Instructor(s): Ari Kaplan, Mitch Frazer

For graduate students, the course number is LAW7057HS.

There has never been a more exciting time to study pension law. The current economic climate has catapulted pensions onto the front pages of major newspapers. Pension statutes across the country are being revised and updated, some for the first time in twenty-five years. The Supreme Court of Canada has heard and decided several pension cases in the past dozen years, as opposed to just one in the decade before that. The law in this area is dynamic.

One of the challenges of pension law is the difficulty in which to pigeonhole it into our conventional regulatory mindset. Regulated regimes are often described by reference to one of two broad purposes: one, statutes the predominate purpose of which are to deliver a social program by either conferring a social benefit or regulating social behavior, or two, schemes that regulate economic behavior with the objective of providing stability and fairness in capital markets or correcting a perceived imbalance in those markets. These conventional assumptions overlap in the case of pensions. On one hand, the establishment of an employer-sponsored pension plan is a voluntary exercise as a function of the employment contract. On the other hand, there is a public interest in ensuring that people age with dignity and with retirement security; provincial pension legislation originally mandated employers to establish a pension plan for their employees. This was a policy initiative that intended and to an extent still intends, notwithstanding its voluntariness to download onto the private sector the delivery of a social program, albeit regulated. Pension law exploits the dichotomy between these two rationales: one rationale being that the law should aim to defer as much as possible to common law contractual rights, and the other being that the law should reinforce the public policy objectives by ensuring a minimum level of sustenance following an employees working life. In this course, we will consider this dichotomy as we explore the nature of pension plan sponsorship, administration, investment, regulation, amendment, reorganization, termination and surplus.

Research paper (6,250 to 7,500 words) 70% on a subject approved by the instructor; 30% for class participation (10% contribution to class discussion, 15% short presentation, 5% attendance).

At a Glance

Second Term


20 JD


T: 8:30 - 10:20