Michel Décary, C.R., Ad.E., IAS.A

Michel Décary, C.R., Ad.E., IAS.A

Consulting Partner

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  • McGill University, Master’s Program in Law and Economics, course requirements completed (1969-1970)
  • Called to the Québec Bar (1968)
  • Université de Montréal (LL.L., 1967) and Université de Montréal (B.A., 1964)
  • ICD.D. (2004 to 2014)
  • Industrial Relations Counsellor (1972-2014)


French version is available here.

Michel Décary has pleaded before the courts of all levels, including up to the Supreme Court of Canada, as well as provincial and federal administrative tribunals, domestic arbitration tribunals and commissions of inquiry, in matters involving civil, corporate, and securities law as well as administrative, constitutional and labour law. Michel Décary is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, of which he was Regent from 2006 to 2010.

Mr. Décary also deals with matters involving directors' and officers' liability and has taught at the Corporate Governance College at McGill University's Institute of Corporate Directors (2004-2013) and in the training program offered by Université de Laval's Collège des administrateurs de sociétés (2005-2012). Mr. Décary sits (presently and in the past) on the boards of various commercial corporations and non-profit organizations.

Michel Décary has been involved in major administrative and constitutional cases, representing the governments of Canada, Québec and New Brunswick, and many businesses, and has either represented or acted as counsel to witnesses or parties before a number of public inquiry commissions (Cliche, Keable, Malouf, Commission municipale du Québec, Beaudry, Gomery, Johnson and Charbonneau), inquiries conducted by the Autorité des marchés financiers, the Auditor General of Québec, coroners and several other Canadian or Québec administrative bodies. His career has featured a wide array of complex, high profile cases, including the following:

  • He successfully defended the validity of Québec’s nationalization of part of the asbestos industry;

  • He successfully defended the Québec Government against an attempt by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to terminate the Churchill Falls power purchase contract;

  • He lobbied on behalf of companies in the food industry and took part in the court challenge that led abrogation of the prohibition against Sunday retail trading;

  • He has challenged or defended various federal or provincial laws, including the Competition Act (or parts thereof: Air Canada v. Attorney General of Canada, Alex Couture Ltée v. Attorney General of Canada), sections of the Bankruptcy Act and other legislative or regulatory enactments;

  • In 1998, together with Ian Binnie, formerly a Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, he was appointed co-lead counsel on the legal team in charge of defending the first Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement;

  • He represented the Conservative Party of Canada in an application for judicial review of the Chief Electoral Officer's decision refusing to certify various electoral advertising expenses on the grounds, inter alia, that the Party had used an "in-and-out" scheme to transfer expenses to candidates;

  • He represented the Government of New Brunswick against a challenge launched by Égalité santé en français inc. regarding the constitutional validity of the province's Health Care Reform (2008-2010) (settlement reached in early April 2010);

  • He represented the Quebec Liberal Party before the Charbonneau Commission.

  • He represented McInnis Inc. in proceedings against Lafarge Inc., the Centre québécois du droit de l’environnement and Environnement Vert-Plus inc., who were seeking to quash the certificate of authorization issued by the Minister of the Environment for the new McInnis cement plant building project.

  • He represented the Chambre des notaires and the Barreau du Québec in proceedings seeking a declaration that certain acts performed by insurance companies for others are the exclusive province of notaries and lawyers

Mr. Décary also acts as a negotiator or mediator in labour matters such as collective agreement renewals, including, as special negotiator for the Government of Québec regarding work force mobility between Québec and Ontario in the construction industry and as a mediator, including in the dispute between Société de la Place des Arts and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.

Mr. Décary is also a member of our class-action defence team, uniquely attuned to the Quebec court system and sensitive to its specificities. Our team of litigators has developed extensive expertise in defending class actions and has, over the years, successfully represented defendants in numerous instances.

He has been awarded the titles of Queen’s Counsel and Advocatus Emeritus, and was Associate Deputy Minister at the Ministère de la Justice du Québec. He has also lectured in labour law at the Université de Montréal law faculty, in civil law and procedure at the Service de la formation permanente du Barreau.

Professional recognition and distinctions:

  • Listed in the 2015 Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory as a leading practitioner in the areas of directors’ and officers’ liability, corporate commercial litigation and public law litigation.

  • Named senior Stateman in the 2016 Chambers Global, with extensive experience in administrative, constitutional and commercial litigation.

  • Named "Plaideur Émérite 2014" by Le Monde Juridique.

  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in Canada, 2014 edition.

  • AV® Preeminent Peer Review Rated, the highest level of professional ranking according to Martindale-Hubbell.

  • Best Lawyers’ 2013, named "Lawyer of the Year" in Montréal, in the area of directors' and officers' liability.

  • Who's Who Legal 100 Canada 2013 in commercial litigation.

  • Benchmark Litigation's Definitive Guide to Canada's Leading Litigation Firms & Attorneys, 2013 edition.

