Toronto pension firm sues Scotiabank over pension plan for doctors

By Michael McKiernan | March 1, 2024 | Last updated on March 1, 2024
3 min read
Gavel, scales, law books on desk
AdobeStock / Sebastian Duda

Toronto-based pension provider Blue Pier Administration Corp. is suing the Bank of Nova Scotia for $700 million, claiming the bank’s physician-focused Medicus Pension Plan was built on the back of confidential information supplied by Blue Pier.

Blue Pier founder James Pierlot opened discussions with Scotiabank in 2019 with a view to partnering on his idea for an independent multi-employer pension plan (MEPP) aimed at incorporated medical professionals and their staff, according to a statement of claim filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Toronto on Tuesday.

The claim says both parties entered a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before Pierlot shared several documents — including financial projections, legal correspondence and business information — that the claim describes as a road map for establishing a for-profit, independent MEPP.

Pierlot heard nothing more from Scotiabank before Blue Pier launched its product for self-employed doctors in November 2020, the claim says. Scotiabank and its subsidiary MD Financial Management eventually announced their own plans for Medicus in March 2022, before formally opening operations in May 2023.

“The defendants took the Blue Pier confidential information and used it as the basis for the Medicus Pension Plan, for their own benefit, and in breach of the NDA,” the claim alleges. “As a result, Blue Pier has suffered damages,” which the claim estimates at $700 million.

Katie O’Dell, a spokesperson for Scotiabank and MD Financial, said the bank would not be commenting on the case.

Blue Pier is seeking an additional $3 million in punitive damages, alleging in the claim that the defendants “took advantage of their unequal bargaining power to misappropriate [Blue Pier]’s confidential information and used it to enrich themselves.”

None of the allegations in the statement of claim, which also lists Scotiabank subsidiary MD Financial Management as a co-defendant, have been proven in court.

While MEPPs in Canada are typically linked to public-sector employers or major unions, the claim says Pierlot was inspired to create Blue Pier in 2014 by examples in the U.K. and Australia.

According to the claim, Blue Pier approached Scotiabank as part of its search for an established financial institution to support the marketing and distribution for its independent MEPP, which would be open to incorporated physicians and medical clinics and governed by a board of trustees.

Of the confidential information turned over to Scotiabank, Blue Pier’s claim attributes particular significance to correspondence between its former legal counsel and the Canada Revenue Agency, indicating the CRA would likely allow a defined-benefit independent MEPP of this sort to be registered under the Income Tax Act.

Met with Scotiabank’s silence, Blue Pier went ahead on its own to launch an independent MEPP for physicians in late 2020, the claim says. However, the product has received limited enrolment, and Blue Pier blamed its insufficient capital for effectively marketing the idea, as well as Covid-19-related pressures on the health-care industry.

Both Pierlot and his lawyer declined to be interviewed about the case: “We have no comment at this time while the matter is before the courts,” Pierlot wrote in an email to

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Michael McKiernan

Michael is a freelance legal affairs reporter who has been covering law and business since 2010.