B.C. Supreme Court judge certifies class-action lawsuit against Hershey Canada Inc. and the Hershey Company

The defendants have denied that child labour and slavery are part of their supply chain

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      A global chocolate food-products company has failed in its bid to thwart a class-action lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court.

      On June 29, Justice Jasmin Ahmad granted plaintiff Scott Leaf's application against Hershey Canada Inc. and the Hershey Company, which manufacture, market, and distribute chocolate confectionary projects.

      The companies have insisted that they oppose the use of child labour and slavery.

      "Mr. Leaf alleges that contrary to those representations, 'child labour and slavery' are present in the defendants’ supply chain. He asserts claims against the defendants in misrepresentation at common law and under the Competition Act," Ahmad wrote in her decision.

      At this point, none of Leaf's allegations have been proven in court. The decision means that if the case goes to trial, judge will address certified issues that apply to all class members.

      The Hershey Company argued that the plaintiff did not establish that he received or relied on any of the pleaded misrepresentations outlined in the notice of civil claim.

      In the alternative, the company maintained that "the plaintiff has failed to particularize the alleged misrepresentations contained in the 'advertising, marketing, or packaging' which Mr. Leaf and [affiant] Mr. [[Michael] Pucci received and on which they relied", according to the ruling.

      The Hershey Company also claimed that the claim did not state expressly that it carries on business in B.C.

      Ahmad, on the other hand, stated in her decision that she's "satisfied that the plaintiff has met the low burden imposed on it to show a good arguable case that THC and HCI operate in joint enterprise in respect of manufacturing, marketing, and sale of Hershey products in British Columbia as alleged in the Claim".

      "That being the case, I am satisfied that for the purposes of this application, THC carries on business on British Columbia," the judge stated.