Shea Coulson is a commercial litigator with significant experience in partnership and shareholder disputes, disputed buy-outs, collapsing or collapsed transactions and commercial misrepresentation claims. He also provides representation in disputes relating to business valuations, broker fees and deposits, commercial supply agreements, and real estate. In addition, he acts for clients in general contractual litigation.

Shea has developed extensive expertise in white collar defence, and fraud and investigations in addition to cannabis and liquor law, transportation law, and constitutional law. He is recognized as a litigation star in general corporate and constitutional litigation in Benchmark Litigation: Canada.

Acting for public and private companies and high-net-worth individuals, Shea’s clients have included Whirlpool Corporation, EBA Engineering (now Tetra Tech), Canadian National Railway, BMW, FortisBC and the Attorney General of British Columbia.

Shea has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada in numerous constitutional disputes, including on behalf of B.C.’s wine industry in R. v. Comeau, in which the court determined the extent of free trade between provinces that is constitutionally protected under provisions of the Constitution Act, 1867.

Also recognized for his work in administrative law, Shea regularly appears before B.C.’s Supreme Court and Court of Appeal on complex cases both for and against the government of British Columbia and on federal matters.

Shea has acted for a variety of companies in all facets of the cannabis and liquor sectors, and regularly provides licensees and ancillary businesses advice on regulatory compliance with the Cannabis Act and provincial cannabis regulation, as well as provincial retail regulations and provincial monopoly wholesale. Prior to joining McMillan, Shea was the regulatory lead of the national cannabis group at another major firm.

Representative Matters


  • 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 2021 Benchmark Litigation: Canada Guide as a Litigation Star
  • Recognized in the 2020 Benchmark Litigation: Canada Guide as a Litigation Star
  • “Litigation Star”, general corporate commercial and constitutional litigation, 2020 Benchmark Litigation: Canada Guide
  • “Litigation Star”, constitutional and general corporate commercial litigation, Benchmark Canada, 2019

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 by Shea Coulson (4 Posts)

Featured Insight

Litigating During COVID-19: Still Possible

A summary of the key ways to advance or continue litigation during the pandemic.

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May 20, 2020
Featured Insight

Combatting Civil Fraud Against Businesses in the Age of COVID-19

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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Apr 18, 2020
Featured Insight

“Essential” Workplaces and Services – A National Roundup and Best Practices for Managing Business Closures

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

Apr 1, 2020
Featured Insight

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