Category Archives for Business Law

Dhaliwall v. Hook Restaurant Ltd: earning sweaty equity in the restaurant industry

In July, 2021, following a four day trial, the Supreme Court of British Columbia released reasons for judgment in Dhaliwall v Hook Restaurant Ltd. The plaintiff Kayla Dhaliwall is a professional chef. The defendants were three restaurants in Vancouver: Hook, the Blind Sparrow and Bartholomew, where Ms. Dhaliwall acted as executive chef. The reasons for judgment can be read in full here.

At issue in Hook Restaurant was whether or not Ms. Dhaliwall and the defendants had reached a binding agreement with respect to her earning a “sweat equity” interest in the to-be-opened restaurant Bartholomew, and whether as a fall out from those negotiations (which the court found did not result in an enforceable agreement) she quit her employment with the defendants or was terminated.

Unfortunately oral agreements, never properly reduced to writing, are common in the hospitality sector. They are also notoriously difficult to enforce.

In Hook Restaurant the outcome turned largely on the court’s weighing and assessment of oral agreements and incomplete written records. The trial judge concluded that Ms. Dhaliwall and the defendants’ representative Mr. Gayman at best reached “an agreement to agree” on an ownership interest in Bartholomew which is not the same as an enforceable contract.

However, the court did find in Ms. Dhaliwall’s favour that she was wrongfully dismissed from her employment with the defendant restaurant group, who the judge found to be a common employer, and that she was entitled to damages in lieu of seven months’ reasonable notice. The court awarded Ms. Dhaliwall further compensation in the amount of $7,000 on account of contributions she made towards the eventual the opening of the Bartholomew restaurant. The facts of the dispute are summarized below.

Continue reading

BC’s Privacy Commissioner to audit private liquor and cannabis retailers

On November 25th BC’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Michael McEvoy announced that his office will review BC’s licensed private sector liquor and cannabis retailers’ privacy practices under the office’s Audit and Compliance Program. The news release can be read here.

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner ( the “OIPC“) did not release a timeline for the investigation or the issuance of its findings.

Continue reading

Gratuity Included: The Timothy Brown Class Action

Restaurants banning tipping and transitioning to “gratuity included” pricing is not a new concept. While such arrangements rarely last, from time-to-time news breaks of avant-garde restaurateurs who attempt to throw off the tipping yoke, and launch eateries where management (and not patrons) have control over staff compensation leading (in theory) to a more equitable workplace. The thought process is that gratuities left to wait staff, even in establishments that engage in some form of tip pooling, are rarely distributed “fairly” to the important people who work in the kitchen, clear the tables, and take the reservations. The solution? Mark-up menu prices by 20% and pay all staff a living wage.

Continue reading

Brissette v. Cactus Club Cabaret Ltd.

On March 16, 2016 the Supreme Court of British Columbia released its reasons for judgment in Brissette v. Cactus Club Cabaret Ltd. Madam Justice Gropper’s reasons for judgment can be found here. Brissette was a slander case: Mr. Brissette alleged that a manager at the Cactus Club restaurant at Canada Place in Vancouver, B.C. slandered him by making false statements to others that he inappropriately touched the server who was looking after his party that evening. The case has been widely reported in the media.

Continue reading