packing up boxes from office

In a recent employment law case of Zheng v China Southern Airlines Company Limited, 2023 BCSC 1763, a former employee sued their employer for wrongful dismissal, highlighting the importance of reasonable notice being provided by employers to employees. Let’s delve into the analysis and outcome of this case.

What is reasonable notice?

Reasonable notice in employment law refers to the period of time an employer must provide an employee before terminating their employment without cause. It serves as a safeguard to allow the employee adequate time to find new employment and mitigate the financial impact of sudden job loss. The duration of reasonable notice is determined by various factors, including the employee’s length of service, age, position, specialized skills, and the availability of alternative employment opportunities. Courts consider these factors on a case-by-case basis to determine a fair and reasonable notice period, aiming to balance the interests of both the employer and the employee. The failure of an employer to provide reasonable notice is called a “wrongful dismissal”.

How do you determine what a reasonable notice?

In British Columbia, reasonable notice ranges depending on a number of factors from a few weeks up to 24 months. It is a context driven decision. In the case being looked at here, the court looked at four primary factors to help it determine reasonable notice.

Character of the Employment

The court examined various factors outlined in the case law to determine the appropriate notice period. It noted that employees with specialized skills typically merit longer notice periods to secure comparable employment. The employer’s role in inducing the employee to leave secure employment can also influence the notice period. In this case, the court found that the employer sought and induced the employee to work for them because of her expertise and the relatively niche market of travel between Vancouver and China. The employee in contrast left her secure position largely due to the employer’s attempts to recruit her.

As a result, the court found that the character of the employment militated towards the upper end of the notice period.

Length of Service and Age

The employee had served the company for nine years and was 57 years old. Longer service and older age generally warrant extended notice periods due to potential challenges in finding alternative employment.

Availability of Alternative Employment

Given the niche nature of the employee’s expertise and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the airline industry, finding alternative employment proved difficult. Despite a nine-month job search, the employee could not secure a similar position, underscoring the limited availability of alternative opportunities.

Assessment for Failure to Provide Reasonable Notice

The court referenced several precedents to determine a reasonable notice period, considering factors like age, length of service, and the nature of the employment. Ultimately, it awarded a 20-month notice period based on these considerations.

This means that the employer was required to provide the employee with salary, benefits, and other income like earnings that the employee would have earned over that 20-month period.


The court calculated the damages, including the employee’s salary, benefits, and special damages, resulting in a total of $98,832.75. Prejudgment interest was also awarded on this amount.

This case underscores the importance of understanding reasonable notice in employment law, especially concerning factors like the nature of employment, length of service, age, and availability of alternative opportunities. Employers should be mindful of these considerations when terminating employees to ensure fair treatment and compliance with legal standards. Employees should know their rights to reasonable notice and compensation for an employer’s failure to adhere to their obligations.

person making noise

Navigating legal issues related to property rights can be complex, especially when it comes to private nuisance law in British Columbia. Whether you’re a property owner facing interference from a neighboring property or someone accused of causing such interference, understanding the intricacies of private nuisance law is crucial and difficult. In this article, we’ll delve into the key principles of private nuisance law in British Columbia, as outlined by relevant legal precedents and statutes with a recent case example.

What is Private Nuisance?

Private nuisance refers to interference with a person’s use and enjoyment of their property due to the actions or activities of another party. This interference must be substantial and unreasonable in nature to constitute a private nuisance. Examples of private nuisances include excessive noise, noxious odors, vibrations, and other disturbances that significantly impact a property owner’s enjoyment of their land.

Legal Framework in British Columbia

The legal framework for private nuisance law in British Columbia is primarily shaped by judicial decisions and statutes. The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Antrim Truck Centre Ltd. v. Ontario (Transportation), 2013 SCC 13, provides a foundational understanding of the requirements for proving private nuisance. According to this decision, there are two key elements to establish a private nuisance claim:

1. Substantial Interference: The plaintiff must demonstrate that the interference with their property is more than a trivial annoyance. This can include physical damage to the property or disturbances to the owner’s health, comfort, or convenience.

2. Unreasonableness: The interference must be unreasonable in all circumstances. This involves a balancing exercise where the court assesses the gravity of the harm suffered by the plaintiff against the utility of the defendant’s conduct.

Factors Considered by the Court:

In determining whether a private nuisance exists, courts consider various factors, including:

  • The severity of the interference.
  • The character of the neighborhood.
  • The sensitivity of the plaintiff.
  • The frequency and duration of the interference.
  • The nature of the defendant’s conduct.

It’s important to note that the focus of the analysis is on whether it is reasonable for the plaintiff to bear the interference without compensation, rather than whether the defendant’s actions were reasonable.

