Michel Décary

Consulting Partner, Lawyer

Michel Décary, Ad. E.


25th Floor
1100 René-Lévesque Blvd. West
Montreal, Quebec H3B 5C9
514 397-8500 514 397-8515

With more than 50 years of experience in dispute resolution, Michel Décary has acted on behalf of various clients before the courts of Canada, including the Supreme Court of Canada, and before numerous administrative tribunals. A Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, he is recognized by legal directories in the corporate and commercial litigation, labour and employment law, and administrative and public law categories. Best Lawyers in Canada also named him Lawyer of the Year in 2021 and in 2024 in the corporate governance category.

Michel advises boards, directors and officers of private companies and Crown corporations on matters of corporate governance and civil and criminal liability. He has taught at the École supérieure de régie d’entreprises of the Institute of Corporate Directors of McGill University (2004-2013) and at the training program of the Conseil des administrateurs de sociétés of Université Laval (2005-2012). He sits or has sat on the boards of many public and private companies and various philanthropic organizations.

Michel has been involved in several constitutional and administrative law disputes as counsel for governmental and private parties, including the nationalization of part of the asbestos industry by the Government of Québec, the attempt by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to terminate the Churchill Falls electricity contract, challenges to statutes and regulations, including the Competition Act in Alex Couture ltée v. Directeur de la concurrence and in Air Canada v. Attorney General of Canada. He was appointed with Ian Binnie as lead counsel on the legal team defending the first Canada-U.S. free-trade agreement, acted on behalf of the Government of New Brunswick in defence of an attack by Égalité santé en français inc. on the constitutionality of the province's health care reform, and represented Air Canada pilots and employees on the use of French at work.

He has acted as lead counsel or counsel for parties and witnesses before the Cliche, Keable, Malouf, Beaudry, Gomery, Johnson, O'Connor and Charbonneau public commissions of enquiry, as well as before the Commission municipale du Québec, the Autorité des marchés financiers, the Vérificateur général du Québec, coroners, disciplinary boards of various professional orders, arbitration boards and arbitrators. He has regularly acted as a negotiator or attorney for management and labour, and as a mediator or arbitrator.

Michel gives priority to mandates to act as arbitrator in the resolution of disputes between shareholders, directors and officers or in the settlement of labour and employment law disputes, or as counsel in complex corporate, commercial, administrative and constitutional litigation.

He has been awarded the title of King's Counsel and Advocatus Emeritus of the Barreau du Québec, has served as Associate Deputy Minister for Civil and Penal Affairs at the Ministère de la Justice of Québec, and is a member of the Barreau du Québec’s administrative committee. He has taught labour law at the Université de Montréal's Faculty of Law, civil law and procedure at the Bar's Continuing Education Services, and pleading techniques at UQAM.

  • 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) 
  • Université de Montréal (B.A., 1964)
  • ICD.D. (2004 to 2014)
  • Industrial Relations Counsellor (1972-2014)
  • Best Lawyers (2006-2024) - Corporate and Commercial Litigation; Corporate Governance Practice; Labour and Employment Law; Administrative and Public Law
  • Canadian Legal Lexpert (2013-2020) - Public Law Litigation
  • Chambers Canada, Québec (2018) - Senior stateman in administrative, constitutional and commercial litigation 
  • Barreau du Québec - Advocatus emeritus
  • Martindale-Hubbell – Notable
  • Le Monde Juridique (2014) - Preeminent Peer review Rated
  • Best Lawyers in Canada (2013) - Lawyer of the Year in the area of directors’ and officers’ liability
  • Who’s Who Legal 100 (2011-2013) - Commercial litigation
  • Benchmark Litigation (2013)
  • Chambers Global, Québec (2013) - Recommended lawyer in dispute resolution
  • Canadian Legal Lexpert, (2012) - Canada/US Cross-Border Litigation Lawyers
  • PLC Which Lawyer? (2012-2013) - Dispute Resolution
  • Lexpert (2007) - Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada
  • Legal Media Groupe Guide to the World’s Leading Litigation Lawyers (2007)
  • Lexpert (2005) - Leading 100 Canadian Cross-Border Ligitators
  • “Être un administrateur de sociétés d’État”

    published 2007 by Université Laval – Collège des administrateurs de sociétés

  • “Appearance of United States Lawyers before the Federal Courts of Canada and the Canadian Superior and Provincial Courts”

    American College of Trial Lawyer Publication on Cross-Boarder Litigation -and "Admissibility of Sworn U.S. Testimony before Canadian Courts", May 2006

  • Has advised or defended a number of boards of directors during legal proceedings or investigations, including businesses in the companies in the insurance, construction, aircraft, communications, retail, engineering, transport and legal sectors;
  • Counselled Ciments McInnis in a dispute with Lafarge Inc., the Québec Environmental Law Centre and Environnement Vert-Plus Inc., which sought to have the Minister of the Environment's certificate of approval revoked for the construction of the new McInnis cement plant;
  • Counsels the Chambre des notaires and the Barreau du Québec in a dispute seeking the declaration that certain acts performed by insurance companies for others are the exclusive domain of notaries and lawyers;
  • Acted as attorney or counselled witnesses or parties before a number of public inquiry commissions (Cliche, Keable, Malouf, Quebec Municipal Commission, Beaudry, Gomery, Johnson and Charbonneau), investigations by the Autorité des marchés financiers, the Auditor General of Québec, coroners and many other Canadian and Quebec administrative agencies;
  • Has challenged or defended a number of federal and provincial laws on behalf of private corporations or governments.
  • Successfully defended the validity of Québec’s nationalization of part of the asbestos industry
  • Successfully defended the Québec Government against an attempt by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to terminate the Churchill Falls power purchase contract
  • 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
  • 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, was appointed co-lead counsel on the legal team in charge of defending the first Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement;
  • 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
  • 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)
  • Represented the Quebec Liberal Party before the Charbonneau Commission
  • 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.
  • June 2, 2015

