Judge gavel, scales of justice and law books in court

A British Columbia court has ruled that a former broker turned industry critic, Larry Bates, can’t provide expert evidence in a proposed class-action suit against TD Asset Management Inc. (TDAM), after concluding that Bates is biased against the banks.

The ruling from the Supreme Court of B.C. involves a proposed class action against TDAM, which claims that investors were systemically overcharged in certain mutual funds — for which TDAM was the trustee and manager — because the funds were “closet indexers” that charged fees for active management but delivered index-tracking performance.

Those allegations have not been proven. The case was certified as a class action in July 2020.

The plaintiff in the case sought to admit testimony and a report from Bates as expert evidence in the case.

However, the court denied the bid, concluding that Bates is biased against the banks and can’t provide objective evidence for this case.

“Mr. L. Bates comes to this court with an unshakeable bias against any ‘big Canadian’ bank,” the court said in its decision, citing as proof the report that Bates provided as well as Twitter posts from him that criticized the banks’ retail investment operations at large.

“In sum, I find Mr. L. Bates to be partisan to the plaintiff class members and is unable to be fair and objective,” the court said. “The current application is one of those ‘quite rare’ cases where a proposed expert’s evidence is ruled inadmissible.”