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Dramatis Personae in legal decisions

Now that the Master’s is done (surreal!) and I’ve had a few months of watching dumb horror movies, reading comics and playing various flavours of Magic: The Gathering online, I’m starting to poke at self-directed legal research again.

I’m starting with picking up my rejected original premise for my Master’s — puffery is fascinating, by God, and I will not be deterred from poking at it with a big dumb stick even if no serious legal academic on the planet thinks it’s worth doing.

But — as somebody who is eminently easily distracted — I almost immediately got detoured into interesting turns of phrases in some of the cases I was reading in CanLII where puffery is mentioned.

One of these,

Alcamo v. Walt, 2022 ONSC 1913 (CanLII)1https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2022/2022onsc1913/2022onsc1913.html is a riveting read in and of itself. But I was immediately struck by the use of the phrase Dramatis Personae, which I’d never seen in a legal decision before, to establish the various parties in the case. A quick search of CanLII later, and there are only 49 decisions in the database (which only reaches back to the early 2000s, but still, it’s 18+ years and 3,000,000+ decisions) that use that specific string.

What are they, and who are they by? There’s only a trickle before 2008, and then they start occurring more frequently…

2008

Fantl v. Transamerica Life Canada, 2008 CanLII 17304 (ON SC)2https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2008/2008canlii17304/2008canlii17304.html
Perell J

2010

Alberta (Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, Director) v. Z.G., 2010 ABPC 7 (CanLII)3https://www.canlii.org/en/ab/abpc/doc/2010/2010abpc7/2010abpc7.html
A.H. Lefever

Steinhoff (Re), 2010 IIROC 8 (CanLII)4https://www.canlii.org/en/ca/caiiroc/doc/2010/2010iiroc8/2010iiroc8.html
Getz, Lay, Treatro

Galustian v. Skylink Group of Companies Inc., 2010 ONCA 645 (CanLII)5https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onca/doc/2010/2010onca645/2010onca645.html
Watt JA

2011

R. v. Bayani, 2011 ONSC 5225 (CanLII)6https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2011/2011onsc5225/2011onsc5225.html
R. Clark J

2012

T.F. (Re), 2012 ABPC 5 (CanLII)7https://www.canlii.org/en/ab/abpc/doc/2012/2012abpc5/2012abpc5.html
Steven E. Lipton

McSherry v. Zimmer GMBH, 2012 ONSC 4113 (CanLII)8https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2012/2012onsc4113/2012onsc4113.html
Perell J

Arora v. Whirlpool Canada LP, 2012 ONSC 4642 (CanLII)9https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2012/2012onsc4642/2012onsc4642.html
Perell J

2013

Sekhon v. Aerocar Limousine Services Co-Operative Ltd., 2013 ONSC 542 (CanLII)10https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2013/2013onsc542/2013onsc542.html
Perell J

D.J. (Re), 2013 ABPC 99 (CanLII)11https://www.canlii.org/en/ab/abpc/doc/2013/2013abpc99/2013abpc99.html
Steven E. Lipton

2014

R v Fast, 2014 SKQB 84 (CanLII)12https://www.canlii.org/en/sk/skqb/doc/2014/2014skqb84/2014skqb84.html
Danyliuk J
“This case is about unscrupulous business practices, criminal schemes to make money, greed, and human nature.” — hot dang I like it when the justices get a little Grishamy in their headnotes.

Fontaine v. Canada (Attorney General), 2014 ONSC 4585 (CanLII)13https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2014/2014onsc4585/2014onsc4585.html
Perell J

2015

R v. Beauchamp, 2015 ONCA 260 (CanLII)14https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onca/doc/2015/2015onca260/2015onca260.html
Cronk, Blair and Watt JJ.A.

2016

Pev International Research & Development Incorporated (Re), 2016 NSUARB 88 (CanLII)15https://www.canlii.org/en/ns/nsuarb/doc/2016/2016nsuarb88/2016nsuarb88.html
Roberta J. Clarke, Q.C., Member

Kowalyshyn v Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc., 2016 ONSC 3819 (CanLII)16https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2016/2016onsc3819/2016onsc3819.html
Perell J

Dhudwal v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2016 FC 1124 (CanLII)17https://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/2016/2016fc1124/2016fc1124.html
Mr. Justice Harrington

2017

907687 Ontario Inc. (International Institute of Travel) v. 1472359 Ontario Ltd (IBT College of Business Travel & Tourism Technology), 2017 FC 969 (CanLII)18https://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/2017/2017fc969/2017fc969.html
Fothergill J

2018

4075447 Canada Inc v Pacrim Developments Inc, 2018 ABQB 358 (CanLII)19https://www.canlii.org/en/ab/abqb/doc/2018/2018abqb358/2018abqb358.html
Robertson AR QC

Hallman Construction Ltd. v Cambridge (City), 2018 CanLII 70303 (ON LPAT) [Local Planning Appeal Tribunal]20https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onlpat/doc/2018/2018canlii70303/2018canlii70303.html
Swinkin, Douglas – Tribunal members

2019

Fortress Carlyle Peter St. Inc. v. Ricki’s Construction and Painting Inc, 2019 ONSC 1507 (CanLII)21https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2019/2019onsc1507/2019onsc1507.html
Perell J

