Geoffrey Adair

Geoffrey D.E. Adair K.C.


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Geoff is one of Canada’s best-known trial and appellate counsel. The breadth of his experience is virtually unmatched among Canadian litigators. 
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Early on in his career Geoff practiced criminal law  where he gained invaluable courtroom experience trying to verdict among other cases, an even dozen murder trials. His practice evolved over a few years into the field of civil litigation where he went on to try to verdict over 250 jury and non jury cases and argue in excess of 100 appeals before the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada in lawsuits involving sophisticated commercial disputes; professional liability claims; product liability claims; major commercial insurance coverage applications; directors and officers liability cases and significant tort litigation matters arising out of  defamation, wrongful death, and  personal injury situations.

Geoff’s current practice now largely centers on but is not confined to providing advice to other lawyers, arguing appeals, and engaging in claims against insurers and legal malpractice actions.

Over the years Geoff has been committed to teaching and writing in an effort to improve the quality of advocacy and develop future litigators of excellence.  He is the author of On Trial, Advocacy Skills Law and Practice, a leading text on trial advocacy cited as an authority by numerous Ontario Superior Court of Justice trial judges and the Ontario Court of Appeal. He is also a contributing editor to Ontario Courtroom Procedure and has written articles on issues of concern to the profession. 

Geoff regularly contributes to continuing education programs having lectured on four occasions at the Law Society of Upper Canada Annual Special Lecture Series. He has often been called upon to participate in trial and appeal demonstrations hosted by the Advocates’ Society, the Ontario Bar Association, the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association and some for profit groups.  Geoff served for many years as an instructor in the Law Society of Upper Canada Bar Admission course in civil litigation and is a past President of the Canadian Bar Association – Ontario Branch Civil Litigation section.

Geoff's Featured Work

  • O'Connor v. Nolan, 2024 NLSC 5. Acted for the plaintiffs in recovering judgment of $1.87 million in a fraud action before the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court.
  • Baker v. Blue Cross Life Insurance Company of Canada, 2023 ONCA 842. Counsel for the plaintiff/respondent in the Ontario Court of Appeal, successfully upholding the largest punitive damage award against an insurance company in Canadian legal history. 
  • Ontario (Attorney General) v. Norwood Estate, 2021 ONCA 493. Acted for the successful appellant in this case addressing the interpretation of section 18.1(1) of the Civil Remedies Act of Ontario.
  • John Doe v. Bennett, 2004 SCC 17. This appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada raised for the first time the issue as to the liability of the Roman Catholic Church for the torts of individual priests.
  • Martin v. Goldfarb, 1998 CanLII 4150 (ON CA). Represented the successful appellant, setting aside a $9 million trial judgment. The appellate decision remains the leading authority in Canada on the quality of proof required to support an award of damages. 
  • Onex Corporation v. American Home Assurance Company, 2015 ONCA 573. This appeal was the culmination of a directors and officers' insurance claim by Onex Corporation (represented by Geoff), which proceeded through a summary judgment motion, trial, two appeals to the Court of Appeal for Ontario, and two applications for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. Geoff's client was entirely successful in recovering $15 million USD (the full policy limits) from American Home Assurance Company, plus costs. 
  • Horani v. Manulife Financial Corporation, 2023 ONCA 51. Represented the appellant in this case establishing the test for granting leave to amend a pleading after an action is set down for trial. 
  • Citadel General Assurance Co v. Vyligham, 2007 SCC 46. Represented the successful insurer in this appeal before the Supreme Court of Canada defining the limits of automobile insurance claims.
  • Wallbridge v. Brunning, 2018 ONCA 363. Acted for the successful appellants, overturning summary judgment against them arising out of an action addressing another law firm's liability for lawyers "practicing in association" with that firm.
  • Aviva v. 8262900 Canada, 2023 ONSC 2641. Acted for CarePartners in this insurance coverage dispute, obtaining a declaration of coverage for their defence of a class action.
  • Bruff-Murphy v. Gunawardena, 2017 ONCA 502. Acted for the successful applicant in this appeal addressing the evolving role of a trial judge in relation to expert witnesses, and the requirement of such witnesses to stay within the boundary of acceptable conduct.
  • Hanis v. Teevan, 2008 ONCA 793. Counsel for the appellant in this case establishing the law in Canada governing an allocation of defence costs between insurer and insured in cases of mixed claims.
  • Orr v. MTCC, 2015 ONCA 407. Represented the successful appellant in this case concerning legal malpractice and the liability of a condominium corporation to a purchaser. 
  • 2212886 Ontario Inc. v. Obsidian Group Inc., 2018 ONCA 670. Represented the appellant franchisor in successfully overturning an almost $1 million summary judgment for alleged breach of a franchise agreement. 
  • Cavanaugh v. Grenville Christian College2020 ONSC 1133. Represented the defendants at a long trial in this multi-million dollar class action.
  • Author, On Trial, Advocacy Skills Law and Practice
  • Contributing Editor, Ontario Courtroom Procedure
  • Frequent lecturer: Law Society, The Advocates’ Society, Canadian and Ontario Bar Associations, Ontario Trial Lawyers Association
  • Representative clients on litigious matters have included Onex Corporation, Arcelor Mittal Dofasco, University of Illinois, CarePartners Canada, Intact Insurance Company, Coventree Inc., Town of Ajax and numerous law firms.

Bar Admissions

  • Ontario, 1968