"Practising family law is more than a career – it's my calling. I thrive on helping people move forward. I have and will go to the Supreme Court of Canada to achieve a fair and positive result for my client."
Lorne MacLean, K.C. (King’s Counsel) is the founder of top-rated MacLean Law and one of Canada’s most experienced and highly rated family lawyers dedicated to family law and divorce in British Columbia. MacLean has been chosen as a top 25 Canadian Lawyer and a Leading Business BIV BC 500 winner in the field of family law. Lorne has successfully protected clients’ rights since 1983 in the field of high net worth and complex family law disputes, dealing with issues such as spousal and child support, property division, child custody, guardianship and access, and marriage-like relationships.
He has earned a reputation as a tough yet thoughtful advocate for his clients. Lorne MacLean’s K.C. designation is an honour that recognizes his exceptional merit and contribution to the BC legal profession.
Lorne has had the rare honour of making two appearances before the Supreme Court of Canada on behalf of the appellants in complex family law cases. Young v. Young remains the leading case on child custody in Canada and Leskun v. Leskun established key principles to be applied to spousal support decisions and when support can be reviewed. MacLean has even more wins on SCC leave applications in cases involving family businesses and express trusts.
He also successfully represented Juanita Nott in Canada’s first frozen embryo custody dispute. Lorne’s infamous high net asset victory includes a record 2019 victory in Devathasan v Devathasan where over $116,000 of combined child and spousal support was awarded along with $20,000 million of property, over $6,000,000 of lump sum support and $1.5 million of special costs. See the Vancouver Sun article here.
Other major wins include a 2019 win in the BC Court of Appeal in Li v. Rao – a high profile multimillion dollar void marriage family case and Lightle v. Kotar where spousal support was nearly tripled and a stock broker’s book of business was deemed family property for the first time.
In addition to his courtroom work, Lorne MacLean has published prolifically on numerous topics relating to BC family law and BC divorce. He is a video and blog author and frequent guest on radio and television shows, including Judge Harvey Brownstone’s popular legal education show “Family Matters.”
A sought-after resource for both Canadian and US magazines and newspapers, he has also served as a guest lecturer at the UBC Law School and has lectured and been interviewed about his multiple innovations in the efficient delivery of client-based services that increase clients’ participation in – and reduce clients’ costs of their cases. He also provides considerable free family law information to the general public.
Lorne MacLean lives life to the fullest, loves jazz music, strategy games, and travelling with his family. He especially loves to find the “hidden gems” in the cities he visits on his world travels. Along with keeping his mind sharp, Lorne is avid about keeping physically healthy with bootcamps and cross-fit.
Supreme Court of Canada Cases
Xu v Hu 2020 SCC – leading case on express trusts between spouses and extended family members. MacLean acted for the father in law in a case where his son in law claimed $100 million and was awarded zero.
Kotar v Lightle, 2015 SCC Successfully dismissed a Supreme Court of Canada leave to appeal on the high net worth financial family property and support issue of a stockbroker’s book of business which sent shockwaves throughout the stockbroker community. Family law – Family assets – Division – Valuation – Book of business: – Whether a “book of business” arising out of a spouse’s employment as an investment advisor is family property, and if so, whether and how to determine and realize its value; – Whether a party who fails to introduce admissible expert opinion evidence as to the value of property at trial should be granted a “second trial” to introduce such evidence; – Whether fictional assumption imposed for the purpose of valuation is supportable at law, and; – Whether the purpose of family law legislation in British Columbia is to address the disproportionate effects of marriage upon the ability of child-rearing spouses to become independent following the dissolution of marriage.
Leskun v. Leskun, 2006 SCC 25 Established key principles for spousal support decisions.
Young v. Young, 1993 4 S.C.R. 3 Successfully represented wife on leading Canadian case on child custody, guardianship and special costs.
