Shea Coulson Photo
Shea Coulson Photo
Shea Coulson Photo

Shea Coulson is a commercial litigator with a broad practice and significant experience in a wide range of matters, including partnership and shareholder disputes, joint venture disputes, disputed buy-outs, collapsing or collapsed transactions, disputes relating to business valuations, broker fees and professional services, commercial supply agreements, and real estate. Shea also acts for shippers in final offer arbitrations under the Canada Transportation Act, and in related  disputes with railways and terminals.

Much of Shea’s commercial disputes work is in the resources, technology, transportation, hospitality, and cannabis sectors where he has acted for many leading companies, including Teck Resources, Taseko Mines, West Fraser Timber, Whirlpool Corporation, EBA Engineering (now Tetra Tech), Canadian National Railway, BMW, Donnelly Group, E&J Gallo, Diageo, Fire & Flower, and FortisBC.

Shea has developed extensive expertise in white collar defence, fraud and investigations, having spent over a decade acting in civil asset seizure cases for the Attorney General of British Columbia. These cases involved complex evidentiary issues involving complex forensic issues, criminal investigations, and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Shea now uses his former ‘prosecutorial’ expertise in acting for companies seeking recovery for fraud and related wrongs.

Also recognized for his work in administrative law, he regularly acts in complex judicial reviews challenging regulatory decisions in a variety of sectors.

Shea is recognized as a litigation star in general corporate and constitutional litigation in Benchmark Litigation: Canada. Shea began his career as a law clerk for two justices of the British Columbia Court of Appeal.

Representative Matters


  • Confidential final offer arbitration under the Canada Transportation Act.
  • Successfully settled disputed buy-out of minority shares in $30 million dispute.
  • Successfully settled complex licensing dispute in the liquor sector.
  • Successfully settled multi-million dollar share claw-back dispute for founders arising from a new tech IPO and subsequent acquisition.
  • Successfully settled complex multi-jurisdiction commercial lease dispute in hospitality sector.
  • Successfully obtained multi-million dollar injunction for alleged fraud on behalf of large corporate client.
  • B.C. Container Trucking Commissioner and Canadian National Transportation Ltd., CTC Decision No. 02/2019: Successfully defended Canadian National Transportation Ltd. in a regulatory audit of its trucking operations by the B.C. Container Trucking Commissioner. Saved the client millions of dollars in potential payments and fines. Successfully defended the legitimacy of its collective agreement in the context of rate requirements under the provincial Container Trucking Act.
  • R. v. Comeau, 2018 SCC 15: Advising as lead counsel for a group of British Columbia wineries at the Supreme Court of Canada in the landmark case determining for the first time in modern Canadian history the meaning of s. 121 of the Constitution Act, 1867 (Canada’s free-trade provision).
  • Director of Employment Standards and Sun, Huigang, Besco International Investment Co Ltd., Wiston Building Materials Ltd., Viceroy Houses (2015) Ltd., et. al., ER #186- 601: Successfully defending a group of companies in an unusually complex employment standards matter arising from numerous complaints filed following an asset acquisition within a complex bankruptcy and insolvency proceeding.
  • British Columbia (Director of Civil Forfeiture) v. Johnson, 2016 BCSC 1570: Advising the Director of Civil Forfeiture in an important case applying the Charter to civil forfeiture proceedings. Successful on all major Charter breach issues.
  • Goodwin v. British Columbia (Superintendent of Motor Vehicles), 2015 SCC 46: Advising as lead counsel for the drivers arguing BC’s administrative roadside prohibition impaired driving law violated section 8 of the Charter.
  • ATL Trucking LTD. et al v. Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, 2015 FC 520: Advising as co-counsel in a successful judicial review of decisions by Port Metro Vancouver to deny licenses to almost 30 companies representing hundreds of trucks for access to the Port to conduct local shipping and drayage.
  • Provincial Court Judges’ Association v. British Columbia (Attorney General), 2015 BCCA 136: Advising as co-counsel for the government of British Columbia on an appeal of the constitutional petition by the Provincial Court Judges’ Association challenging the Province’s decision on Provincial Judges compensation.
  • Provincial Court Judges’ Association of British Columbia v. Attorney General of British Columbia, 2014 BCSC 336: Advising as co-counsel for the government of British Columbia in the constitutional petition by the Provincial Court Judges’ Association challenging the Province’s decision on Provincial Judges compensation.
  • 18320 Holdings Inc. v. Thibeau, 2014 BCCA 494: Advising as co-counsel on the leading case in British Columbia on tribunal standing to make submissions in judicial review and on costs awards against tribunals.
  • Sivia, Goodwin et al. v. British Columbia (Superintendent of Motor Vehicles), 2014 BCCA 79: Advising as co-counsel on the constitutional challenge to British Columbia’s administrative impaired driving regime. This case was ultimately heard by the Supreme Court of Canada.
  • 18320 Holdings Inc. v. Thibeau et al, 2013 BCSC 539 and 2013 BCSC 1677: Advising as co-counsel on a successful judicial review of Student Aid British Columbia’s decision to prohibit some private post-secondary institutions from enrolling students with government student loans.
  • IAT Air Cargo Facilities Income Fund v. BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc., 2010 BCSC 1965 and 2011 BCCA 226: Advising as co-counsel in contract dispute involving unjust enrichment claim for improperly paid commission for financial services. Was successful at trial and upheld on appeal.

