Murphy Oil Co. v. Predator Corp. (2006), 384 A.R. 251 (CA);

    367 W.A.C. 251

MLB headnote and full text

Temp. Cite: [2006] A.R. TBEd. MR.033

Murphy Oil Company Ltd., Apache Canada Ltd. and Murphy Canada Exploration Ltd. (plaintiffs) v. The Predator Corporation Ltd., Ricks Nova Scotia Co., and Predator Energies Partnership, Blair Longdo, Robert V. Shields, and Gerry O’Reilly (defendants)

The Predator Corporation Ltd., Blair Longdo, Robert V. Shields and Gerry O’Reilly (plaintiffs by counterclaim/appellants) v. Murphy Oil Company Ltd., Apache Canada Ltd., and Murphy Canada Exploration Ltd., Harvey Doerr and Floyd Price (defendants by counterclaim/respondents)

(0401-0321-AC; 2006 ABCA 69)

Indexed As: Murphy Oil Co. et al. v. Predator Corp. et al.

Alberta Court of Appeal

McFadyen, Hunt and Ritter, JJ.A.

February 28, 2006.


Defendants by counterclaim applied for summary judgment.

The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, in a decision reported at 365 A.R. 326, allowed the application in part. The plaintiffs by counterclaim appealed.

The Alberta Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal.

Practice – Topic 5715

Judgments and orders – Summary judgments – Burden on applicant – A chambers judge summarized the principles to be applied on a summary judgment application as follows: “1. A party bringing a motion for summary judgment bears the legal onus of showing no genuine issue for trial. 2. There is no onus on the responding party to prove a genuine issue for trial. 3. If the applicant for summary judgment discharges his/her onus on the material filed, a respondent who does not resist the application through admissible evidence risks judgment against him/her. That is an evidentiary burden. 4. There is no obligation on the respondent to file material. He/she can accept the risk described above. If the applicant fails to discharge his/her legal onus, the application will fail. 5. More commonly a respondent will provide admissible evidence opposing the motion. In that event, the court will consider all the evidence to determine whether the applicant has shown that there is no genuine issue for trial.” – The Alberta Court of Appeal stated that it had approved the test encapsulated by the chambers judge in prior decisions – See paragraphs 24 to 29.

Practice – Topic 5715.1

Judgments and orders – Summary judgments – Burden on respondent – [See
Practice – Topic 5715

Torts – Topic 5099

Interference with economic relations – Conspiracy – Evidence and proof – A chambers judge stated that “On an application for summary judgment the plaintiff must show that it has a factual basis for its assertion that the conduct was in furtherance of a conspiracy. It is insufficient that the conduct could have been the result of the conspiracy where the conduct is easily explained by lawful motives … Nor does the pursuit of legitimate business goals for the predominant purpose of economic advancement constitute a conspiracy, even if it may have caused the complaining party to suffer injury … Additionally, an inference that defendants entered into an agreement to injure the plaintiff or commit an unlawful act may only be drawn where the facts do not fairly admit of any other inference … ” – The chamber’s judge found that the evidence before him permitted one objective inference only: that the applicants’ predominant purpose was to protect their own interests in the field and that such actions were lawful – Accordingly, the applicants had established that there was no genuine issue for trial in relation to the conspiracy claims – The Alberta Court of Appeal upheld the decision, stating that the conclusions were far from unreasonable.

Cases Noticed:

Housen v. Nikolaisen et al., [2002] 2 S.C.R. 235; 286 N.R. 1; 219 Sask.R. 1; 272 W.A.C. 1; 2002 SCC 33, refd to. [para. 23].

Wolfert et al. v. Shuchuk et al., [2003] A.R. Uned. 157; 15 Alta. L.R.(4th) 5; 2003 ABCA 109, refd to. [para. 23].

Boudreault v. Barrett et al. (1998), 219 A.R. 67; 179 W.A.C. 67; 1998 ABCA 232, refd to. [para. 24].

Prefontaine v. Veale et al. (2003), 339 A.R. 340; 312 W.A.C. 340; 2003 ABCA 367, refd to. [para. 24].

