Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Justice Russell Brown

By Lucianna Ciccocioppo

Alumnus Justice Russell Brown, LLM 2003 and SJD 2006, of Alberta’s Court of Appeal, has been appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada, effective August 31, 2015. He will replace Justice Marshall Rothstein, who announced his upcoming retirement in April. Brown is the second member of the SCC from a western province, after Chief Justice Beverly McLaughlin.

“I am delighted that Justice Brown has been appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada,” said Dean Edward Iacobucci. “It is wonderful to see our alumnus assume a position of great importance not only for the legal profession, but for the country as a whole. I wish Justice Brown all the best as he embarks on this new chapter.”

Justice Brown is based in Edmonton, where he also serves on the Courts of Appeal for the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. A member of the bars of British Columbia and Alberta, he was previously  an associate professor and associate dean at the University of Alberta law school. Brown was also associate counsel with Miller Thomson LLP in Edmonton, and practiced in the Victoria office of Carfra & Lawton (now Carfra Lawton LLP) and at Davis & Company (now DLA Piper LLP) in Vancouver.

He specialized in commercial law, medical negligence, personal injury, trusts and estates, and competition law. He authored a treatise on claims under negligence law for economic loss, and authored or co-authored book chapters and articles on tort law, property law and civil justice. In addition, he’s a regular contributor to academic, professional and judicial education conference proceedings.

The Faculty of Law's Professors Peter Benson and Bruce Chapman supervised Justice Brown, then a graduate student, for his master's and doctoral law degrees.

"Justice Brown combines exceptional ability as a superb and lucid writer with a consistently demonstrated capacity for rigorous and truly incisive legal analysis," said Benson. "Ever since we first met, I have found him to be a genuine, decent, thoughtful, and fair-minded person for whom I have real affection, respect, and admiration. His appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada is a great day for the Court and for our system of justice."

Chapman called him "one of those ideal students for an SJD supervisor." He added: "There was always this regular and great conversation about private law ideas and problems, followed quickly by Russ producing an impeccable draft chapter putting it all together and taking it all up a notch or two in quality. I still read his thesis for ideas on tort law in general and economic loss issues in particular. Lucid and compelling. He will bring a lot to the SCC on private law matters."

In a statement, Prime MInister Stephen Harper said, “Mr. Justice Brown brings to the Court wide experience as a law professor and legal scholar, a barrister, and a judge at both the trial court and appellate levels. His appointment is the result of broad consultations with prominent members of the legal community, and we are confident he will be a strong addition to Canada’s highest court.”

“Justice Brown is a distinguished jurist,” said Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin in a statement. “He brings a rich background as an academic, practitioner and judge. I look forward to his contributions to the court.”

He has an undergraduate degree from the University of British Columbia, and a bachelor of laws degree from the University of Victoria.


Photo: courtesy University of Alberta