British Columbia Court of Appeal Cases
Xu v Hu, 2021 BCCA 2 2020 Lorne MacLean KC and Susanna Chen won an important multimillion-dollar family law appeal where the son in law of their client sought $50 million at trial. The claim was restricted at trial to 25% of the equity in a multimillion-dollar Shaughnessy home. On Appeal by MacLean Law the BC Court of Appeal held the 3 certainties required for an “express trust” were not met. MacLean Law argued he should receive zero and won a total victory.
Devathasan v. Devathasan, 2020 BCCA 209 Canadian record property division, support and special costs award upheld on appeal. Our client applied for an order that the underlying appeal be dismissed as abandoned for the failure of the appellant to comply with the conditions of an order extending time for the filing and serving of the notice of appeal, and filing of the appeal record and transcripts.
Held: Application granted, appeal dismissed as abandoned. A single justice in Chambers has jurisdiction to dismiss an appeal as abandoned due to failure to meet the conditions of an extension of time order, pursuant to s. 10(2)(e) of the Court of Appeal Act. The appellant has a long history of noncompliance with court orders. His argument that he is unable to meet the conditions of the order for extension of time were previously rejected and the appellant has simply made choices not to comply with the order. The appellant has no reasonable explanation for his noncompliance with the order that would change the balance of the interests of justice. In the end result the multimillion dollar property awards, record setting $116,000 a month spousal and child support award, the multimillion dollar lump sum award and the record $1.5 million special costs award were all upheld.
Devathasan v. Devathasan, 2020 BCCA 115 The appellant applied under s. 9 of the Court of Appeal Act to vary the conditions established by a single justice in granting his application for an extension of time to commence his appeal. The conditions require the appellant to pay a minor portion of the sums owing to the respondent under the order appealed.
Held: Application successfully dismissed. The appellant did not meet the criteria for a variation established in Haldorson v. Coquitlam (City), 2000 BCCA 672.
Devathasan v. Devathasan, 2019 BCCA 436 The appellant applies for an extension of time to appeal an order concerning the division of assets and spousal and child support. He has not complied with the order.
Held: Application granted, subject to conditions that would bring the appellant in partial compliance with the order under appeal. One of the highest awards for conditions in BC and cited as a top 5 BC Appeal decision.
Li v Rao, 2019 BCCA 265 Lorne MacLean, KC won at trial and in the BC Court of Appeal on a multimillion dollar international divorce case. Appeal from dismissal of application to strike a claim for division of property and spousal support under Family Law Act. Appellant argued the judge erred in concluding that a party to a marriage that is declared void ab initio is a “spouse” within the meaning of the Family Law Act.
Held: Appeal dismissed. The judge did not err in interpreting the definition of “spouse”. Parties to a marriage that is declared void ab initio remain entitled to division of family property and spousal support under the Family Law Act.
Devathasan v. Devathasan, 2019 BCSC 661 Record breaking international divorce and family law Trial judgment with client obtaining 20 million plus of family property, $100,000 a month spousal support, nearly $17,000 child support for 1 child, retroactive and lump sum support of roughly $6 million and 100% indemnity for special costs in the amount of 1.5 million.
Devathasan v. Devathasan, 2017 BCSC 1010 Successfully obtained Worldwide Mareva injunction on nearly 50 million of family property located in Canada the US, Singapore and Southeast Asia. Record Canadian interim spousal support of over $83,000 a month and child support for 1 child of over $21,000 a month. Lifetime protection order to protect mother and children.
Solis v. Tibbo Lenoski, 2015 BCCA 531 The appellant father applies for a stay of proceedings on a judgment of this Court pending his application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. The appeal concerns the interpretation of Article 13(b) of the Hague Convention. The father had removed his twin boys from their habitual residence with their mother in Mexico. One of the boys, D, has autism and is undergoing intensive autism treatment in Vancouver. The father claimed that the unavailability of appropriate autism therapy in Mexico engaged the grave risk of harm exception in Article 13(b). The chambers judge ordered the boys to be returned to Mexico and this Court upheld that decision.
