Canada > Leading tax law firms

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  1. Canada – Leading tax law firms
  2. Canada - TDH500
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Canada - TDH500

  1. 1
    • Firoz Ahmed - Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP
    • Jacques Bernier - Baker & McKenzie
    • Douglas Cannon - McCarthy Tétrault
    • Chia-yi Chua - McCarthy Tétrault
    • Ian Crosbie - Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP
    • Guy Du Pont Ad E - Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP
    • Ron Durand - Stikeman Elliott LLP
    • Jehad Haymour - Dentons
    • Edwin Kroft QC - Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP
    • Wilfrid Lefebvre QC - Norton Rose Fulbright
    • John Lorito - Stikeman Elliott LLP
    • Al Meghji - Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP
    • Darcy Moch - Bennett Jones LLP
    • Gabrielle Richards - McCarthy Tétrault
    • Mitchell Sherman - Goodmans
    • Carrie Smit - Goodmans
    • Paul Tamaki - Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP
    • Richard Tremblay - Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP
    • Jeffrey Trossman - Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP
    • John Ulmer - Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP
    • Jim Wilson - PwC Law LLP
    • Jerald Wortsman - Torys

Creative, responsive and dedicated’, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP is said to have ‘a, if not the, leading tax practice in Canada’. The team is well-balanced across the firm’s national network, and offers specialist expertise in all key areas of taxation, including corporate tax, litigation and transfer pricing. In Toronto, practice lead Jeffrey Trossman ‘knows tax law inside and out’ and advised Anheuser-Busch InBev on its $417m acquisition of a portfolio of brands and related assets from the Mark Anthony Group of Companies. Transfer pricing expert Scott Wilkie and senior tax specialists Kathleen Penny and Paul Tamaki are also recommended in Toronto. In Calgary, Robert Kopstein led the tax advice to Suncor Energy in its C$6.6bn acquisition of Canadian Oil Sands. The Calgary tax group also teamed up with the Toronto group, under the leadership of Calgary-based Carrie Aiken, to advise TransCanada on its C$13.3bn acquisition of Columbia Pipeline Group, which included a C$4.4bn bought deal offering of subscription receipts. On the contentious side, tax controversy head Edwin Kroft QC acts out of the firm’s Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary offices and has a very active practice. The Montreal office was boosted in 2016 with the hires of François Auger and associate Julia Qian Wang from Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP.

Put simply, clients of Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLPcannot imagine working with any other firm’. Sources are particularly quick to commend the team’s ‘tax expertise, which is second to none’, and its ‘sincere client engagement’, with lawyers ‘acting as extensions of the in-house team’. The firm possesses a comprehensive tax practice, with strength in both corporate and contentious matters, and houses top-tier individuals in both its Toronto and Montreal offices. In Toronto, international tax expert John Ulmer is regarded as ‘the best in his field’; he advised RioCan REIT on Canadian and US tax matters connected to its $1.9bn sale of a portfolio of shopping centres to Blackstone Real Estate Partners. Raj Juneja had a banner year, which included advising Fortis on its $11.3bn acquisition of ITC Holdings. Stephen Ruby and ‘noted tax specialist’ Ian Crosbie are also key names in Toronto. In Montreal, ‘creative problem-solver’ Brian Bloom stands out for his ‘incredible knowledge of tax law’. Tax litigator Guy Du Pont Ad E is also a leader in the Montreal market and is representing Power Corporation of Canada in a significant capital gains tax case relating to venture capital investments.

Knowledgeable, solution-oriented and very responsive’, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP’s tax team ‘gives practical advice and finds practical solutions’. The group’s commercial approach is a major attraction for clients, who say lawyers ‘understand business constraints and come up with alternative suggestions’. The group saw several personnel changes in 2015/16. Most notably, commodity taxation specialist Alan Kenigsberg joined in Toronto from Stikeman Elliott LLP. Among the departures, François Auger and associate Julia Qian Wang went to Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP in Montreal, and Toronto-based Martha MacDonald joined Torys. In Toronto, department co-chair Firoz Ahmed is regarded as ‘without peer’ and advised Corus Entertainment on its C$2.6bn acquisition of Shaw Media from Shaw Communications. Also in Toronto, group co-chair Monica Biringer and ‘"go-to" guy for international tax matters’ Patrick Marley advised BMO Financial Group on its acquisition of GE Capital’s transportation finance business in the US and Canada. Calgary-based Edward Rowe is recommended for energy taxation and advised TransCanada PipeLines on the establishment of environmental trusts. On the contentious side, few tax specialists receive the level of acclaim of star litigator Al Meghji, who is ‘absolutely fantastic’. Seasoned specialist Richard Tremblay is also highly regarded for international tax matters.