  • The World's Leading Lawyers for Business published by Chambers Global, 2013 edition, recommended in the area of dispute resolution in Québec, with the following quote from a market source: "He is one of the best lawyers in the country".

  • Listed in the 2013 Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory as a leading practitioner in the areas of directors’ and officers’ liability, corporate commercial litigation and public law litigation.

  • Lexpert's 2012 Guide to the Leading Canada/US Cross-Border Litigation Lawyers in Canada, in the area of corporate and commercial litigation.

  • Who’s Who Legal: Canada 2011 International Who’s Who of Commercial Litigators, as a leading practitioner in commercial litigator; Who’s Who Legal: Canada 2012 as a top corporate and commercial litigator.

  • PLC Which Lawyer?, 2012, recommended in the area of dispute settlement in Québec, and PLC's 2012/2013 Dispute Resolution Multi-Jurisdictional Guide.

  • A Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada, published by Lexpert/American Media, 2007 edition.

  • Guide to the World’s Leading Litigation Lawyers, published by Legal Media Group, 2007 edition.

  • Lexpert-Thomson 2005, A Guide to the Leading 100 Canadian Cross-Border Litigators.


  • Conférence Perform Management-Union Forum (2000) Comparative law: comparison of the main provisions of the labour codes of Québec, Ontario, British Columbia and the U.S., November 27, 2000

  • Canadian Bar Association "Évolution de la notion d’indépendance judiciaire en droit canadien", November 25, 2000

  • The Canadian Institute Conference: Recent Developments in Administrative Law: "Comparution devant un tribunal administratif – Stratégies, tactiques et commentaires pratiques" April 29 and 30, 2002

  • KPMG
    Conference: Audit committee round table: "Impact des nouvelles règles sur la responsabilité des membres de comités de vérification" June 18, 2002

  • Insight Conferences Conference: "Impacts de l’adoption par la Bourse de Toronto de nouvelles règles fondées sur les recommandations du Comité mixte sur la gouvernance d’entreprise (Rapport Saucier)". November 21, 2002

  • Corporate Boards. Event chaired jointly by Michel Décary and Sidney M. Horn. Mr. Décary's talk was on the risks related to the position of director and how they can protect themselves against liability. January 23, 2003

  • Conférence Perform "Régie d’entreprise–Les suites de la loi Sarbanes-Oxley de 2002 au Canada et au Québec. September 4, 2003

  • The Canadian Institute Conference on judicial independence: "Derniers développements législatifs, politiques et administratifs". December 5, 2003

  • Université de Montréal Round table on training in ethical research: "Le pourquoi et le comment de la formation continue dans le secteur privé ainsi que l’utilisation qu’on y fait de l’approche par problème et des études de cas" March 19, 2004

  • Canadian Bar Association- Québec Division (civil litigation)) Professional conduct – conflicts of interest. "Nouvelles exigences en matière de loyauté et de confidentialité" Presented jointly by Michel Décary and Gérald Tremblay October 22, 2003

  • The Canadian Institute for Advanced Legal Studies The Strasbourg Lectures 2004 Human Rights: Legal Ethics and Globalization Talk presented by Michel Décary: "Commentaires concernant le nouvel article 3.05.18 du code de déontologie des avocats : changement d’importance ou simple placebo?" (Strasbourg, France)/Published July 7, 2004

  • The Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal of Canada Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal Education Seminar: Overview of Section 7 and Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and an Update on Administrative Law Title of talk given by Michel Décary: "Emerging Issues in the Interpretation and Application of Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms" September 9, 2004 (Château Montebello, Québec)

  • Forum on the major challenges facing officers and directors and their new liabilities The Canadian Institute Talk given by Mr. Décary: "Évaluer les réactions que sont susceptibles d’avoir les tribunaux face aux initiatives de réforme de la régie d’entreprise et aux récents scandales qui ont ébranlé les marchés financiers au Canada et aux États-Unis" September 13, 2004 (Hyatt Regency Hotel, Montréal)

  • 3rd Advanced Conference on Administrative Law The Canadian Institute Theme: "Derniers développements légaux et stratégies pour gagner votre cause" Michel Décary chaired the conference and led a workshop December 2 and December 3, 2004 (Hyatt Regency Hotel, Montréal)

  • Insight Conférence "Les moyens de prévention et de défenses des administrateurs et dirigeants à l’encontre de poursuites" November 28, 2005 (Omni Mont-Royal Hotel, Montréal)

  • The Canadian Institute Conference on Boards of Directors Opening speech by Michel Décary as Chair (2nd day) October 20, 2005 (InterContinental Hotel)

  • The Canadian Institute 4th Advanced Conference on administrative law: "L'élargissement de la connaissance d’office des tribunaux administratifs et l’impact sur leurs décisions" May 31, 2006 (Hôtel InterContinental)

