Current and Past Professional Activity:
• 1978 - 2015 Tax and trusts lawyer in private practice with select clients throughout Western Canada and internationally: Neil is both a litigation lawyer in these specialty areas and also a solicitor planning and implementing the plans for tax-saving and estates.
He has interpreted, litigated, drafted and edited tax and other legislation over
many years, including proposed tax incentive legislation for the Government of
Alberta, on sub-contract to the World Bank for Pakistan and the Republic of
Trinidad & Tobago.
Neil’s tax practice comprises four sectors, focusing on domestic and international
income tax, and estate, succession and wealth taxes worldwide. It is primarily
federal income tax oriented:
1. Neil has been counsel on many corporate commercial transactions & reorganizations, including both planning and implementation; and structuring, buying and selling businesses in all economic sectors - oil & gas, mining, forestry, agriculture, tourism, advanced technology, real estate development and holdings, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, licensing of technology; transactions include low 9-figures; has been a successful expert witness in Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench respecting technology licensing; has a specialty in oppression remedies and shareholder agreements and disputes;
2. Neil has undertaken sophisticated financial and estate planning, frequently
using inter vivos trusts, domestic and international; This includes a broad focus on private and public charitable trusts and charitable organizations, particularly from the perspective of major donors’ personal foundations and dealings with CRA respecting registration and operation of charities; he is counsel to active charities with combined operating funds of over $80 Million, primarily working internationally in over 30 countries.
probate, estate administration and post-mortem planning, and effective
estate litigation, particularly resulting trusts, spendthrift trusts, Quistclose
trusts, constructive trusts, joint spousal trusts and alter ego trusts;
3. tax litigation in the Tax Court of Canada and Federal Courts, and the
Supreme Court of Canada; over a period of 44 years he has litigated numerous precedent-setting tax cases in Canada:
Mandel (Federal Court Trial Division, SCC) - the leading anti-tax
avoidance case denying leverage in tax shelters where cost was
contingent upon profits
Nova Scotia Sand & Gravel Ltd. (Federal Court Trial Division) - a
leading case on determination of manufacturing and processing
Moldowan (Supreme Court of Canada) - the leading case
interpreting the restricted farm loss rules (now reversed 34 years
later); Kroeker (Federal Court of Appeal) overrules Donnelly (FCA)
Day & Ross (Federal Court Trial Division) - the leading case
allowing fines to be deducted as a business expense (reversed by
Alberta & Southern Gas (Federal Court of Appeal, leave to
Supreme Court of Canada denied) - a leading anti-tax avoidance
case establishing that in interpreting Canadian tax legislation there
is no business purpose test (except in the specific GAAR
provisions); Green (GAAR case applying Continental Bank
limitation in GAAR context: series of transactions, sub judice)
Oxford Shopping Centres Ltd. (Federal Court of Appeal) - the
leading case allowing a deduction contrary to the financial
statement presentation and T2S presentation and outside of the
matching principle of GAAP
Parkland Operations Ltd. (Federal Court Trial Division) - the
leading case allowing the deduction of amounts embezzled by
directors or officers as business expenses
Bellingham (Federal Court of Appeal) - the leading case on tax-free
windfalls for penalty interest in expropriations and similar cases
Mitchell (Federal Court of Appeal) - a high level case forcing CRA
to honour its agreement to apply test cases
Zeitler #1 (BC Supreme Court) – a delay-demand note is not
statute-barred since demand is not presumed to be made, like
ordinary demand promissory notes
Zeitler #2 (BC Court of Appeal) – a term may be implied that a
husband will pay his wife’s income tax on property transferred to
a related aspect is creditor-proofing against CRA: limited insolvency
litigation, priorities, equitable principles in commercial context which relate
to secured creditors and the Queen as a preferred unsecured creditor;
4. international tax-driven transactions, including cross-border Canada-U.S.
transactions, NAFTA, offshore private combined corporate-trust
transactions in havens and favourable treaty or TIEA countries, exits from
Canada, inbound transactions from offshore, the U.S. and the Pacific Rim,
and business-oriented transactions involving documentary credits (e.g.
red-line LCs to ones conditional on presentment of post-inspected bills of
lading, etc.) and secured foreign loans.
Note that a tax practice requires a working knowledge of most of the other main
areas of the law and equity.
In addition to the full tax practice described above, Neil has also done the following,
often concurrent with the tax practice.
• 2004 - 2015 Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, trained in NLP in 1990, partner in Nicholas Clinical Hypnotherapy
• 1994-1996 Resident in the Advanced Technology Centre, Edmonton Research Park (incubator for 26 technology businesses), active in technology development, primarily content development, and research and development tax credits (SRED) and assistance programs
• 1988-1992 Owner/manager of international hi-resolution big-screen projector hardware development corporation;
• 1978-1988 Sessional Lecturer for 11 years in Taxation at the Faculty of Law, University of Alberta: Basic Taxation, Advanced Estate Planning (heavily on Trusts), Advanced Corporate Taxation; Tax author and national lecturer, particularly on Tax Avoidance;
• 1986 Neil’s Law Practice was jointly showcased as an exemplary business by the Legal Education Society of Alberta
• 1978 Established private tax practice
• 1977 Rulings Officer for Corporate Reorganizations, Special Advisor, Revenue Canada, Head Office, Ottawa: level PM6
• 1976 Called to the Bar of British Columbia
• 1975 Called to the Bar of Ontario
• 1974 Senior Counsel for Federal Department of Justice, Taxation Litigation Section, Head Office Ottawa (three times before the Supreme Court of Canada; specialty in anti-tax avoidance cases)
• 1970 Called to the Bar of Alberta
• 1969 First in Alberta to article to the Court, Articled to the Chief Justice of Alberta, S. Bruce Smith
• 1969 Bachelor of Laws, University of Alberta
• 1968 Bachelor of Arts (Economics & Computing Science)
• 1964 Graduated first in class, Grade XII 94.2% average, awarded Best All-Round Student, placed 7th in Canada in Canadian Mathematical Congress Exams
Other business activities:
Through other business interests and the tax practice, Neil has developed solid business strengths including business and financial analysis, thoroughness in investigation and due diligence, ability to structure, negotiate and implement mutually-optimal transactions, organizational and planning skills, and management ability.Trained in ethical influence and a skilled negotiator.
Other Matters and Interests:
Neil has been approved by the Commissioner for Judicial Appointments for appointment
to the Tax Court of Canada.
He has a strong interest in technology matters, primarily computer-based interactive
multimedia content development and intellectual property, with a special interest in
technology licensing and has appeared as an expert witness in Alberta Court of Queen’sBench in respect of technology licensing.
He is a Trained NLP practitioner and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist (1990, CCHt 2004) and was a Presenter to the Brain Injury Association of Canada national Conference, 2010.
Charitable Directorships (retired):
The Water School (USA),
The Brain Injury Association of Canada