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Shea Coulson


Shea assists public and privately held companies with complex business to business, shareholder, governance, and regulatory disputes. Shea has led a wide-range of business disputes in numerous sectors, including the forest products, mining, ‎transportation, ‎technology services, real estate, liquor, hospitality, and ‎cannabis industries. He has dealt with disputes arising out of transactions (representations and warranties, share claw-backs and earn-out disputes, material adverse effect, material breach, and complex damages assessments), financings, commercial supply and services agreements, agency agreements, business valuations, complex partnership and JV structures, and corporate fraud. He advises public issuers in a ‎‎range of industries with disputes arising out of capital markets ‎financing and assists Canadian Investment Regulatory ‎Organization regulated ‎investment banks with a ‎variety of regulatory and commercial matters.‎ Shea also advises businesses and governmental entities who create, deploy, or use artificial intelligence, with respect to AI governance, risk management, regulation, compliance, and related litigation. 

Shea is recognized for his work in constitutional and administrative law and has acted for governments, agencies, and private enterprise in a wide range of complex public law disputes, enforcement, and advisory work. This includes experience in transportation, infrastructure, education, health, real estate regulation, insurance regulation, and securities regulation. Shea is a thought leader on issues involving the administratization of justice, constitutional / administrative procedural fairness protections, and the use of artificial intelligence in administrative decision making, having acted in constitutional cases involving the creation of new administrative regimes designed to improve efficiency in matters traditionally addressed by criminal law or the courts. Shea formerly taught constitutional remedies at UBC's Peter A. Allard School of Law.

Shea is a leader in DLA Piper’s Chambers Band 1 rail transportation practice, and acts regularly for shippers and users of Canadian railways in arbitrations under the Canada Transportation Act and regulatory proceedings before the Canadian Transportation Agency relating to rail freight rates and service issues. Shea also acts for shippers and terminals in related commercial disputes. 

Shea has been ranked as a “Litigation Star” in commercial and constitutional litigation by Benchmark Litigation each year since 2019. Shea began his career as a law clerk for two justices of the British Columbia Court of Appeal.

Bar admissionsBritish Columbia, 2010


  • Successful defence of $10 million right of first refusal arbitration brought against a reporting issuer arising out of public markets financing.
  • Confidential final offer arbitration under the Canada Transportation Act, 2022.
  • Level of Service Complaint under the Canada Transportation Act, 2022.
  • Confidential final offer arbitration under the Canada Transportation Act, 2021.
  • Successfully settled complex multi-million dollar partnership and taxation dispute.
  • Successfully removed valuator from valuation dispute.
    • Successfully settled disputed buy-out of minority shares in $30 million dispute.
  • Successfully settled complex licensing dispute in the liquor sector.
  • Successfully settled multi-million dollar share claw-back dispute for founders arising from a new tech IPO and subsequent acquisition.
  • Successfully settled complex multi-jurisdiction commercial lease dispute in hospitality sector.
  • Successfully obtained multi-million dollar injunction for alleged fraud on behalf of large corporate client.
  • 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): R. v. Comeau, 2018 SCC 15. 
  • Counsel for the Director of Civil Forfeiture in important case applying the Charter to civil forfeiture proceedings. Successful on all major Charter breach issues: British Columbia (Director of Civil Forfeiture) v. Johnson, 2016 BCSC 1570. 
  • Lead counsel for the drivers successfully arguing BC's administrative roadside prohibition impaired driving law violated section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms: Goodwin v. British Columbia (Superintendent of Motor Vehicles), 2015 SCC 46; Sivia, Goodwin et al. v. British Columbia (Superintendent of Motor Vehicles), 2014 BCCA 79.
  • 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: ATL Trucking LTD. et al v. Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, 2015 FC 520.
  • Counsel for the Government of British Columbia in constitutional dispute with the Provincial Court Judges’ Association respecting judicial compensation: Provincial Court Judges’ Association of British Columbia v. Attorney General of British Columbia, 2014 BCSC 336; Provincial Court Judges' Association v. British Columbia (Attorney General), 2015 BCCA 136.
  • Counsel on precedent-setting case on tribunal standing to make submissions in judicial review and on costs awards against tribunals: 18320 Holdings Inc. v. Thibeau, 2014 BCCA 494
  • English
  • JD, University of British Columbia, ‎‎2009‎
  • PhD, York University, 2006‎
  • MA, University of Western Ontario, ‎‎2005‎

    BA (Honours), University of Toronto, ‎‎2003‎

Publications and media

  • Author, “Cullen Commission on money laundering, part two”, The Lawyer’s Daily, July 27, 2022‎
  • Author, “Cullen Commission report on money laundering, part one”, The Lawyer’s Daily, July 25, 2022
  • Author, “Applying for a Non-Medical Cannabis Retail License in BC”, Cannabis Retailer, 2018‎
  • Interviewed by the CBC in “5 B.C. Wineries head to Supreme Court over provincial shipping laws”, October 13, 2017.
  • Author, “Normative Ethics and The Changing Face of Legal Technology: Or, How to Stay Relevant in a Transformed Profession”, The Advocate, Vol. 75, Part 5, September 1, 2017
  • Author, “Reviewing the Consequences of Search and Seizure in Administrative Regimes”, UBC Law Review, (2017) 50L1 UBC L Rev 39, Feb 1, 2017
  • Interview on the CBC regarding the Supreme Court of Canada’s Decision in Goodwin v. British Columbia, CBC, October 1, 2015
  • Author, “Using Section 8 of the Charter in the Administrative Context”, Lawyer’s Weekly, December 7, 2012
  • Author, “Missing Pieces: Administrative Bodies and the Deliberative Secrecy Doctrine”, Lawyer’s Weekly, December 1, 2011
  • Author, “Liberty, Property and the Environment: Rethinking Environmental Law in Canada”, Windsor Review of Legal and Social Issues, February 1, 2009.

Community Involvement

  • Board member, BC Hospitality Foundation (2017-2020)‎
  • Member of planning committee, Vancouver International Wine Festival (2019)‎

Memberships and 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