Held: Application allowed. With respect to the merits of the appeal, there is a sufficient likelihood that the Supreme Court of Canada might grant leave to appeal. As for irreparable harm, the findings of fact of the chambers judge suggest that D may suffer serious harm if he is returned to Mexico and any such harm would likely be irreparable given the time-sensitive nature of his treatment. Finally, the balance of inconvenience favours granting a stay.
Dominak v. Lockhart, 2014 BCCA 432 Successfully acted for a senior family lawyer who was alleged to have reached a settlement by way of letters between counsel. Appeal from an order staying family law proceedings on the basis that an enforceable settlement agreement had been reached. The appellant argued that the parties had not agreed on the issue of the division of family assets and there was no binding agreement. The chambers judge excluded the first two pages of the letter proposing the settlement as “campaign talk”, and found an “objectively reasonable” settlement in the terms set out on the third page only.
Held: appeal allowed. There was no binding agreement. The parties had not agreed on the important issue of the division of assets. The chambers judge failed to consider all of the evidence of all of the material facts and to determine the entire scope of the settlement.
Moradkhan v. Mofidi, 2013 BCCA 132 Lorne MacLean, KC successfully obtained a new trial after a previously unrepresented husband had failed to have lucrative real estate holdings to be valued by a certified business expert such that the value used initially was only half of the true value resulted in substantially increased monies for the husband.
Johnston v. Embree, 2013 BCCA 74 Biological father ordered to meet child support obligations while child is with a step-parent.
Richardson v. Richardson, 2013 BCCA 378 Successful appeal to increase retroactive award for support and to establish law in Canada on how corporate income related to real estate holdings is calculated.
Yassin v. Loubani, 2006 BCCA 509 Represented husband from Saudi Arabia who sought return of Saudi citizen children taken to Canada by wife.
British Columbia Supreme Court Cases
Kotar v Lightle, 2015 SCC Successfully dismissed a Supreme Court of Canada leave to appeal on the high net worth financial family property and support issue of a stockbroker’s book of business which sent shockwaves through the stockbroker community. A.R.J. v. Z.S.J., 2009 BCSC 1662 One of BC’s highest combined support judgments. Mills v. Eglin, 2009 BCSC 1595 Termination of spousal support.
- 1982: Juris Doctorate (J.D.), Osgoode Hall Law School, Toronto, ON
- 1979: B.Sc., University of British Columbia
- 1983: British Columbia Bar
awards and press
- The Best Divorce Lawyers in Vancouver, Best in Vancouver
- BIV BC 500
- Top 25 most influential lawyers, Canadian Lawyer
- Leading Canadian Lawyer – Doyle’s Guide
- ThreeBestRated Divorce Lawyers, Vancouver, Surrey, Richmond
- Consumer Choice Award
- 8 time winner – Top Choice Award
- Employee recommended workplace award
- A successful Anton Pillar raid that discovered millions in missing cash.
- Successfully obtained a forensic audit at the expense of the non-disclosing party to get to the bottom of their real income and assets.
- Successfully obtained a world wide freezing order called a “Mareva Injunction” in an international and interjurisdictional dispute case involving income and assets around the world.
- Obtained a Western Canadian record high interim support payment of over $83,000 per month.
- Obtained a record Trial award of support of over $116,000 per month.
- Obtained a record high lump sum support payment in excess of $5 million.
- Jailed a non disclosing spouse for contempt on an interim basis.
- Obtained a number of special costs awards against spouses who acted egregiously in their family matters.
- Obtained an interim order protecting frozen embryos from destruction.
- Helped establish principles on how void marriages are treated under the Family Law Act.
- County of Carleton Law Association, Family Law Institute – COVID 19: Parenting Challenges and Determining Income During the Pandemic
- Vancouver BC Access Court of Appeal Pro Bono volunteer
- Guest lecturer UBC Law School on spousal support and Leskun Supreme Court of Canada decision
- Featured Host of Family Matters Family Minute Presents: Is there Freedom After 55, to Freedom 55 Financial
- Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada volunteer
- Legal Advocacy Program (VLAP) volunteer
- Lorne MacLean is honoured to be a former member of the Judicial Council of BC