Signature Realty Inc. o/a Royal Lepage Signature Realty v. Fallico, 2020 ONSC 1117 (CanLII)22https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2020/2020onsc1117/2020onsc1117.html
Perell J

Children’s Aid Society of Algoma v. L.G., 2020 ONCJ 297 (CanLII)23https://www.canlii.org/en/on/oncj/doc/2020/2020oncj297/2020oncj297.html
Kukurin J

2021

Peters v. SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., 2021 ONSC 5021 (CanLII)24https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2021/2021onsc5021/2021onsc5021.html
Perell J

Barkley v. Tier 1 Capital Management Inc., 2022 ONSC 175 (CanLII)25https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2022/2022onsc175/2022onsc175.html
Perell J

2022

Fehr v. Gribilas, 2022 ONSC 275 (CanLII)26https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2022/2022onsc275/2022onsc275.html
Perell J

Riha v. A. Wilford Professional Corporation, 2022 ONSC 1110 (CanLII)27https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2022/2022onsc1110/2022onsc1110.html
Perell J

Alcamo v. Walt, 2022 ONSC 1913 (CanLII)28https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2022/2022onsc1913/2022onsc1913.html
Perell J

Park Lawn Corp. v. Kahu Capital Partners Ltd., 2022 ONSC 3341 (CanLII)29https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2022/2022onsc3341/2022onsc3341.html
Perell J

Raponi v. Olympia Trust Company, 2022 ONSC 4481 (CanLII)30https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2022/2022onsc4481/2022onsc4481.html
Perell J


The attentive reader will notice a trend — Perell J, whose Alcamo decision got me on this groove in the first place, holds the strong plurality for the use of the phrase. It also seems to come up in Alberta more than anywhere else after Ontario (on review, it looks like almost all ON, several AB and a single SK use).

On Perell J’s frequent use, it occurred to me that I’m not a lawyer and will not be one; I’ll never appear before Justice Perell in court as a lawyer (and hopefully not in other contexts). I’m not a full-time legal academic. I’m just a curious person with a lot of intersecting interests in law. So I don’t really have to worry about my reputation or what he thinks of me.

So I emailed him to ask why this turn of phrase? Because I find it accessible, engaging, and even narratively strong. But it also feels a bit flip, and even cynical, to position the people on both sides of a legal dispute as “actors”. It’s a curious phrase, and it made me curious.

If he writes back, and is inclined to give me permission to share his thoughts on the use of the phrase, I’ll update here. If not, so it goes — a passing observation.

  • 1
    https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2022/2022onsc1913/2022onsc1913.html
  • 2
    https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2008/2008canlii17304/2008canlii17304.html
  • 3
    https://www.canlii.org/en/ab/abpc/doc/2010/2010abpc7/2010abpc7.html
  • 4
    https://www.canlii.org/en/ca/caiiroc/doc/2010/2010iiroc8/2010iiroc8.html
  • 5
    https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onca/doc/2010/2010onca645/2010onca645.html
  • 6
    https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2011/2011onsc5225/2011onsc5225.html
  • 7
    https://www.canlii.org/en/ab/abpc/doc/2012/2012abpc5/2012abpc5.html
  • 8
    https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2012/2012onsc4113/2012onsc4113.html
  • 9
    https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2012/2012onsc4642/2012onsc4642.html
  • 10
    https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2013/2013onsc542/2013onsc542.html
  • 11
    https://www.canlii.org/en/ab/abpc/doc/2013/2013abpc99/2013abpc99.html
  • 12
    https://www.canlii.org/en/sk/skqb/doc/2014/2014skqb84/2014skqb84.html
  • 13
    https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2014/2014onsc4585/2014onsc4585.html
  • 14
    https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onca/doc/2015/2015onca260/2015onca260.html
  • 15
    https://www.canlii.org/en/ns/nsuarb/doc/2016/2016nsuarb88/2016nsuarb88.html
  • 16
    https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2016/2016onsc3819/2016onsc3819.html
  • 17
    https://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/2016/2016fc1124/2016fc1124.html
  • 18
    https://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/2017/2017fc969/2017fc969.html
  • 19
    https://www.canlii.org/en/ab/abqb/doc/2018/2018abqb358/2018abqb358.html
  • 20
    https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onlpat/doc/2018/2018canlii70303/2018canlii70303.html
  • 21
    https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2019/2019onsc1507/2019onsc1507.html
  • 22
    https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2020/2020onsc1117/2020onsc1117.html
  • 23
    https://www.canlii.org/en/on/oncj/doc/2020/2020oncj297/2020oncj297.html
  • 24
    https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2021/2021onsc5021/2021onsc5021.html
  • 25
    https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2022/2022onsc175/2022onsc175.html
  • 26
    https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2022/2022onsc275/2022onsc275.html
  • 27
    https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2022/2022onsc1110/2022onsc1110.html
  • 28
    https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2022/2022onsc1913/2022onsc1913.html
  • 29
    https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2022/2022onsc3341/2022onsc3341.html
  • 30
    https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2022/2022onsc4481/2022onsc4481.html

By mattshepherd

I love your story.
You’ve got one. Everybody does. Storytelling is what makes people people, and it’s what makes organizations succeed or fail.
For 40-odd years, I’ve been in love with stories, and I’ve spent a lifetime building structures to help people tell them.