Christa Nicholson

Christa Nicholson

Contact Information

Principal Practice Areas

  • Insolvency and Restructuring
  • Corporate, Commercial and Energy Litigation
  • Real Property & Real Estate Litigation
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Injunctions
  • Product Liability
  • Tort Litigation
  • Wills and Estates

Benchmark Canada

Education, Career and Practice

Christa is a native Calgarian. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree (B.A. with distinction) from the University of Calgary and, in 1991, her law degree (J.D.) from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. She returned to Calgary to begin her legal career, articling and then becoming an associate and partner at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP where she worked for over 17 years. Thereafter, she was a partner at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP for three years. She joined the JSS Barristers partnership on October 1, 2013. She is in the process of completing her Masters of Law degree (LL.M.) in dispute resolution from Pepperdine University, California.

Christa is a problem solver and her 20+ year long legal practice focuses on helping corporations and individuals effectively and efficiently manage and resolve insolvency situations and other disputes through litigation and alternative dispute resolution, including negotiation, mediation and arbitration ("ADR").

Christa's significant experience in the insolvency and restructuring area includes work on bankruptcies including Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act ("BIA") proposals, Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act ("CCAA") restructurings, receiverships, loan recoveries, security enforcement, as well as in commercial and residential mortgage foreclosures. She has acted on many noteworthy insolvency matters representing debtors, secured and unsecured creditors from various industries (including energy and energy services, manufacturing, recreation, transportation, and agriculture), as well as officers of the court, including court-appointed receivers and trustees.

Christa has worked on complex commercial, energy, product liability, estates, and creditors' rights disputes. She has acted on joint venture and operatorship disputes and various breach of contract and tortious disputes relating to oil and gas transactions, including in the renewable energy and derivatives fields, and on international and domestic arbitrations as well as on judicial and private mediations involving energy and other companies. She is a mediator on the roster of the Alberta Provincial Court and has appeared before all levels of the Alberta Courts.

Through her LL.M. program in the U.S., Christa is keenly aware of the focus of organizations on value when it comes to purchasing legal services including their interest in legal project management and their drive toward systematically using ADR and other processes to more cost-efficiently manage disputes in a way that aligns with corporate objectives.

Christa has written and/or presented extensively in the fields of insolvency and restructuring law and ADR, including international and domestic arbitration, mediation, and managing legal costs through the systematic use of ADR in the design and use of dispute management systems.

Some representative experience is described below.

Notable Insolvency and Restructuring Matters

  • CCAA Creditors and Agents - acting for agents, significant secured and unsecured creditors, contractors, suppliers and debtors in CCAA proceedings including:
    • Air Canada
    • Algoma Steel
    • Caribou Resources
    • Challenger Energy and Canadian Superior
    • Hurricane Hydrocarbons
    • Oilexco
    • SemCanada Group
    • Skiing Louise
    • Skyreach
    • Trident Exploration
  • Receiverships - acting for bidders/purchasers in receiverships as well as Receivers in court-appointed and private receiverships, including:
    • the RNG Group
    • Brinkerhoff Drilling
    • Perera
    • Kyoto Fuels Corporation
    • 3 Eau Claire Developments
  • Other Creditors - acting for creditors in receivership and bankruptcy proceedings including:
    • Merit Energy
    • CanEnerco
    • M3 Energy
    • Launch Resources
    • Atcon Construction
    • Cash Store (affiliate)
  • Real Estate - acting for unsecured creditors, lenders and mortgage insurers, including banks and financial institutions, in the recovery of funds including large loans secured against all assets of companies and/or commercial office, residential, condominium, hotels, and other real property.


