Richard Butler

BA (Hons), MA, LLB (Victoria)

On completing law school, Richard Butler articled with the British Columbia Ministry of Attorney General and provided legal advice and representation to government in various practice areas over his entire career.

From 1991 to 2005, he represented the government on almost every major corporate insolvency involving governmental issues and interests. He was also deeply involved in developing the law on student loan bankruptcies.

In 2002, he represented the Attorney General in a charitable trust case involving the Christian Brothers of Ireland in Canada and claims for sexual abuse at Mount Cashel orphanage. He appeared in court in B.C. and then in Ontario, and mediated a settlement to avoid sale of Vancouver College and St. Thomas More Collegiate.

Following from that case, he developed the policy and had a leading role in the enactment of the British Columbia Charitable Purposes Preservation Act, and he later appeared in insolvency proceedings of The Land Conservancy involving the application of that Act.

In 2005, the focus of Mr. Butler's practice shifted toward constitutional and administrative law. He represented the Attorney General as counsel in important constitutional cases at all levels of court, including numerous appearances as counsel in the Supreme Court of Canada.

From around 2009, Mr. Butler has been a some-time member of the British Columbia Supreme Court Model Insolvency Order Committee and has published a series of articles and spoken at local and national conferences about how the constitutional doctrine of paramountcy properly applies in insolvency proceedings.

Increasingly during the latter years of his practice, Mr. Butler’s work involved assisting government in responding to some of the most pressing and/or politically sensitive issues of the day. For example, he provided advice on the legal challenges involved in setting up a national inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Girls and Women; on the Milburn report into disfunction at the Vancouver School Board and the German report into money laundering; and he coordinated the government’s response to the Auditor General’s review of the Mount Polley mine dam failure (among other audits) and the Ombudsperson’s investigation into the Ministry of Health firings. Mr. Butler retired from government work in 2019.

Mr. Butler has taught Bankruptcy and Restructuring Law with us since 2014, as well as Secured Transactions and Creditors’ Remedies. He has also made guest appearances at TRU in classes on defamation, charitable trusts and other matters.

Mr. Butler’s commitment to the mentorship and professional development of law students extends beyond the classroom. He supports students in publishing essays on Bankruptcy Law and has created opportunities for students to attend conferences in Bankruptcy Law at a reduced fee, thereby fostering access to the practice and the profession.

In 2021, he paused his teaching with us in order to pursue a book on Indigenous politics, law and art. Once that is done, he hopes to return to TRU law to teach additional courses.

  1. "Is Notice of Constitutional Question Required in Criminal Proceedings?" (2008), The Advocate Vol. 66 Part 1, page 55 and Part 2. page 201
  2. "Using Federal Paramountcy to Get the Job Done in Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act Proceedings" (2008), Fourth Annual Pan-Canadian Insolvency and Restructuring Conference, Canadian Bar Association
  3. "Defamation, Media Privilege and the Charter: Cusson v Quan and Grant v Torstar Corp.", (three parts) April 23, 24 and 25, 2009
  4. "Reshaping the "Living Tree": Recent Developments in the Division of Powers under Canada's Constitution", February 9, 2010
  5. "The Division of Powers Before and After Consolidated Fastfrate", March 2, 2010
  6. "The Passing of Reputation: Recent Developments in the law of Defamation in Canada" (2010), The Advocate Vol. 68, page 539
  7. "Matters of a Merely Local Nature? Subsidiarity and the Distribution of Powers under Canada's Constitution" (2010), Canadian Bar Association, British Columbia Branch, subsection papers
  8. "Restructuring Objectives Aren't Always Paramount" Annual Review of Insolvency Law 2010 (Carswell, 2011)
  9. "Environmental Issues under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act after Newfoundland and Labrador v AbitibiBowater Inc.  A Legislative Response?" (2012), Insolvency Institute of Canada conference papers
  10. "Case comment: Newfoundland and Labrador v AbitibiBowater Inc. 'Not quite the conflagration we'd been banking on'" Annual Review of Insolvency Law 2012 (Carswell 2013)
  11. "The Ghost in the Machine: Constitutional Underpinnings of the Supreme Court of Canada's Decision-making in AbitibiBowater and Indalex" (2013), Ninth Annual Pan-Canadian Insolvency and Restructuring Conference, Canadian Bar Association
  12. "Wreckage Still Litters the Intersection: Comment on the Ontario Court of Appeal decisions in Nortel Networks and Northstar Aerospace and beyond" Annual Review of Insolvency Law 2013 (Carswell, 2014)
  13. ”Understanding Redwater” (2019) 34.3 BFLR 46
  1. Represented Canadian Counsel of Ministers of Environment at plenary session of Bankruptcy and Insolvency Advisory Committee meetings in Ottawa, and follow-up week-long study session on amendments to BIA and CCAA provisions dealing with environmental remediation (1996-97)
  2. Presentation on access to justice at Canadian Bar Association aboriginal law subsection meeting (2006)
  3. Presentation of paper on paramountcy at Fourth Annual Pan-Canadian Insolvency and Restructuring Conference (2008)
  4. Presentation of paper on subsidiarity and constitutional distribution of powers at Canadian Bar Association municipal law subsection meeting (2010)
  5. Presentation of paper on paramountcy at Eighth Annual Review of Insolvency Law Conference (2010)
  6. Presentation of paper on paramountcy at Insolvency Institute of Canada Annual Conference (Sept. 2012)
  7. Presentations on the standard of review in administrative decision-making as an in-house CLE within the government, at a Thompson Rivers University administrative law class (February, 2013), to the British Columbia Circle of Chairs of Administrative Tribunals (April, 2013) and to their counsel (June, 2013)
  8. Presentation on recent developments in insolvency law at the Supreme Court of Canada to the Canadian Bar Association, bankruptcy and insolvency subsection meeting (April, 2013)
  9. Presentation of paper on Nortel and Northstar at Annual Review of Insolvency Law (February, 2014)