The ‘impressive’ team at Goodmans is valued for its ‘very flexible and business-oriented approach’, and for its ‘in-depth tax knowledge’. The firm handles the full spectrum of corporate taxation matters, and leverages its market-leading insolvency practice to offer niche expertise in restructuring-related work. As a case in point, ‘very bright, quick, thorough and practical’ group head Carrie Smit advised an ad hoc committee of holders of Pacific Exploration’s senior unsecured notes on the tax aspects of its $5.4bn recapitalization transaction. In another headline mandate, Jon Northup and ‘very experienced specialist’ Mitchell Sherman advised InterOil on its $2.2bn acquisition by Oil Search. REIT matters are also a sweet spot and Northup acted for Revera and Welltower in their C$764m acquisition of Regal Lifestyle Communities. Other names to note include Jarrett Freeman, who has ‘excellent business acumen’, and Alan Bowman.

McCarthy Tétrault’s broad national practice has significant tax capability across its platforms in Toronto, Calgary, Montreal and Vancouver. In line with its top-tier banking practice, financial services deals are a specialist area of expertise, as are REITs, restructurings and traditional M&A. Toronto-based Douglas Cannon is highly regarded for transactional tax and along with Calgary’s Robert Nearing advised Bruce Power on the tax aspects of its landmark C$13bn investment program. Toronto-based Gabrielle Richards is also highly sought after for transactional matters and led the Canadian tax advice to GE Capital in the $32bn sale of its commercial distribution finance and vendor finance businesses to Wells Fargo. Other recommended names include Frédéric Harvey in Montreal and tax litigator Chia-yi Chua in Toronto.

Stikeman Elliott LLP’s tax practice has strong skill sets across a broad range of corporate tax matters, with international taxation, structured finance, transfer pricing, and commodity taxation all areas of expertise. Toronto group head John Lorito had a strong year and was involved in many of the department’s headline cases, most notably advising Sprott Asset Management on its C$1bn hostile takeover of Central GoldTrust, and acting for Progressive Waste Solutions in its acquisition by Waste Connections by way of a reverse merger. Other recommended partners are Toronto-based senior partner Ron Durand, Calgary-based energy taxation expert Douglas Richardson and Frank Mathieu in Montreal.

The tax practice at Bennett Jones LLP is ‘comparable to the major Bay Street firms’, according to sources, and its lawyers are praised for being ‘always willing to go above and beyond’. The Calgary-headquartered firm is of course well known for energy and natural resources related matters, but as is befitting of a major national firm, it has a diverse practice with strength across the full spectrum of transactional, planning and contentious matters. In Calgary, national co-chair Darcy Moch is a key name and advised Metalmark Capital on its C$525m acquisition, with Silvertree and the Kissner management team, of Kissner Milling and Kissner Group. Thomas Bauer co-chairs the group from Toronto and is ‘extremely responsive and professional’; he advised the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan on its C$3.3bn acquisition of Heritage Royalty.

Responsive and client-oriented’, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP’s team particularly impresses with its ‘unparalleled tax knowledge in the asset management space’. In Toronto, Steve Suarez is ‘very proactive and able to simplify difficult concepts’; he advised Ridley on its C$521m acquisition by Alltech. Also in Toronto, Stephen Fyfe is ‘extremely responsive and thorough’; he advised the chief financial officers of Hydro One Brampton, PowerStream, Enersource, and Horizon on the tax aspects of their C$3.6bn merger. Toronto-based Craig Webster is singled out for his ‘in-depth knowledge of tax and the investment management industry in Canada’.

Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP’s tax team excels in the mining, finance and energy spheres and it acts across the full range of planning and advocacy issues. Montreal-based Alain Ranger is very experienced and remains a key contact for transactional matters; he advised Groupe St-Hubert on its C$540m acquisition by Cara Operations. Christopher Steeves heads the national practice from Toronto and advised AuRico Gold on the tax aspects of its $1.5bn merger with Alamos Gold. Calgary-based litigator Curtis Stewart focuses exclusively on contentious tax issues and is also recommended. Respected Toronto partner Kathleen Hanly retired in 2015.

The ‘responsive and experienced’ tax department at Norton Rose Fulbright is led jointly by the ‘extremely knowledgeable’ Dion Legge and tax litigator Dominic Belley, from Calgary and Montreal respectively. The natural resources sector is a major source of work, and the team also has strong capability in financial services and other regulated industries. Among the group’s recent highlights, Legge advised RBC Capital Markets as the underwriters on the tax aspects of TransCanada’s C$4.4bn bought deal offering in Canada and the US. In another high-profile deal, Toronto’s Adrienne Oliver advised Pacific Exploration & Production (formerly Pacific Rubiales Energy) on its C$1.7bn acquisition by Mexican conglomerate Alfa and US-based Harbour Energy. Montreal-based litigator Wilfrid Lefebvre QC is regarded by many as a leading name for tax disputes.

