Nova Scotia

Cape Breton University Students' Union reaches deal with national federation

The Cape Breton University Students' Union and the Canadian Federation of Students have reached an agreement over a court-ordered financial award and legal fees.

Ends court process over legal costs, damages

The Cape Breton University Students Union and the Canadian Federation of Students have negotiated a settlement in their court case. (CBC)

The Cape Breton University Students' Union and the Canadian Federation of Students have reached an agreement over a court-ordered financial award and legal fees.

In a joint statement, the two organizations call the agreement "a mutually satisfactory resolution of their ongoing litigation."

The federation sued the students union last year over its withdrawal from the national group. The students union had claimed it was not getting value for its annual membership fees. A referendum gave the then-union executive a mandate to quit.

An Ontario judge found in favour of the Canadian Federation of Students, saying the CBU students union had not followed proper procedure in its referendum.

The students union was ordered to pay the federation's court costs, damages of almost $300,000, and six years of unpaid dues at $40,000 a year.

The students union appealed; with the out-of-court resolution, that appeal has been abandoned.

Chance for 2019 referendum

The joint statement says the deal "provides that CBUSU remains a member of CFS, while … recognizing CBUSU's financial limitations."

"We're relieved to have this put behind us," said Brandon Ellis, the outgoing president of the Cape Breton University Students' Union.

"We're looking forward to possibly working with CFS to look after the best interests of students across the country but mostly here at home. We're now in a position where we can breathe a little bit."

Ellis would not say whether the agreement, hammered out by the legal council for both groups, involves paying some part of the court award.

The joint statement says the parties have reached an agreement on ongoing membership fees, but provided no details.

It also says the CBU students union will be "entitled to seek a referendum on their continued membership … in the fall of 2019."

The two parties will not comment further on the litigation or its resolution, the statement says.