  • Conférences PERFORM Tribune des dirigeants TM 2008 "Comment réagissez-vous à l’évolution des marchés des secteurs public et privé" February 28, 2008

  • Federated Press Publications: "Conférence sur les Régimes de retraite : droit et contestation" September 9, 10 and 11, 2009

  • Federated Press Publications: "Conférence sur la Responsabilité pénale des administrateurs et membres de la direction" October 20 and October 21, 2009

  • Canadian Bar Association Seminar on investigative bodies "Le contrôle judiciaire ou les limites des pouvoirs des commissions d’enquête" October 29, 2009

  • The Canadian Institute Advanced Conference on administrative Law: "Duismuir, Khosa et Proprio-Direct répondent-ils à toutes nos questions?" April 20, 2010

  • The Canadian Institute Forum on Government Relations and Lobbying "Votre client est sous enquête : ce que vous devez savoir du processus d'enquête du Commissaire" September 27, 2010

  • The Canadian Institute Training Camp for Litigation Lawyers "Contre-interrogatoire et interrogatoire d’un témoin devenu hostile" October 21, 2010

  • Federated Press Publications "Responsabilité pénale des administrateurs et moyens de prévention et de protection" November 5, 2010

  • The Canadian Institute 7th edition of training in administrative law "Commentaires au sujet de l’état actuel de la révision judiciaire depuis les arrêts Dunsmuir et Khos" April 12, 2011

  • Canadian Bar Association – New Brunswick Winter Meeting 2012 "La retraite obligatoire" February 3, 2012

  • Federated Press Publications "Responsabilité pénale des administrateurs et moyens de prévention et de protection" May 15, 2012

  • Insight Information Conference on crisis management "Le Rôle du conseil d’administration avant, pendant et après la crise" November 27, 2012

  • Continuum 30 Conferences (CANCELLED) "Devoirs et obligations des administrateurs" January 30, 2013

  • Federated Press "Conférence sur la responsabilité des administrateurs et membres de la direction" February 7, 2013

  • The Canadian Institute Round Table on Governance "La gouvernance dans la fonction publique municipale" April 29, 2013

  • The Canadian Institute "Le nouveau Code de procédure civile - incidence pratique sur vos dossiers administratifs" June 2, 2015


Current Board and Committee Positions:

  • Member of the Board of Directors of the Clinical Research Institute of Montréal;
  • Member of the Board of Directors of Portage inc.;
  • Chair of the Board of Directors of the Montréal Council on Foreign Relations from 1999 to 2009, then member of the Board;
  • Member of the Board of Directors of the National Public Relations Inc. from 2000;
  • Member of the Advisory Committee of Lapaco Inc. since 1997;
  • Member of the Board of Directors of the Montréal Institute of International Studies since 2004;
  • Member and Secretary of Destination Centre-Ville since September 2008;
  • Life Governor of the Fondation du Barreau du Québec since 2003;
  • Member of the Advisory Committee of the Université de Montréal Law Faculty since 2003.

Past Board and Committee Positions:

  • Member of the Board of Directors of Harmonium International Inc. 2009-2013;
  • Trustee of the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts Foundation 2004-2014, President 2013-2014;
  • Member of the Board of Directors of Groupe Vidéotron Ltée from 1980 to 2000 and member of several board committees;
  • Member of the Board of Directors of Groupe TVA Inc. from 1987 to 2003 and member of several board committees, including the Auditing Committee;
  • Member of the Board of Directors of Sojecci Ltée from 1990 to 2000;
  • Administrative member of the Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon (2000 – 2001);
  • Member of the Board of Directors of Crédit commercial de France in the 1980s;
  • Vice-President of the Royal Victoria Hospital (1982-1984);
  • Vice-President of the Québec Hospitals Association (1982-1984);
  • Member of the Board of Directors of Stikeman Elliott LLP (1989-1997) and member of its Executive Committee (1999-2003);
  • Co-leader of the Stikeman Elliott LLP litigation section (1982-1997);
  • Member of the Committee on Research Ethics of Université de Montréal (2003-2007);
  • Member of the Barreau de Montréal and Court of Appeal Liaison Committee from 2003 to 2007;
  • President of the executive committee of the administrative law section of the Canadian Bar Association-Québec Division (2005–2007);
  • Member of the Board of Directors of Sopinka Cup since 1999 and President (2003-2004);
  • Secretary of the Barreau de Montréal (1972); and
  • Member of the Barreau du Québec Administrative Committee (1974-1976).


  • "Être un administrateur de sociétés d’État", published 2007 by Université Laval – Collège des administrateurs de sociétés
  • American College of Trial Lawyer Publication on Cross-Boarder Litigation: "Appearance of United States Lawyers before the Federal Courts of Canada and the Canadian Superior and Provincial Courts" -and "Admissibility of Sworn U.S. Testimony before Canadian Courts", May 2006


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