Sean Griffin

Partner
Key practice areas
Litigation and Dispute Resolution, Financial Institutions and Financial Services Law, Internal and Regulatory Investigations, Compliance and White Collar Defence, Securities Litigation, Constitutional Law
Québec Bar 2007

Sean Griffin is a partner in the Litigation group and a member of the firm’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors.

His practice focuses on high-profile complex litigation involving commercial, constitutional, and administrative law issues as well as corporate and securities matters. With recognized legal and trial expertise in defending public and private corporations, financial institutions, broker-dealers and various corporate entities, including their directors and officers, Sean represents his clientele in a wide variety of civil and statutory proceedings, including general commercial litigation, class actions, regulatory investigations and disciplinary matters. He also acts as strategic advisor to several clients on issues involving governance and regulatory compliance.

Sean is recognized as an elite litigator and trial lawyer with exceptional advocacy skills both in English and French. In 2022, he was named Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America following a rigorous selection process based on excellence and achievement in litigation, both at the trial and appellate levels, as well as a strong ethical reputation.

Recent cases and judgments

  • In 2019, Sean acted for the Chief Justices of the Superior Court of Québec before a bench of seven judges of the Québec Court of Appeal in connection with a reference on the jurisdiction of the Civil Division of the Court of Québec. The ensuing landmark decision addresses the historical role of the superior courts in Canada and the constitutional protection of their fundamental jurisdiction (2019 QCCA 1492). In September 2020, Sean successfully pleaded the case before the Supreme Court of Canada (Reference re Code of Civil Procedure (Que.), art. 35, 2021 SCC 27).
  • In 2019, in the IMTT-Québec Inc. case before the Québec Court of Appeal (2019 QCCA 1598), Sean acted for the Québec Port Authority and IMTT, an industry leader in the handling and storage of bulk liquid products. In a landmark constitutional decision, the Québec Court of Appeal found that several sections of the provincial environmental legislation did not apply to federal lands and properties nor to the activities of IMTT.
  • In the high-profile case of Truchon (2019 QCCS 3792), Sean acted for two non-profit organizations supporting the plaintiffs in the constitutional challenge to the limitations on medically assisted death in provincial and federal legislation. Québec’s Superior Court invalidated the impugned provisions, such that the federal and provincial governments are currently amending legislation to comply with the decision.
  • In Duchesneau (2019 QCCA 791), Sean successfully defended Laurentian Bank Securities before the Québec Court of Appeal against allegations of negligence in the context of offshore investments.
  • Sean acted for National Bank of Canada in five different jurisdictions in the context of pan-Canadian class action proceedings alleging price-fixing of interchange fees. In that context, the British Columbia Court of Appeal (2019 BCCA 308), the Québec Court of Appeal (2019 QCCA 1465), the Ontario Court of Appeal (2019 ONCA 822, bench of five judges) the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal (2020 SKCA 7) and the Alberta Court of appeal (2021 ABCA 40) each rendered highly important decisions for class action practitioners and courts across the country. The decisions notably touch upon the appeal rights of class members following the court approval of a settlement agreement and the validity of releases that cover future claims based on continuing and future conduct. The Supreme Court has dismissed leave applications.
  • In Haroch (2019 QCCS 5649, 2021 QCCA 1504), the Superior Court and the Court of Appeal of Québec dismissed a class action alleging improper prepayment of mortgage fees against multiple financial institutions. Sean acts for National Bank of Canada.
  • In the Lovaganza file (2020 QCCS 600), Sean acted for the largest bailiffs’ firms in Québec. The Superior Court dismissed a class action alleging professional negligence of the firm in the context of administrative proceedings that would have led to an international fraud and transfer of monies outside of Canada.
  • In Vihar Hospitality Inc. c. Norael Corp. (2022 QCCA 509), Sean acted for Norael Corp. in a commercial lease dispute in which the parties disagreed as to the option contract for the purchase of emphyteutic rights. The Court of Appeal decided in favour of Norael in a landmark case that established the conditions of an emphyteusis.
  • In Tessier c. Desjardins Groupe d'assurances générales inc. (2022 QCCS 714, 2023 QCCA 688), the Superior Court and the Court of Appeal dismissed a class action alleging that the discounts payable by contractors to insurers should be disclosed to insureds as it is an “important fact” under the Consumer Protection Act. Sean acted for three insurers. The case is now before the Québec Court of Appeal.
  • On January 18, 2023, Sean pleaded before the Supreme Court of Canada in the context of administrative proceedings commenced by the AMF for alleged market manipulation by foreign residents. The decision rendered by the Supreme Court is the first to determine the private international law rules applicable to the jurisdiction of the Financial Markets Administrative Tribunal of Québec and other provincial administrative tribunals (Sharp v. Autorité des marchés financiers, 2023 SCC 29).
