Ontario Court of Appeal enforces best practices in RFP processes

March 8, 2021

Inzola Group Limited v. Brampton (City), 2021 ONCA 143

In a March 8, 2021 decision, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the trial decision (2019 ONSC 7632), which dismissed a $28.5 million action brought by Inzola Group Limited (“Inzola”) against the City of Brampton (the “City”) for breach of a procurement process.

In 2009, the City issued a Request for Proposal (“RFP”) for an addition to its City Hall. The RFP process was designed to limit the City Council’s role in the process. The City also engaged an outside expert as a Process and Fairness Advisor, to monitor the process, to ensure its fairness and to report directly to City Council.

The dispute began when Inzola, a Brampton developer with strong ties to the community and Council members, was disqualified from further participation in the RFP process due to breach of several provisions of the RFP. Inzola subsequently commenced an action against the City in 2011, alleging bad faith and bias on the part of the former Mayor and senior staff throughout the process of the RFP. After an eight-week trial, the action was dismissed.

The Court of Appeal upheld the trial judge’s decision, finding that the trial judge:

  1. did not err in finding that the appellant breached a provision of the RFP,
  2. did not err in considering the 2005 Belamy Report, which provided best practices in competitive bidding processes, including the exclusion of elected municipal officials from bid evaluation, and
  3. did not err in concluding that the City met its duty of fair and equal treatment.

The Court of Appeal reaffirmed that Inzola’s breaches outlined in the trial judgement threatened the integrity of the RFP process.

The Court of Appeal ultimately dismissed the appeal, upholding the City’s decision to disqualify Inzola in the RFP process.

Adam Stephens, Dan Rabinowitz and Kate Genest (Commercial Litigation) represented the City in the proceedings.

Our Commercial Litigation Group has a vast depth of experience representing clients in the effective resolution of matters ranging from complex commercial disputes to class actions, and everything in between. Learn more about our full suite of legal services.