Ontario’s top court won’t hear appeal from former Nortel employees

Ontario Court of Appeal calls proposal “not meritorious”

Nortel Networks lab
Nortel Networks lab

Ontario’s top court will not hear an appeal from two former Nortel Networks Corp. employees on long-term disability who argued that a deal to divvy up a remaining US$7.3 billion in the bankrupt company’s assets was unfair.

In a decision Monday, a three-justice panel of the Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed the motion for leave to appeal, calling the proposal “not meritorious.”

The court said the motion, which had sought to challenge the constitutionality of the plan, will not be considered because it was also filed past a court deadline.

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The legal battle over how to divide the remaining assets of the former telecom giant has spanned nearly eight years and involved claimants in Canada, Europe and the U.S.

An agreement reached last October will see Canadian claimants – including the former employees – receive about 57 per cent of the proceeds or about US$4.1 billion.

U.S. claimants will get 24 per cent or roughly US$1.8 billion, with the rest expected to be paid to claimants in Europe.

Nortel filed for bankruptcy in North America and Europe in January 2009.

Once seen as a crown jewel in the Canadian tech scene, the Ontario-based company was once worth nearly $300 billion and employed more than 90,000 people around the world – many in Ottawa – during its height from 1999 to 2000.

Considered to be one of the largest bankruptcy cases in Canadian history, the legal and professional fees of Nortel’s demise have climbed to US$2 billion over the past five years, according to an audit by independent financial analyst Diane Urquhart.

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