A company that previously had agreements for fast ferry service from Nanaimo to Vancouver has initiated a lawsuit against the Nanaimo Port Authority and another fast ferry proponent.
Island Ferry Services filed a notice of civil claim Aug. 16 in the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver against the Port of Nanaimo and Conqora Partners Inc.
The port and Snuneymuxw First Nation announced a long-term lease deal with Conqora last September for high-speed ferry service from Nanaimo Assembly Wharf to downtown Vancouver.
The plaintiffs – Island Ferry Services Ltd., Island Ferry Management Ltd. and Island Maritime Holdings Ltd. – have been pursuing fast-ferry service from the Harbour City to the mainland for 15 years, the claim states, and Island Ferries has spent $18 million in the effort, “including the creation of confidential and proprietary information necessary for the operation of the business, such as as business plans, financial models, ridership projections, operational plans, vessel certification, environmental reports and agreements with third parties.” The information was shared with the defendants, the claim noted.
The plaintiffs say they raised $11.6 million from investors, reached a “recognition, co-operation and benefits agreement” with Snuneymuxw in August 2020, “executed shipbuilding contracts with Damen Shipyards” for ferries, and received certification from Transport Canada to operate the ferries.
The notice claims that in the summer of 2019, Island Ferry Services was introduced to Forum Equity Partners as a potential investor and a mutal non-disclosure agreement was signed. In September 2019, Island Ferry Services was introduced to Rupesh Amin, who was identified as a managing partner of Forum, but was later disclosed to have started Conqora. The foot ferry business plan and other information was therefore passed on to Amin and Conqora without Island Ferry Services’ consent, states the claim.
“Several months later, Mr. Amin disclosed to Island Ferries that Conqora was obligated to pay Forum a fee in exchange for receiving Island Ferries’ confidential information, in breach of the Forum NDA,” the claim states.
Island Ferries claims that in November 2020, the port informed Conqora that it would never enter into a deal with Island Ferry Services, even though it had “executed a term sheet for such [a] lease two months prior and having previously selected ISFL’s proposal during a public procurement process,” according to court documents.
“Conqora then purported to rely on the NPA’s statements to repudiate its agreements with Island Ferries and propose fundamentally altered terms for investing in Island Ferries, terms that were unacceptable to Island Ferries,” the plaintiffs claim. “Conqora then misappropriated Island Ferries’ confidential and proprietary information to pursue the business on its own.”
The plaintiffs claim non-disclosure agreements were breached. They are seeking general, punitive and aggravated damages and injunctions prohibiting Conqora and the port from using any information or intellectual property from Island Ferries.
None of the claims have been proven in court. The defendants have 21 days to respond to the notice, according to the court documents.
The port authority was contacted for comment.