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Bernie McGarva

Partner* Admitted to the Ontario Bar: 1980

Certified Specialist (Construction Law), Law Society of Ontario

*Practising as a professional corporation

Bernie is an experienced litigator, mediator and arbitrator with an excellent track-record of resolution. For more than 35 years in practice, Bernie has appeared before numerous professional tribunals and all levels of the court, including the Supreme Court of Canada. His specialized expertise in professional liability and construction law has earned him recognition as a leading lawyer in these fields. A skilled negotiator with a calm demeanor, clients trust in Bernie’s ability to resolve disputes efficiently and fairly.

Bernie is a member of the firm's Litigation & Dispute Resolution Group. He practises commercial and construction litigation, with a focus on construction and infrastructure disputes, securities litigation, shareholders' rights disputes, and errors and omissions defence. Bernie’s portfolio of reported cases also includes extensive work in the area of tax appeals acting for commercial clients in disputes with federal and provincial taxing authorities. His professional liability practice includes advising architects, engineers, doctors, dentists, social workers and lawyers on insured negligence claims and discipline related matters.

For the past 14 years, Bernie McGarva has also been offering mediation and arbitration services. He has mediated or arbitrated over 600 cases in areas including construction, insurance, errors and omissions, commercial and real estate contracts, shareholder disputes, franchises and estates. To book a mediation or arbitration date, please contact Debbie Ryan ( or 416.863.1500 ext. 3108).

Awards & Recognition

  • Recipient of the UTS Heartwood Award for Volunteer Service
  • Recognized in The Best Lawyers in Canada in the field of Construction Law and Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Recognized in The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory as a leading lawyer in the area of Construction Law and Professional Liability
  • Recognized in Legal Media Group's Construction Expert Guide
  • Listed in the Lexpert Special Edition: Infrastructure 2020

Professional Involvement


  • Canadian/Ontario Bar Association (Construction Law Section, Past Executive)
  • Toronto Lawyers Association

Representative Matters

Counsel for Albert Friedberg in a landmark case involving year-end commodity straddles and cultural donations

Counsel to Maple Leaf Gardens Limited in litigation with the Public Trustee of Ontario

Represented a defendant in CIBC v. Goodyear, Sayers, et al. ($10 million mechanical snow melting failure at CIBC headquarters in Toronto)

Represented plaintiff in Concord Adex v. R. V. Anderson et al. (driving range golf net failure)

Represented Kostuch Engineering in the South Nation River Conservation Authority case, in the Supreme Court of Canada

Represented franchisors in franchise litigation including Michelle's Baguette and Marvelous Mmmuffins

Acted for the Ontario Cancer Institute against the Ministry of Finance dealing with retail sales tax exemptions

Represented Sudbury Regional Hospital on construction issues on a $200 million project

Consulted as counsel with respect to Three for One Pizza franchise litigation

Represented Tim Hortons in tax litigation

Defended the design architect in the Privest asbestos case in British Columbia before the High Court and Court of Appeal in that province

Represented Page + Steele in successful defence of toxic mould class action

Counsel to Westinghouse in a large co-generation claim in Ontario

Represented Maple Leaf Gardens in class action by shareholders

Represented The Toronto Hospital in tax litigation

Acted for numerous insurers and reinsurers, both in the field of insurance litigation, arbitration and providing advice on underwriting

Selected Speaking Engagements

Co-Presenter, "Anatomy of a Murder Clause," Ontario Association of Architects Annual Conference, May 22, 2019.

Lecturer, "Going Green: A Cautionary Tale," Ontario Association of Architects, 2007.

Lecturer, "Accountants' Liability," Ontario Association of Architects Annual Convention, 2002.

Lecturer, "Takeover Procedures for Architects," Ontario Association of Architects, 1998.

Lecturer, "Design Professionals and the Law of Copyright," Ontario Association of Architects, 1998.

Lecturer, "The Role of the Professional in Product Liability Cases," Insight Conference, 1996.

Chair, Canadian Institute's Product Liability Conference, 1996.

Selected Publications

"BCE Decided by Supreme Court of Canada - A Debt Really is Just a Debt," Aird & Berlis LLP BCE Decision Newsletter, June 2008

"The Gateway to Canada: Aird & Berlis' International Practice Group," CorporateUK, June 2007

"Dumoulin v. Ontario," Construction Law Letter, July 2006

"Rights and Liabilities of Construction and Design Professionals," Construction SuperConference, 2000

"Liability of Design Consultants," Construction SuperConference, 1999

"The Role of the Professional in Product Liability Cases," Insight Conference, 1996

"Legal Risk Management for Architects and Engineers," Meredith Memorial Lectures, 1983-84


  • LLB (Hons.), University of Toronto, 1978
  • BA (Magna Cum Laude), Harvard University, 1975
  • Fellow of the John Fitzgerald Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University