Matchim v. BGI Atlantic Inc.

In Contracts, Fish Cases on (Updated )

This case involved a dispute between a crab buyer and a crab harvester over whether or not an oral promise to pay a 60 cent per pound bonus above the union negotiated price for crab was a legally enforceable contract. At the trial level, the trial Court relied in part upon the case of Philpott et al v. Sullivan (2007), 267 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 183) to find that the promise was a discretionary payment that attracted no legal obligation (para. 30).

Upon appeal, the a majority judgement of the Court granted an appeal and found a legally enforceable obligation to pay a bonus. It did so, in part, upon the following grounds:

The fact that the discussions regarding payment of 60 cents above and beyond the union price took place in the context of a commercial setting (para. 65-6);
The use of the words "fair market price" instead of "union negotiated price" in the supply and trust agreements; and
The existence of an arbitration clause to resolve disputes between parties regarding price.
A separate minority judgement would have overturned the decision of the trial Court, but would have remitted the matter back for trial instead of granting judgement.