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CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT - Express terms - Remuneration - Commissions - Interpretation

Wednesday, July 12, 2017 @ 9:36 AM  

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Appeal by the employers, North Country Catering and North Country Camp Services from a partial summary judgment interpreting an employment agreement with the respondent employee, Baim. The respondent was hired by North Country Catering as a Business Development Manager for Catering pursuant to a 2011 written employment agreement. The agreement provided for payment of commissions based on new business generated by the respondent. The respondent developed four new business contracts and received commissions in conjunction with the agreement. In 2014, the respondent's employment was terminated. He received no commissions thereafter. The employment agreement was silent as to whether payment of commissions ceased upon termination of the contract. The court below concluded that the clear and unambiguous wording of the agreement contemplated commission payments continuing over the life of the new business contracts generated by the respondent, regardless of whether the underlying employment agreement was terminated. The court affirmed a Master's order directing an initial payment of further possible commissions due to the respondent. The employers appealed.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. There was no factual dispute precluding summary interpretation of the commission provision. The interpretation of the parties' agreement by the court below was reasonable and did not produce a commercially unreasonable result. Had the employers sought to limit commission entitlement, they could have added clear wording stating no commissions were payable upon termination of employment. The respondent's admission he retained confidential documents did not preclude the correct interpretation of the commission provision. There was no error in the reasoning or decision of the court below in upholding partial judgment on the discrete issue regarding commissions.

Baim v. North Country Catering Ltd., [2017] A.J. No. 668, Alberta Court of Appeal, J.D.B. McDonald, F.L. Schutz and S.L. Martin JJ.A., June 28, 2017. Digest No. TLD-July102017008