    The Canadian Institute “Le nouveau Code de procédure civile - incidence pratique sur vos dossiers administratifs”

  • April 29, 2013

    The Canadian Institute Round Table on Governance “La gouvernance dans la fonction publique municipale”

  • February 7, 2013

    Federated Press "Conférence sur la responsabilité des administrateurs et membres de la direction"

  • January 30, 2013

    Continuum 30 Conferences (CANCELLED) “Devoirs et obligations des administrateurs”

  • November 27, 2012

    Insight Information Conference on crisis management “Le Rôle du conseil d’administration avant, pendant et après la crise”

  • May 15, 2012

    Federated Press Publications "Responsabilité pénale des administrateurs et moyens de prévention et de protection"

  • February 3, 2012

    Canadian Bar Association – New Brunswick Winter Meeting 2012 “La retraite obligatoire”

  • April 12, 2011

    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”

  • November 5, 2010

    Federated Press Publications “Responsabilité pénale des administrateurs et moyens de prévention et de protection”

  • October 21, 2010

    The Canadian Institute Training Camp for Litigation Lawyers “Contre-interrogatoire et interrogatoire d’un témoin devenu hostile”

  • September 27, 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”

  • April 20, 2010

    The Canadian Institute Advanced Conference on administrative Law: “Duismuir, Khosa et Proprio-Direct répondent-ils à toutes nos questions?”

  • October 29, 2009

    Canadian Bar Association Seminar on investigative bodies “Le contrôle judiciaire ou les limites des pouvoirs des commissions d’enquête”

  • October 20 and October 21, 2009

    Federated Press Publications: “Conférence sur la Responsabilité pénale des administrateurs et membres de la direction”

  • September 9, 10 and 11, 2009

    Federated Press Publications: “Conférence sur les Régimes de retraite : droit et contestation”

  • February 28, 2008

    Conférences PERFORM Tribune des dirigeants TM 2008 “Comment réagissez-vous à l’évolution des marchés des secteurs public et privé”

  • May 31, 2006

    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” (Hôtel InterContinental)

  • October 20, 2005

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

  • November 28, 2005

    Insight Conférence “Les moyens de prévention et de défenses des administrateurs et dirigeants à l’encontre de poursuites” (Omni Mont-Royal Hotel, Montréal)

  • December 2 and December 3, 2004

    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 (Hyatt Regency Hotel, Montréal)

  • September 13, 2004

    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” (Hyatt Regency Hotel, Montréal)

  • September 9, 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" (Château Montebello, Québec)

  • July 7, 2004

    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

  • October 22, 2003

    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

  • March 19, 2004

    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”

  • December 5, 2003

    The Canadian Institute Conference on judicial independence: “Derniers développements législatifs, politiques et administratifs”.

  • September 4, 2003

    Conférence Perform “Régie d’entreprise–Les suites de la loi Sarbanes-Oxley de 2002 au Canada et au Québec”.

  • January 23, 2003

    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.

  • November 21, 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)”.

  • June 18, 2002

    KPMG Conference: Audit committee round table: “Impact des nouvelles règles sur la responsabilité des membres de comités de vérification”

  • April 29 and 30, 2002

    The Canadian Institute Conference: Recent Developments in Administrative Law: “Comparution devant un tribunal administratif – Stratégies, tactiques et commentaires pratiques”

  • November 25, 2000

    Canadian Bar Association “Évolution de la notion d’indépendance judiciaire en droit canadien”

  • November 27, 2000

    Conference 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.

  • Observer and member of the Board of Directors of Medfar Clinical Solutions Inc. since 2004;
  • Member of the Board of Directors of Portage Inc. since 2010;
  • Secretary of the Barreau de Montréal (1972); 
  • Member of the Administrative Committee of the Barreau de Québec (1974-1976);
  • Member of the Board of Directors of Le Groupe Vidéotron Ltée (1980-2000) and member of several Board committees (1980 -2000); 
  • Member of the Board of Directors of the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (2013-2023); 
  • Member of the Board of Directors of TVA Group Inc. and member of several Board committees, including the Audit Committee (1987-2023); 
  • Member of the Board of Directors of Sojecci Ltée (1990-2000); 
  • Member of the Board of Directors of the Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon (2000 - 2001); 
  • Member of the Board of Directors of Crédit commercial de France (1985 - 1986); 
  • Vice-President of the Royal Victoria Hospital Centre (1982-1984); 
  • Vice-President of the Association des hôpitaux du Québec (1982-1984); 
  • Member of the Advisory Board of Lapaco Inc. (1997-2015);
  • Member of the Board of Directors of Harmonium International Inc. (2009-2013); 
  • Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Conseil des relations internationales de Montréal (1999-2009), then member of the Board until 2012; 
  • Trustee of the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts Foundation (2004-2014); President (2013-2014);
  • Member of the Advisory Committee of the Faculty of Law of the Université de Montréal (2003-2010);
  • Member of the Board of Directors of National Public Relations Inc. (2000-2014); 
  • Member of the Board of Directors of Stikeman Elliott LLP. (1989-1997) (1999-2003) and its Executive Committee (1999-2003); 
  • Member of the Board of Directors of the Institut d'études internationales de Montréal (2004-2016);
  • Member and secretary of Destination Centre-Ville (September 2008-2016);
  • Member of the Montréal Bar Liaison Committee with the Court of Appeal (2003-2007); 
  • Chair 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 the Sopinka Cup (1999-2004) and President (2003-2004); 
  • Member of the Board of Directors of Harmonium International Inc. (2009-2013); 
  • Life Governor of the Fondation du Barreau du Québec.