Advisor duo will sue major industry player

An Ontario court has ruled in favour of a pair of advisors filing a lawsuit against their former firm.

Two advisors will sue a top industry firm after an Ontario court ruled in their favour on Friday.

The pair – Michael and Robert Sells – claims Manulife Securities Inc. defamed them by allegedly making false accusations against them in their uniform termination notices (UTNs), which, they say, could have prevented them from finding employment. They are also alleging that Manulife did not comply with securities law when filing the UTNs.

Ontario's Superior Court of Justice rejected a motion by Manulife to dismiss the suit, stating that there was a dispute among facts in the case between the advisors and the firm.

“In my view, given this significant factual dispute and this court’s discretion not to decide a question of law raised in the pleading which is dependent upon an adequate factual foundation, there is no realistic advantage achieved in deciding this question without a trial,” the Hon. Justice Nightingale said in a decision statement.

The court also determined that Manulife failed to provide proof that action taken against the firm would not succeed even if the allegations were proven true, and that an IIROC hearing would not rule in the advisors’ favour, claiming damages against the firm.

“The onus is on Manulife to show that it is plain and obvious that the plaintiffs cannot succeed in their claim even if the facts alleged are proven,” Nightingale said. “… In my view, Manulife has not met that high burden of proof.”

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