Skip to content

Laurentian asking courts to unseal docs kept secret during CCAA

The documents in question are letters between the insolvent university and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities
120922_Laurentian_File_10

Laurentian University plans to ask permission to finally make public letters between LU and the province that were sealed by the courts at the beginning of its insolvency in early 2021.

On Sept. 14, the university’s creditors voted narrowly in favour of Laurentian University’s plan of arrangement, allowing Laurentian to clear a major hurdle to finally being able to exit creditor protection.

A plan of arrangement is essentially a plan put forward by an insolvent organization to pay out its creditors, and it must be approved by these creditors.

Laurentian expects to go back to court Oct. 5 to seek a “sanction order motion” which approves the plan of arrangement, authorizes its implementation, and releases creditors’ claims against the university. 

It would also terminate the stay of proceedings protecting Laurentian against its creditors as of the implementation of the plan of arrangement. Laurentian plans to ask for creditor protection to be extended until Nov. 30 as it implements its debt plan.

Documents filed before the courts ahead of the Oct. 5 hearing also say Laurentian is seeking an “order unsealing the Sealed Exhibits to the Initial Haché Affidavit, on the Plan Implementation Date.”

Those documents are referred to as “Confidential Exhibit EEE” and “Confidential Exhibit FFF.”

They were sealed from the public record at the beginning of Laurentian’s insolvency “pending further order of the court.”

During a hearing on Feb. 10, 2021, lawyers for the Laurentian University Faculty Association (or LUFA) and the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (or OCUFA) complained about the sealing order.

The lawyers said the documents are letters written in late January of 2021 between Laurentian and the province.

D.J. Miller, the legal counsel for Laurentian, said at the time that the sealed documents were “not something that should be disclosed on the eve of mediation, or at all, in our view.”

“It is something that reflects the commercial position of the university and the reality of the financial circumstances in which it finds itself,” Miller said.

The sealing order was eventually appealed by LUFA and OCUFA, along with the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

But on March 31, 2021, the Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed the unions’ appeal, and upheld the sealing order.

The sealing order for these documents even remained in place after the Ontario government issued a rare Speaker’s Warrant, compelling Laurentian to produce documents as Ontario’s auditor general conducted an investigation.

“LU, LUFA and LUSU (Laurentian University Staff Union) have held discussions regarding removing the sealing provisions of the Initial Order at the conclusion of the CCAA proceedings,” said the court documents filed ahead of the Oct. 5 hearing.

“LU, LUFA and LUSU have agreed that upon Plan Implementation, the Sealed Exhibits should no longer be sealed from the public record.”

The court document says “LU confirmed with the MCU (the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities), the other party to the letters contained in the Sealed Exhibits, that it does not oppose the unsealing of the letters upon Plan Implementation.

“Accordingly, LU is seeking the Unsealing Order to permit the Sealed Exhibits to become unsealed upon Plan Implementation.”

Ernst & Young, the court-appointed monitor of Laurentian’s insolvency proceedings, said it supports the unsealing order, given that “both parties to the letters have agreed to the unsealing of the Sealed Exhibits.”

Heidi Ulrichsen is the associate content editor at Sudbury.com. She also covers education and the arts scene.