Sunday, 29 October 2017

Scissors Beat Paper; Statutes Beat Scissors: Severability Clauses Can't Fix Illegal Termination Provisions

(c) istock/tommaso79

Everyone knows that in the classic children's game, Rock, Paper, Scissors, scissors beat paper. But can scissors beat statutes?

To the point, can a trial judge use a severability clause to excise the offending portion of a termination provision, keeping the remainder of such provision enforceable? While that question might seem highly academic, it is one of critical importance to anyone employed pursuant to the terms of a written employment contract.

In North v. Metaswitch Networks Corporation, 2017 ONCA 790 (CanLII), the Court of Appeal for Ontario finally laid to rest both this issue and its earlier decision in the much-maligned case of Oudin v. Centre Francophone de Toronto, Inc., 2016 ONCA 514.