  • In 2023 and 2024, alongside a Langlois team, Sean represented the federally appointed military judges before the Military Judges Compensation Committee and the provincially nominated municipal judges before the Provincial Remuneration Committee.
  • In Services maritimes Québec inc. c. Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales, Sean represented a stevedoring firm operating a Québec marine services facility in a constitutional dispute over the applicability and operability of the Private Security Act with respect to the firm and its activities. The case is now before the Supreme Court of Canada and will be heard in 2025 (2024 CanLII 25746 (SCC)).
  • Chambers Canada – Litigation: General Commercial, 2024
  • Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory:
    • Litigation (Corporate Commercial), 2021-2024
    • Litigation (Securities), 2021-2024
    • Class Actions, 2023-2024
  • Benchmark Litigation Canada:
    • Litigation Star,  2019-2024
    • Local Litigation Star, 2018
  • Best Lawyers in Canada:
    • Corporate and Commercial Litigation, 2021-2024
    • Class Action Litigation, 2022-2024
    • Appellate Practice, 2024
  • Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America, since 2022
  • Thomson Reuters Stand-out Lawyers, 2022, 2023
  • Canadian Law Awards 2020 – Nominated as Litigator of the Year, 2020
  • Québec's Federation of chambers of commerce, Member of the Financial Services, Capital and Economy Committee, since 2024
  • The Advocates’ Society, Member
  • Chair: Colloque sur les développements récents en droit des enquêtes réglementaires et internes [Recent Developments in Regulatory and Internal Investigation Conference], organized by the Québec Bar, 2024.
  • Co-speaker: Meilleures pratiques – enquêtes internes [Best practices – Internal investigations], workshop for a client, Montréal, November 30, 2023.
  • Chair: Colloque sur les développements récents en litige des valeurs mobilières [Symposium on recent developments in securities litigation], organized by the Québec Bar, 2023.
  • Co-speaker: Les obligations d’information prévues à la LPC et la LVM : similarités, différences et dialogues [Similarities and differences between disclosure requirements under the Consumer Protection Act and the Securities Act], Recent developments in securities litigation, Montréal, October 19, 2023.
  • Chair: Colloque sur les développements récents en droit des enquêtes réglementaires et internes [Recent Developments in Regulatory and Internal Investigation Conference], organized by the Québec Bar, 2022.
  • Co-speaker: Nevsun and Beyond: Canadian Corporations Face Increased Liability Risk for Human Rights Abuses Committed Abroad, Recent Developments in Regulatory and Internal Investigation, organized by the Québec Bar, November 18, 2021.
  • Chair: Colloque sur les développements récents en droit des enquêtes réglementaires et internes [Recent Developments in Regulatory and Internal Investigation Conference], organized by the Québec Bar, 2019.
  • Co-speaker and organizer: It’s Been a Privilege: Recent Developments on Litigation Privilege in the Context of Internal Investigations, Recent Developments in Regulatory and Internal Investigation, organized by the Québec Bar, Montréal, April 12, 2019.
  • Co-speaker: Bourse de Montréal: une bourse et un organisme d’autoréglementation [The Montréal Exchange: an exchange and a regulator], Langlois Knowledge in collaboration with the Montréal Exchange, March 29, 2018.
  • Chair: Colloque sur les développements récents en litige des valeurs mobilières [Symposium on recent developments in securities litigation], organized by the Québec Bar, 2017.
  • Co-speaker: Introduction aux infractions prévues aux articles 187 et 188 de la Loi sur les valeurs mobilières du Québec [An introduction to offences under sections 187 and 188 of the Québec Securities Act], organized by the Québec Bar, December 1, 2017.
  • Speaker: Presentation on regulatory and internal investigations to the lawyers and compliance team members of a Canadian financial institution, November 2015.
  • Speaker: Presentation on regulatory and internal investigations at an annual conference on labour law, November 28, 2015.
  • Speaker: Presentation on governance and cybersecurity to the lawyers and compliance team members of a Canadian rail transportation company, June 2015.
  • Speaker: Presentation on the most significant commercial litigation decisions in 2014, at the annual convention of the Québec Bar, June 12, 2015.
  • Speaker: Presentation on governance and cybersecurity to the members of the Association of Corporate Counsels, June 2015.
  • Speaker: Presentation on regulatory and internal investigations at the annual meeting of a Canadian insurance company, May 2015.
  • Speaker: Presentation on governance and cybersecurity to the lawyers and compliance team members of a Canadian financial institution, May 2015.
  • Speaker: Presentation on governance, crisis management and cybersecurity to over 150 lawyers of a Canadian insurance company (annual international conference), May 2015.
  • Speaker: Presentation on governance and cybersecurity to the lawyers and compliance team members of the largest cooperative group in Canada, May 2015.

Leadership in Law Firms Program, Harvard Law School, Cambridge (Massachusetts), 2023

LL.B., Civil Law, Université Laval, 2006

Legal studies – Université Panthéon-Assas, Paris II, France, 2005

Master’s level studies – Philosophy – Laval University, 2003

Master’s level studies – Philosophy – St-Joseph University, Beirut, 2002

B.A. Double major, Literature and Philosophy, McGill University, 2000