B.C. court sends wrongful dismissal suit against large Canadian bank to Hong Kong

By James Langton | July 15, 2022 | Last updated on July 15, 2022
2 min read
Royal Bank of Canada storefront sign in a Downtown rural sreet of small town Canadian city of Brighton near Pesquile Lake Provincial Park in the summer cloudy and sunny day stock photo
iStock/Jeff Kingma

A British Columbia court has declined to hear a wrongful dismissal suit against RBC Dominion Securities Inc., ruling that the case needs to be heard in Hong Kong where the events in question took place.

The Supreme Court of B.C. granted an application from RBC DS and Royal Bank of Canada, which asked the court to rule that a $3.9 million wrongful dismissal lawsuit brought by a former executive, David Tims, should be adjudicated in Hong Kong.

In Tims v. Royal Bank of Canada, Justice Peter Edelmann said the plaintiff was “dismissed from a management position with the defendant companies in Hong Kong” amid allegations of sexual harassment.

He is now suing the firm alleging that he was wrongfully dismissed.

“He claims damages for wrongful dismissal, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment, seeking both common and aggravated damages in an amount of at least $3.9 million,” the court said in its ruling released July 12.

None of the allegations have been proven.

The defendants in the case asked the B.C. court to decline jurisdiction over the case, arguing that Hong Kong “is clearly the more appropriate forum.”

The plaintiff had worked for RBC in Vancouver before agreeing, in 2018, to be assigned to Hong Kong for a three-year term in a management position, at the end of which he would return to his previous position in Vancouver.

Justice Edelmann acknowledged that there are factors favouring litigation in Canada, including “that there would be significantly greater inconvenience to the plaintiff litigating in Hong Kong than there would be to the defendants litigating in British Columbia.”

However, the court also found that most of the firms’ witnesses are based in Hong Kong, including most of the participants in the internal and external investigations that led to the dismissal, and that they would “face significant expenses, as well as professional and personal inconvenience if asked to testify at a trial in British Columbia.”

Ultimately, the court stayed the proceedings in B.C., saying that “the connections to Hong Kong in the underlying facts are overwhelming.”

“Ultimately, I do not find there to be a significant unfairness to the plaintiff having to litigate the termination of his employment in the place where he was employed and where the alleged conduct leading to his termination occurred,” Justice Edelmann concluded.

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James Langton

James is a senior reporter for Advisor.ca and its sister publication, Investment Executive. He has been reporting on regulation, securities law, industry news and more since 1994.