Precedents and Case Law

Several landmark cases have shaped private nuisance law in British Columbia. Obviously, the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Antrim Truck Centre Ltd. v. Ontario (Transportation), 2013 SCC 13, is the leading case. The British Columbia Court of Appeal decision in Baker v. Rendle, 2017 BCCA 72, reaffirmed the focus on the harm suffered by the plaintiff rather than the defendant’s conduct. Additionally, the case of Royal Anne Hotel Co. Ltd. v. Village of Ashcroft (1979), 95 DLR (3d) 756 (BCCA), provides valuable insight into what constitutes an unreasonable invasion of property interests.

Recent Case

In the recent decision of Hill v Herd, 2024 BCSC 797, the plaintiffs sought damages and orders from the court against a gas station and against municipal authorities for the torts of nuisance and negligence. In this lengthy and thorough decision, the court found that the smells of gasoline, the lights from the business, the noise emanating from the gas station caused by renovations and delivery of fuel did constitute nuisance. The court determined that the business was liable and the municipality was not. The court declined to order the stop of the issue and instead order damages amounting to $80,000. It was a mixed result for a party seeking to stop nuisance claims.


Private nuisance law in British Columbia serves to protect property owners from unreasonable interference with their use and enjoyment of land. By understanding the legal principles outlined in relevant cases and statutes, individuals can navigate private nuisance disputes effectively. Whether you’re seeking to assert your rights as a property owner or defend against a private nuisance claim, consulting with a qualified legal professional is essential for achieving a favorable outcome.

Hutchison Oss-Cech Marlatt is committed to providing legal guidance on property law matters, including private nuisance disputes, in British Columbia. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and discuss your legal needs.

car in parking lot

Has your insurance company denied your claim because of a material misrepresentation? Today, civil litigator Dana G. Quantz is reviewing a recent case addressing these issues and explain how you can address issues with insurers denying claims for alleged misrepresentations.

The case today is called Media West Zny Inc v Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, 2024 BCSC 625. In this case the court was being asked to assess a denial of insurance coverage for stolen vehicles. The insurer was convinced that the insured was part of a scam on the insurance and participated in the theft of the vehicles. The court agreed that the insured was not a savoury person but was not convinced it participated in the theft. So, the court looked at one of the common defences used by insurers to refuse to pay out a claim, material misrepresentation.

In effect, a material misrepresentation is an insured making a false statement about some fact or facts that is important to the insurer in their investigation of the claim. If the insurer finds out about that false statement, then they can deny the claim. However, there are strict requirements for proof.

As Justice Branch explained in our decision:

[57] Given that the Court has concluded that the plaintiff has satisfied its initial burden on coverage, we must go on to consider whether ICBC has met its burden to show that there were misrepresentations that should nonetheless invalidate the claim. I conclude that ICBC has done so.

[58] ICBC relies on s. 75 (a)(ii) and (c) of the Act which provide as follows:
All claims by or in respect of the applicant or insured are invalid and the right of an applicant, an insured, or a person claiming through or on behalf of an applicant or insured or of a person claiming as a dependant of the applicant or the insured, to insurance money under the plan or an optional insurance contract, is forfeited if

(a) the applicant for coverage under the plan or the optional insurance contract

(ii) knowingly misrepresents or fails to disclose in the application a fact required to be stated in it,
(b) … or
(c) the insured makes a willfully false statement with respect to the claim.

[59] In Petersen v. Bannon (1993), 84 B.C.L.R. (2d) 350, 1993 CanLII 4719 (C.A.), the Court of Appeal discussed the meaning of a willfully false statement. Justice Finch, as he then was, stated:

[46] A willful act is one done intentionally, knowingly and purposely, without justifiable excuse. A willful act is to be distinguished from an act done carelessly, thoughtlessly, heedlessly or inadvertently. A willful act differs essentially from one done negligently: see Gill v. Insurance Corp. of British Columbia, [1989] I.L.R. 1-2529 (B.C.S.C.).

[47] The onus is on the insurer to prove on a balance of probabilities that the statements in question were willfully false. Because the allegations are serious, the judge is justified in scrutinizing the evidence carefully, and cogent evidence will be required to support an allegation of dishonesty.

[60] In Petersen, Finch J.A. (as he then was) also held that “a willfully false statement will invalidate an insured’s claim only if the statement is material to the claim at risk of forfeiture”: para. 59. In Inland Kenworth Ltd. v. Commonwealth Insurance Co. (1990), 48 B.C.L.R. (2d) 305, 1990 CanLII 548 (C.A.) [Inland]. Chief Justice McEachern stated at p. 8: “the classic test of materiality in insurance law is whether a statement is capable of affecting the mind of the insurer.” He continued:

A contract of insurance is one of utmost good faith and one cannot commit frauds or make willfully false statements about the subject matter of the claim for any purpose without risking the loss of the right to indemnity if it turns out to be material on any issue.