Lawyers at Torys have ‘very good business acumen’ and provide ‘excellent and precise advice’. Bench strength may have been an issue in the past, but the firm has worked hard to address this in recent years and, in 2015, it boosted its contentious capability with the hire of new tax litigation head and ‘rising star in tax litigation’ Martha MacDonald from Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. Jerald Wortsman is a ‘standout specialist for capital markets tax matters’ and advised Canadian private equity house TorQuest Partners on its acquisition of Spinrite. Corrado Cardarelli chairs the group and is also highly regarded for transactional matters; he advised Brookfield Asset Management on a $500m reorganization of its business services and industrial operations. John Unger is ‘thorough and practical’ and is also recommended.

Burnet Duckworth & Palmer LLP specializes in advising its energy and natural resources industry clients on taxation issues, with a notable niche in royalty trusts. Recent highlights include advising PrairieSky Royalty on the tax aspects of its C$620m offering of subscription receipts. Firm vice chair John Brussa remains a key contact for transactional tax matters. In 2015, high-profile tax litigator Michel Bourque joined KPMG Law LLP.

Dentons’ group has a robust tax litigation practice, in which Calgary-based litigator Jehad Haymour is a leading name. Toronto-based Neil Bass leads the national group and is a commodity taxation specialist. Representative clients include Amex Bank of Canada, Enbridge and Rio Tinto Alcan.

Felesky Flynn LLP focuses exclusively on tax law from its three bases in Western Canada. The firm’s client list includes small regional companies through to major multinationals and it is routinely involved in the full range of tax planning, international tax and contentious matters. Calgary-based senior counsel Sandra Jack QC is highly recommended.

Creative and technically sound’, Gowling WLG earns praise for its ‘very capable tax lawyers that understand both the law and the business context’. In Toronto, group head Michael Bussmann has ‘strong commodity tax knowledge’ and Ash Gupta provides ‘practical, bespoke solutions to unique problems’; they acted alongside Carl Hinzmann to advise TD Equipment Finance Canada on its winding up.

Tax boutique Thorsteinssons LLP handles the full spectrum of corporate taxation, international tax planning and tax litigation matters from its two platforms in Toronto and Vancouver. Toronto-based Michael Colborne is a key contact and is recommended for M&A, natural resource taxation, and controversy issues.

Referral favourite Aird & Berlis LLP has strong links with global US and UK firms, ensuring a steady flow of local roles on major cross-border transactions. Among its recent matters, international tax head Jack Bernstein advised Johnson & Johnson on the local law aspects of a potentially multibillion-dollar international acquisition.

At Baker & McKenzie, litigator Jacques Bernier is the key contact for tax matters. Bernier recently represented Rigel Financial Holdings in its C$45m appeal before the Tax Court in a noteworthy case on the interpretation of the foreign accrual property income rules and their interplay with the general anti-avoidance rule.

In 2016, EY Law LLP entered the market through its merger with legacy Canadian firm Couzin Taylor LLP. Clients single out Montreal-based Angelo Nikolakakis as ‘excellent for international tax’. Managing partner Daniel Sandler is recommended for tax litigation.

At McMillan LLP, Toronto-based group head Michael Friedman advised Knightsbridge Human Capital Solutions on its C$80m acquisition by Adecco Group. Peter Botz is a key contact in Vancouver and advised Plentyoffish Media and its founder, Markus Frind, on the tax aspects of its acquisition by the Match Group.

Recent work for PwC Law LLP includes advising a string of multinational companies on the Canadian aspects of major restructurings. M&A-related work and tax litigation are also strong areas of activity. Toronto-based Elizabeth Johnson is highly regarded for her expertise on partnership taxation and Canada’s anti-avoidance rules.

In 2016, Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP boosted its tax practice in Toronto with the hire of James Morand from McCarthy Tétrault, who brings strong experience in capital markets and structured finance. Ken Snider advised True North Apartment REIT on its acquisition by Northern Property REIT.

In 2016, DLA Piper (Canada) LLP appointed Toronto-based partner Kevin Fritz as head of the tax group. Fritz recently advised Partners Group, a Swiss private equity fund, on its acquisition of Axia NetMedia.

Miller Thomson has a comprehensive tax practice, with experience in planning, transactional support and litigation. Toronto-based Robert Hayhoe chairs the department and is recommended for his work in the charity and not-for-profit sector.

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