Irwin G. Nathanson, Q.C.


Irwin Nathanson, Q.C. is one of the top trial and appellate lawyers in British Columbia, and has litigated many of British Columbia’s leading complex business disputes.

Leading publications have referred to Mr. Nathanson, saying: "Irwin is still going like a champ, a ‘senior statesmen’ who still doesn’t miss a beat“;  You won’t find a better litigator anywhere in the country”; “He is the biggest gun in Vancouver”; He is “resolute, cool and clinical, not to mention technically brilliant”; “Nathanson can always produce a fantastic team for significant pieces of litigation”; “He is still as good as it gets”; He is known for his “forceful, compelling and indefatigable” litigation style; He “generates unanimous acclaim among Vancouver peers”; He’s “as good a cross examiner as you’re going to find”. He and Stephen Schachter have been described as a “potent duo”

A recent article in Canadian Lawyer by Philip Slayton referred to Mr. Nathanson's oral argument at the Supreme Court of Canada in McCormick v. Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, saying:  "The Supreme Court was clearly impressed by the able argument of Irwin Nathanson, Faskens' counsel.  (It's worth watching Nathanson at work, just to see how it's done ...)".

Benchmark Canada has listed Mr. Nathanson as a “Litigation Star” since 2012 and as one of the Top 50 Trial Lawyers in Canada.  Mr. Nathanson is recognized in Best Lawyers Canada in the fields of bet-the-company litigation, class actions, corporate commercial litigation, director and officer liability practice, labour and employment law, and securities law. Mr. Nathanson is also consistently ranked as a leading litigator by Chambers and Who’s Who Legal.

Best Lawyers listed Mr. Nathanson as Vancouver’s "Corporate and Commercial Litigation Lawyer of the Year" in 2017, “Class Action Litigation Lawyer of the Year” in 2012 and 2016, “Director and Officer Liability Practice Lawyer of the Year” for 2013 and 2018, and “Bet-the-Company Litigation Lawyer of the Year” in 2010 and 2014. Lexpert lists Mr. Nathanson as “most frequently recommended” in the areas of Corporate Commercial Litigation, “repeatedly recommended” in Directors’ and Officers’ Liability Litigation and Securities Litigation, and as a leading practitioner in Corporate Commercial Litigation. The Legal 500 Canada ranks Mr. Nathanson among the leading lawyers for dispute resolution in British Columbia. Mr. Nathanson is listed in Lexpert®/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada. 

Mr. Nathanson regularly appears in the British Columbia Supreme Court, the British Columbia Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court of Canada. He is often retained to take matters on appeal.

Mr. Nathanson acts as counsel on a range of matters, with a focus on corporate commercial litigation matters, including class actions, hostile take-over bids, derivative actions, pension litigation, professional negligence, and securities matters, including shareholder disputes. He is often retained to work with major international law firms based in Eastern Canada and the United States.  

Representative Cases

Mr. Nathanson was lead counsel or co-counsel in the following cases.

Class Actions

  • In Samos v. James A. Pattison and Others, the firm successfully defended a proposed class action in which the plaintiff sought to certify a $500 million claim alleging fraud and misrepresentation. Certification was refused and a subsequent application for reconsideration was also refused.

  • In Lieberman v. Business Development Bank of Canada, the firm successfully defended this class action at trial. The plaintiffs, pensioners, claimed against the defendant for breach of fiduciary duty in the administration of its pension plan. Though some breaches of fiduciary duty were found, the plaintiffs were limited to technical relief conceded by the defendant and did not recover damages

Oppression Claims/Securities/Shareholders Disputes

  • In Telus Corp. v. Mason Capital Management LLC, the firm represented Mason Capital, an American hedge fund, in a corporate battle against Telus. The case was notable for its compressed time frame—the trial was heard in early September 2012, and the appeal was expedited and heard by the Court of Appeal in early October 2012. Lexpert Magazine has referred to this case as “an epic shareholder dispute that demanded inter-firm teamwork and strategic vision.”

Mining Disputes

  • The firm has successfully represented parties in two of Canada’s most significant mining cases: Minera Aquiline Argentina SA v. IMA Explorations Inc. and Inmet Mining Corp. v. Homestake Canada Inc.

  • In Minera Aquiline, the defendant was compelled to transfer to the plaintiff the Navidad Project – a world class silver deposit in Argentina – as a result of its unlawful use of confidential exploration data.

  • In Inmet, the plaintiff vendor of a gold mine was awarded $111 million from the defendant who unlawfully refused to complete a purchase agreement on the basis of an alleged failure to disclose material facts.

Pension Litigation

  • In Buschau v. Rogers Cablesystems Inc., the firm successfully defended related actions, twice appearing in the Supreme Court of Canada, in which employees sought to recover pension surplus by forcing the wind-up of a closed pension plan.

  • In Bower v. Cominco Ltd., the firm successfully defended a $78 million claim by pensioners alleging an unlawful pension surplus transfer between plans.

Partnership/Human Rights Law

  • In McCormick v. Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, the firm represented a leading national law firm before the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada in relation to a former partner’s human rights age discrimination complaint. McCormick was listed by Lexpert magazine as one of the top 10 business cases of 2014.


  • In Hughes v. Vander Zalm, the firm successfully represented B.C.’s former conflict of interest commissioner Ted Hughes in a jury trial against former B.C. Premier Bill Vander Zalm.

Other Commercial Matters

  • In Strother v. 3464920 Canada Inc., the firm represented one of Canada's national law firms in proceedings before the British Columbia Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada. The plaintiff, a former client of the law firm, accused the law firm and one of its former partners of breach of fiduciary duty resulting from acting in a conflict of interest. While the plaintiff achieved some success in the Court of Appeal, in the Supreme Court of Canada the law firm was exonerated of misconduct and the remedy awarded by the Court of Appeal was substantially reduced.

  • In Hollinger Inc. v. Radler, the firm successfully defended an application to continue an ex parte mareva injunction pronounced by the Supreme Court of British Columbia on October 25, 2006. The continuation application was heard over 4 days and dismissed on November 18, 2006. An application for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal was dismissed on November 29, 2006.