Liu v. Tangirala et al., [2004] A.R. Uned. 74; 131 A.C.W.S.(3d) 627; 2004 ABCA 171, refd to. [para. 24].

Watts Estate et al. v. Contact Canada Tourism Services Ltd. et al. (2000), 261 A.R. 66; 225 W.A.C. 66; 2000 ABCA 160, refd to. [para. 25].

Pioneer Exploration Inc. Estate (Bankrupt) v. Euro-Am Pacific Enterprises Ltd. (2003), 339 A.R. 165; 312 W.A.C. 165; 2003 ABCA 298, refd to. [para. 25].

732311 Alberta Ltd. v. Paradise Bay Spa & Tub Warehouse Inc. et al. (2003), 339 A.R. 386; 312 W.A.C. 386; 2003 ABCA 362, refd to. [para. 25].

Hercules Management Ltd. et al. v. Ernst & Young et al., [1997] 2 S.C.R. 165; 211 N.R. 352; 115 Man.R.(2d) 241; 139 W.A.C. 241, refd to. [para. 26].

Guarantee Co. of North America v. Gordon Capital Corp., [1999] 3 S.C.R. 423; 247 N.R. 97; 126 O.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 26].

Crystalline Investments Ltd. v. Domgroup Ltd., [2004] 1 S.C.R. 60; 316 N.R. 1; 184 O.A.C. 33; 2004 SCC 3, refd to. [para. 26].

Torquay Hotel Co. v. Cousins, [1969] 2 Ch. 106 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 35].

Canada Cement LaFarge Ltd. et al. v. British Columbia Lightweight Aggregate Ltd. et al., [1983] 1 S.C.R. 452; 47 N.R. 191, refd to. [para. 36].

Scandinavian Bank v. Shuman (1917), 37 D.L.R. 419 (Alta. C.A.), refd to. [para. 38].

Chrusciel v. Nelson Lumber Co. (1991), 48 C.L.R. 104 (Alta. Q.B. Master), refd to. [para. 40].

Brosseau (Georges R.) Professional Corp. v. Condominium Plan No. 762 1095 Owners (1986), 74 A.R. 362 (Q.B. Master), refd to. [para. 40].

Chalmers et al. v. Highland Park Financial Inc. et al. (2000), 145 Man.R.(2d) 174; 218 W.A.C. 174 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 44].

Mikisew Cree First Nation v. Canada et al. (2002), 303 A.R. 43; 273 W.A.C. 43; 2002 ABCA 110, refd to. [para. 51].

Syncrude Canada Ltd. et al. v. Canadian Bechtel Ltd. et al. (1994), 149 A.R. 54; 63 W.A.C. 54 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 51].

Deboer v. Raymaker (Darryl J.) Professional Corp. et al. (2004), 357 A.R. 182; 334 W.A.C. 182; 2004 ABCA 326, refd to. [para. 51].


R.A. Coad, Q.C., for The Predator Corporation Ltd., Blair Longdo, Robert V. Shields and Gerry O’Reilly, the plaintiffs by counterclaim/appellants;

J.J. Marshall, Q.C., and R.F. Smith, for Murphy Oil Company Ltd., Murphy Canada Exploration Ltd. and Harvey Doerr, the defendants by counterclaim/respondents;

D.J. Cichy and K.R. Anderson, for Apache Canada Ltd. and Floyd Price.

This appeal was heard on December 7, 2005, by McFadyen, Hunt and Ritter, JJ.A., of the Alberta Court of Appeal, who delivered the following memorandum of judgment on February 28, 2006.


Murphy Oil Co. et al. v. Predator Corp. et al.

(2006), 384 A.R. 251 (CA)

Court of Appeal (Alberta)
Reading Time:
19 minutes
Hunt, McFadyen, Ritter 

By the Court
: This appeal concerns competitive activities in the natural gas industry. The appellants and the respondents each allege that the others have exceeded the bounds of appropriate conduct within that industry.

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