Cannabis and Liquor Regulatory

  • Zenabis Global Inc.: Advised on a confidential transaction in the cannabis industry.
  • Experion Biotechnologies Inc.: Advised on multiple confidential transactions in the cannabis industry.
  • Truss Beverages: Regulatory and licensing advice.
  • Fire & Flower Inc.: Regulatory advice on multiple retail transactions.
  • Benchmark Botanics Inc.: Regulatory experience.
  • Confidential client, federal licenced producer: Regulatory advice in relation to a Canadian-Australian transaction.
  • Confidential client, federal licenced producer: Regulatory advice relating to cannabis promotion.
  • Confidential First Nations client: Regulatory advice (provincial and federal) and ongoing corporate business advice in the cannabis sector.
  • Burb Cannabis Corp.: Regulatory advice regarding cannabis retail.
  • E. & J. Gallo Winery: Regulatory advice.
  • Diageo Canada Inc.: Regulatory and commercial advice.
  • Numerous British Columbia wineries: Regulatory enforcement, regulatory compliance and commercial litigation.
  • Numerous British Columbia liquor importers and agents: Regulatory enforcement, regulatory compliance and commercial litigation.
  • Numerous British Columbia liquor licensees: Liquor enforcement, judicial review and regulatory compliance.
  • Alliance of beverage licensees of British Columbia: Ongoing regulatory advice.
  • Large British Columbia restaurant chain: Regulatory compliance and enforcement.
  • Large Alberta brewery: Regulatory and commercial advice.
  • Private liquor retailers: Advising in a months-long policy review process with the City of Vancouver that resulted in the City Council voting to support a motion to allow grocery stores to open a “store within a store” but to prohibit “wine on grocery shelves”.
  • Group of hospitality businesses: Advising in relation to British Columbia’s liquor policy review, including developing and drafting submission on regulatory reform.

Teaching Engagements

  • Taught constitutional remedies at UBC’s Allard Hall Law School – 2013-2015


Rankings & Recognition

  • Recognized in the 2022 Benchmark Litigation: Canada Guide as a Litigation Star

  • Benchmark Litigation Canada Guide (2021): Litigation Star, general corporate commercial and constitutional litigation

  • Benchmark Litigation Canada Guide (2020): Litigation Star, general corporate commercial and constitutional litigation

  • Benchmark Litigation Canada Guide (2019): Litigation Star, general corporate commercial and constitutional litigation

Community Involvement

  • Board member, BC Hospitality Foundation (2017-2020)
  • Member of planning committee, Vancouver International Wine Festival (2019)

Directorships & Affiliations

  • Former Member, board of directors, BC Hospitality Foundation
  • Former Member of planning committee, Vancouver International Wine Festival
  • Former Member, Advocate’s Club
  • Former Co-chair CBA Administrative Law Subsection

Education & Admissions

Called to the BC Bar
JD University of British Columbia
PhD program York University
MA University of Western Ontario
BA (Honours) University of Toronto


  • “Applying for a Non-Medical Cannabis Retail Licence in BC,” Cannabis Retailer, Summer, 2018
  • “Normative Ethics and the Changing Face of Legal Technology: Or, How to Stay Relevant in a Transformed Profession,” The Advocate, Vol. 75, Part 5, Sept 2017
  • “Reviewing the Consequences of Search or Seizure in Administrative Regimes,” UBC Law Review, (2017) 50:1 UBC L Rev 39, Feb 2017
  • “BC Court of Appeal Maintains Status Quo With Administrative Roadside Prohibition Judgment,” The Publican, May 2014
  • “Police Practices and Impaired Driving under the Automatic Roadside Prohibition Regime,” The Publican, May 2013
  • “Using Section 8 of the Charter in the Administrative Context,” Lawyer’s Weekly, Dec 7, 2012
  • “Missing Pieces: Administrative Bodies and the Deliberative Secrecy Doctrine,” Lawyer’s Weekly, Dec 2011
  • “Palpable and Overriding Confusion: Appellate Review of Certification Orders in Canada,” Canadian Class Action Review, Vol. 7, Issue 1, Nov 2011
  • “From Backwater to Next Big Thing: The Barriers and Boundaries of British Columbia’s Wine Industry,”Palate Press and Wine Business Magazine, Feb 2010
  • “Liberty, Property and the Environment: Rethinking Environmental Law in Canada,”Windsor Review of Legal and Social Issues, Feb 2009
  • “Funnier Than Unhappiness: Adorno and the Art of Laughter,” New German Critique 100, Vol. 34, No. 1, Feb 2007
  • “Adorno’s Aesthetics of Critique,” Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007

Insights (5 Posts)

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Fraud is a fact of business life and is increasing during COVID-19. Businesses can take steps to maximize the chances of civil asset recovery.

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This webinar will discuss the nationwide impacts, rules and regulations for defining “essential” workplaces and services and the closure of non-essential businesses.

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COVID-19: New Emergency Rules for Operating Businesses in BC: How to Comply with BC’s “Essential Business” and Public Health Orders

This bulletin discusses how to keep your business open by complying with BC government emergency orders and public health orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Mar 27, 2020