takes no direction from the Inquiry Committee or from other Council members.

This clear division of responsibilities, within the Canadian Judicial Council, ensures that the review of allegations against judges remains fair at all times. When an Inquiry Committee completes its work, only Council members who have not participated in the process until that time are called upon to review the matter and make a report to the Minister of Justice.


Norman Sabourin
Executive Director and Senior General Counsel
(613) 288-1566 ext 313


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