With the Ontario Court of Appeal’s January decision in College of Optometrists of Ontario v. SHS Optical Ltd., it’s increasingly clear that Ontario’s courts are ramping up the seriousness with which they view civil contempt and, says Ira Nishisato, a partner at the Toronto office of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP and National Leader of the Firm’s Commercial Litigation Group, 'the breadth of penalties available for civil contempt is enormous.'

'My sense is that defendants prone to disobeying court orders may take the view that contempt proceedings are purely civil, so there’s nothing to worry about it,' says Nishisato. 'And because it’s not an issue that comes up that often, counsel don’t think much about it. But boy can you get hammered these days, especially in cases involving extraordinary relief like Mareva injunctions or Anton Piller orders.'