Quebec judge wants meeting on Churchill suit

Rob Antle
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Energy

The chief justice of Quebec's Superior Court has asked to see lawyers from both sides of a lawsuit that seeks redress for Newfoundland and Labrador on the Upper Churchill power contract.

"It's a procedural meeting, it appears, where the chief justice has given them a series of questions with respect to how it would proceed," Nalcor Energy CEO Ed Martin told The Telegram this week.

The chief justice of Quebec's Superior Court has asked to see lawyers from both sides of a lawsuit that seeks redress for Newfoundland and Labrador on the Upper Churchill power contract.

"It's a procedural meeting, it appears, where the chief justice has given them a series of questions with respect to how it would proceed," Nalcor Energy CEO Ed Martin told The Telegram this week.

"So, that's the next step ... It's progressing. That's what we were expecting, and that's what's unfolding."

The meeting with the top judge is scheduled for April.

Last month, Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corp. Ltd. officially launched court action against Hydro-Quebec related to the lopsided Upper Churchill deal.

CF(L)Co is seeking roughly an additional half a billion dollars per year from the Quebec power giant.

"We are asking the court to amend the contract pricing terms to address the inequity which has resulted from unforeseen circumstances," Martin said when the lawsuit was filed.

Nalcor - Newfoundland and Labrador's Crown energy corporation - owns roughly two-thirds of CF(L)Co, which operates the Upper Churchill power plant.

The lawsuit followed a written request sent by CF(L)Co to Hydro-Quebec last fall. The letter sought a renegotiation of the 1969 deal. Hydro-Quebec did not reply.

The pending court action relates to good faith provisions of Quebec civil law.

Newfoundland and Labrador officials have stressed it is different from previous failed efforts to overturn the power deal - arguments that were ultimately rejected by the Supreme Court of Canada.

This week, Martin said Hydro-Quebec has yet to file a statement of defence in the current case.

"The process is unfolding as we expected it to unfold," Martin said.

Previously, Nalcor officials estimated the court challenge could take years to wind its way through the Quebec court system.

rantle@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Hydro-Quebec, Superior Court, The Telegram Supreme Court of Canada

Geographic location: Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador

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