Corporate support sought on lottery ruling

The lawyer of an Alberta man convicted of conducting an illegal lottery is looking for help from the corporate world to have the decision overturned.On Jan. 11, Alberta Provincial Court Judge J. B. Ritchie ruled against Edward Brennan, saying the man...

The lawyer of an Alberta man convicted of conducting an illegal lottery is looking for help from the corporate world to have the decision overturned.

On Jan. 11, Alberta Provincial Court Judge J. B. Ritchie ruled against Edward Brennan, saying the man broke the law when he sold tickets on a draw for a new car as part of a promotion to sell books of his poetry. [See Opinion by Brenda Pritchard, p 13.]

Brennan’s lawyer, Mark Feehan, of Feehan & Company in Edmonton, has been sending letters to companies that conduct lotteries that appear to contravene the Criminal Code as interpreted by Judge Ritchie.

If the decision is not overturned in the Alberta Court of Appeal it will be applicable across the country, and, therefore, jeopardizes most promotional lotteries.

Feehan hopes other companies participate in the appeal either by contributing financially to the case or by applying for intervener status during the trial, which allows a third party to make a representation in court.

‘That means they would have to hire a lawyer and file material, which means they’d have to throw some money at it,’ Feehan says.

Feehan is concerned that many companies do not realize how important a small case like this can be in terms of setting precedent.

‘[The companies] may think its like a mosquito in a room that you can just walk over and slap, but if the court of appeal upholds it, it’s big trouble,’ he says.

Feehan says he has had responses from a number of companies including Reader’s Digest and Coca-Cola Canada, but their level of involvement is unsure at this point.

The appeal could reach court as soon as next month, but Feehan expects it will likely be later in the year.

‘I’m waiting to see if people will come on board,’ he says.