[61] In Boyle, the Court summarized the general principles on misrepresentation as follows:

[73] An allegation that an insured has made a willfully false statement is founded in fraud, and the court will not find fraud where the person making the false statement has an honest belief in its truth: Skuratow v. Commonwealth Insurance Co., 2005 BCCA 515, at para. 16.
[75] Mere speculation of fraud will not suffice, and there are cases where even very strong speculation and circumstantial evidence have not been sufficient to establish fraud: Lexis Holdings Int’l Ltd. v. I.C.B.C., 2009 BCSC 344, at paras. 27 and 28.

[62] In Boyle, the plaintiff conceded that several statements about her keys were factually incorrect, but argued that these statements were not willfully false or were immaterial. The Court concluded in Ms. Boyle’s favour:

[80] I am not persuaded that Ms. Boyle’s incorrect statements about her car keys were made willfully, that is intentionally, knowingly and purposely. I accept her evidence that her errors and were the result of confusion or mere imprecision on her part. Her errors were therefore inadvertent and not deliberate. On this point I rely on the evidence generally as well as on my earlier comments concerning Ms. Boyle’s credibility. As to the defence comments about lack of care or diligence, Ms. Boyle’s errors were the result of negligence at most, which does not suffice as proof of willfulness, as Peterson confirms (“a willful act differs essentially from one done negligently”, at para. 46).

[63] The question of whether there has been a knowing misrepresentation is to be determined based on the circumstances that existed at the time the policy of insurance was issued: Booth v. I.C.B.C., 2009 BCSC 1346 at para. 9.

[64] ICBC does not have to prove that the plaintiff was aware of the consequences of a misrepresentation concerning the insurance. As noted, a contract of insurance is one of utmost good faith. One cannot commit fraud or make willfully false statements about the subject matter of the claim without risking the loss of the right to indemnity: Lau v. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, 2012 BCSC 1226 at para. 7; Inland at p. 9.

In essence, there are a number of items that an insurer needs to prove to succeed in this defense. First, an insurer needs to prove that the statements were in fact false. This requires proving that the alleged circumstances were not the case. Second, an insurer needs to prove that statements were willfully false. This means that a person cannot have their insurance denied if they were merely negligent or careless about whether the statement was true. Lastly, the insurer needs to prove that these statements were important for the investigation. The insurer should not be denying insurance coverage for statements that are not material (i.e., very relevant) to the claim.

These types of denials can happen in property insurance, travel insurance, life insurance, and disability or sickness insurance and often the reasons are less than what is legally required. Insurance companies will often look for reasons to deny the claim and they can often act without enough basis to deny. This means that insurance denials can often be successfully challenged.

The lawyers at Hutchison Oss-Cech Marlatt have over 50 years combined experience challenging flawed decisions of insurance companies on behalf of people needing benefits. We can help you find a way to get coverage. Contact us is a free consultation.

Offleashed Victoria Gala sign

Animals in the Victoria area rely on the BCSPCA every day. At the BCSPCA, the city’s most vulnerable animals get the care and attention they need. Not only do they provide a home for the homeless, the BCSPCA is a critical support network that organizes pet food banks, emergency boarding assistance, outreach services, veterinary care, wildlife rehabilitation, and adoptions. On top of that, the BCSPCA takes on an important role as a leader and educator in the community, offering summer camps and school programs for children.

As an organization funded almost entirely by donations from the public, the BCSPCA relies upon the community to power the incredible work they do. Thousands of animals are helped every year, fueled by the generosity of everyday people. That’s why Hutchison Oss-Cech Marlatt was proud to both sponsor and attend Offleashed Victoria 2023 at the Fairmont Empress on September 23rd.

attending Offleashed Victoria Gala

With the help of Offleashed Victoria, we were able to take part in a magical evening, make a real difference for animals in Victoria, and support the BCSPCA’s mission work. Plus, the gala was a blast.

There was a 3-course dinner and drinks in the stunning Fairmont Empress event hall, a Cuddle Lounge with BC SPCA animal ambassadors, and live presentations from experts that provided an inside look at the BCSPCA’s work. There was even a live auction with exciting prizes like ‘An unforgettable Tofino Retreat’, ‘Wild Arc Intern for a Day’, ‘A Romantic Evening in Victoria’ and more.

But perhaps the best part of Offleashed Victoria 2023 was being surrounded by fellow animal lovers, united with the mission to raise money and improve the livelihood of vulnerable animals in Victoria.

puppy at Offleashed Victoria

Be sure to check out the gallery of photos from that special night for the BCSPCA: Photo Gallery from Offleashed Victoria 2023.

See you in 2024!

Learn more about Offleashed Vancouver 2023, happening on October 21st at the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver.

structure on fire