Neil Abbott is a partner in the firm's Toronto office. He is recognised as one of the leading construction and consumer finance lawyers in Canada, and is the founding co-chair of both the firm's National Construction Practice Group and the Consumer Finance Law Group.
Neil is a Certified Expert in Construction Law as designated by the Law Society of Upper Canada and has been recognized by Best Lawyers in Canada over the past 10 years. Neil is also a member of the Restructuring, Bankruptcy & Insolvency Group and the Manufacturing Group, and divides his time equally as a litigator and solicitor. He is also an expert in providing advice to Americans doing business in Canada.
Neil has been recognised by his peers as an outstanding mentor and is a frequent lecturer at universities, colleges, professional organizations and the Law Society, particularly in the areas of legal drafting, construction law, consumer law and automotive and equipment finance law.
Neil has appeared in all court levels in Ontario including 13 times in the Court of Appeal as well as the Nunavut Court of Appeal and the Licence Appeal Tribunal. He has also experience in arbitrations and mediations.
Neil sits on the board of directors for Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights. He provides pro bono legal advice in respect to the prosecution of war criminals in Canada and suing foreign governments for violating the rights of Canadian citizens abroad.
Construction Law — As an expert in construction law as certified by The Law Society of Upper Canada, Neil's expertise includes negotiating and drafting all types of construction contracts (including CCDC and CCA), tenders and bids. His practice also deals with enforcement and prosecution of liens, including trial of actions across the Province. Neil provides construction management advice, which includes termination of contracts and retention of completion contractors. He has litigated claims on labour and material payment bonds, performance bonds and bid bonds. He has assumed construction liens in the course of receiverships and regularly provides advice to lenders on the priority between lien claimants and mortgagees. Neil is also an expert in dealing with deficiency and warranty claims, claims for delays and extras for both commercial and residential properties, as well as claims for professional negligence. He regularly acts for municipalities and the Ontario New Home Warranty Programme (Tarion).
Neil specializes in local and international arbitrations, including disputes amongst joint venture partners; between owners and contractors; between consortiums and infrastructure regulations and ministries; and on solar and wind power projects.
Neil is the legal education adviser for the Canadian Geotechnical Engineers Association and has developed a practice in construction and geotechnical issues, such as building on permafrost in Northern regions, including the conduct of a trial and appeal in Nunavut.
Neil is also a member of the Canadian Brownfields Network and an invitation-only participant in the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, particularly in developing policy for the removal of tax liens and the financing of improvements to environmentally damaged properties.
Neil regularly acts for universities in the expropriation of lands as well as community and city building projects
Equipment Finance and Vehicle Finance
Neil primarily acts for secured lenders and lessors in this field. He has advised on lending and recovery of a wide variety of assets, including trucks, trailers, boats, cars, coaches and industrial and construction equipment. Neil provides advice on negotiation and drafting of all types of contracts, based on his many years of enforcing same. He has also litigated priority disputes, receiverships, government seizures and repossessions, Crown priority claims, repair and storage liens, repossessions, dealer defaults and exported collateral. Based on his experience in consumer law, he is also able to provide advice on the entire credit process, including privacy protection and disclosure requirements.
Neil has particular expertise in electronic vehicles and their regulation, development and investment opportunities from abroad. His clients include Tesla Motors, General Electric, Volvo, Ferrari, Chrysler and Honda.
Neil also handles disciplinary proceedings for auto dealers before the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC), as well as drafts contracts such as leases and sales agreements compliant with the Ontario Motor Vehicle Dealers Act.
Neil is a frequent speaker on the future of the automobile and emerging technologies relative to automotive products, including telemetrics, electric vehicles and cloud commuting. He is a longtime member and frequent speaker at Canadian Finance & Leasing Association (Canada) and Equipment and Leasing Finance Association (US).
Neil has extensive experience in Administration Law.
He has appeared before the Licence Appeal Tribunal, the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council Discipline Body. Adjudicators in disputes with Provincial and Federal Governments, Hearings of Necessity under the Expropriation Act and on Judicial Reviews of Administrative Decisions and Appeals to Divisional Court. He frequently counsels on Arbitrations in a wide variety of disputes including construction, partnership and commercial matters.
Consumer Law, Creditors' Rights and Recovery Services/Collections
Neil is an expert on all aspects of consumer law, including cost of credit disclosure, consumer protection, privacy, credit reporting and the rules and regulations respecting all of the foregoing nationally and especially the application of the Ontario Consumer Protection Act, Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act and the Consumer Reporting Act. His clients include banks, institutional and private lenders, subprime, captive and independent finance companies, trade creditors, commercial enterprises, credit card companies, manufacturers, mortgagees and U.S. lenders.
Neil has expertise in drafting terms and conditions; indemnities; warranties and purchase orders.
Neil has also developed a Portfolio Overview and Regulatory Compliance (PORC) practice to provide advice to clients engaged in selling or purchasing a large portfolio of loans. Highlights of the PORC practice include travel to meet with key personnel and onsite vetting of loans for regulatory compliance, including a review of collection procedures, practices and litigation mandates, and preparation of a report of findings to be used in any bid for or tender of a portfolio.
Neil is an experienced practitioner in enforcing the rights of creditors as noted above. He handles both collections of entire portfolios, and individual claims. The claims process includes asset and skip tracing, credit searches, demand through to claim to realization and enforcement. Neil conducts judgment debtor examinations, issues garnishments and sheriff’s seizures of personal and real property. His practice includes claims on guarantees, leases, conditional sales contracts, mortgages, inventory repossession, trade debts, cross-border debts, consumer debts, small business loans, priority disputes both between creditors and the Crown, including deemed trust super priority claims of Canada Revenue Agency.
Bankruptcy and Insolvency — Neil's experience in bankruptcy and insolvency law covers a wide range of activities, including commercial and consumer bankruptcies, reorganizations, receiverships,Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) filings and proposals. He has acted for both secured and unsecured creditors, institutional and private lenders, trustees and receivers, lien claimants and, from time to time, the debtor. Neil provides advice with respect to both pre-bankruptcy and post-bankruptcy asset recovery and/or protection. He has conducted many cross-examinations under the various insolvency Acts, opposed discharges and obtained declarations to commence and continue actions and to have claims survive a bankruptcy.
Neil is a founding member of the firm's Civil Fraud team. He has prosecuted fraudulent claims in areas such as forgery, fraudulent conveyance, absconding debtors, misrepresentation of credit, identity theft, mortgage fraud, negotiation of fraudulent instruments, cheque kiting, “pump and dump” and telemarketing scams. He has acted for a number of regulatory bodies, institutional lenders and small businesses. Neil has contacts in the police and Crown, as well as relationships with forensic accountants, receivers and trustees.
Neil has participated in several conferences on prevention, cyberterrorism and threats to national security with members of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and those in defence industries.
Other Liens — Neil has acted with respect to most liens, including tax, solicitors’, common carriers’, repair and storage and livery-keepers’ liens under the Innkeepers’ Act, including the liens of horse trainers for stable fees and for unpaid race/purse winnings (Re Atto).