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Łutsel K’e Dene First Nation lawsuit focusing on conflicts of interest – CBC

Feb 08, 2024

Judge to decide whether former lawyers to be added to lawsuit against former CEO Ron Barlas

A lawsuit alleging that millions of dollars were taken from companies owned by the Łutsel K’e Dene First Nation (LKDFN) in the N.W.T. has devolved into a battle between two groups of lawyers.

In one corner are the lawyers representing the First Nation in the lawsuit alleging former CEO Ron Barlas used his position to bilk its companies out of millions of dollars. In a recent filing, they asked the courts to expand the lawsuit to include the lawyers who represented the companies during Barlas’s reign, alleging they were working more for Barlas than the LKDFN companies.

In the other corner are the companies’ former lawyers, all partners for the same Edmonton law firm, Reynolds Mirth Richards and Farmer LLP. The firm represented the Łutsel K’e companies until May 2023.

In one of his last acts as CEO, Barlas had the companies pay the firm a $500,000 retainer. The firm was initially reluctant to return the money, but did when pressed by the LKDFN lawyers. At around the same time it stopped representing the companies.

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