  • Creditor's Rights - acting for secured and unsecured creditors and lenders, including banks and financial institutions, in the recovery of funds and relating to real property mortgages
  • Energy
    • counsel for the Alberta Energy Regulator ("AER") in several unique, highly contested, urgent separate matters at the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench and the Alberta Court of Appeal respecting Lexin Resources Ltd. which involved: (1) the first instance of the AER ever petitioning an oil and gas operator into receivership; (2) a unique, successful application to prohibit Lexin from continuing unauthorized and unsafe activities pursuant to s. 19 of the Responsible Energy Development Act ("REDA"); and (3) opposing applications by Lexin for Companies Creditors' Arrangement Act insolvency protection, for a mandamus order requiring the AER to remediate Lexin's oil and gas properties, and challenging the constitutionality of REDA provisions and the right of Lexin to advance a counterclaim against the AER for $200 million. The issues are at the confluence of insolvency and regulatory law, including concerning the AER's ability to implement its public protection mandate when dealing with an insolvent operator
    • counsel for the Orphan Well Association in insolvency matters relating to the oil and gas industry, including in Re LGX Oil & Gas Inc. and at the Alberta Court of Appeal in the insolvency of Regent Resources Ltd.
    • successfully obtaining a unique urgent receivership order under the AIPN in respect of substantial offshore joint venture assets
    • acting on energy disputes involving joint venture and operatorship issues and various breach of contract and tortious disputes relating to energy transactions including in the renewable energy sector
    • defense of a complex derivatives-related claim exceeding $100 million
    • advising and litigating with respect to set-off issues
  • Domestic ADR including Dispute Management Systems Design
    • counsel on mediated cases, Judicial Dispute Resolution matters, and mediator on the Alberta Provincial Court roster
    • provision of drafting advice with respect to stepped dispute resolution clauses and economical litigation agreements
    • deep knowledge of current corporate trends in dispute management and systematic use of ADR processes (including the use ADR suitability screens and early case assessment) to more cost-efficiently manage disputes and how to design such systems
  • International
    • co-counsel in UNCITRAL international arbitration proceedings in Stockholm, Sweden and advancing proceedings in Alberta to have recognized and enforced the resulting arbitration award
    • advising with respect to commencement of international arbitration in the London Court of International Arbitration and ancillary local interim measures proceedings in the Alberta courts
    • advising on procedural issues (e.g. letters rogatory) respecting international litigation
    • acting as counsel in local and other litigation involving international arbitration and the provision of advice to clients regarding the New York Convention, the Model Law and the drafting of arbitration and other dispute resolution clauses
    • LL.M. participant in the London/Geneva and Hong Kong/Beijing study tours gaining valuable international litigation, arbitration and mediation expertise and cultural diversity awareness
  • Estates - acting for personal representatives, executors, trustees and beneficiaries in wills, dependent adult, and trust disputes to efficiently devise a strategy and path to solution through litigation or ADR
  • Products - acting for manufacturers in various industries including in the fields of pharmaceutical products, medical devices and automotives in the defense of numerous and multi-million dollar lawsuits
  • General Commercial Litigation - including injunctions acting on shareholder and business and director liability disputes involving real estate, division of assets, breach of trust, conversion, breach of contract, breach of franchise agreements and negligent construction


  • Family - Christa and her family, including her 17 year old daughter who was born in China, have had the privilege of travelling extensively in Asia, Europe, and North America. In a former life, Christa played varsity volleyball at university and participated internationally in triathlon. Christa currently enjoys skiing (especially in Austria and Fernie, B.C.), cycling, and, most recently (and with limited proficiency), golfing with family and friends.
  • Community - Calgary Legal Guidance (15 years: case worker/Board Member); HomeFront (2 years: Board Member); Lycee Louis Pasteur (2 years: child's school class representative); Fernie Alpine Ski Team (8 years: parent, volunteer); cancer fundraising (2 years: raised over $20,000).
Following are some of Christa's presentations and publications; please contact Christa Nicholson at nicholsonc [at] jssbarristers [dot] ca if you would like more information:
  • "The Redwater Case: The Concerns of the SCC", International Energy Creditor Association (IECA), 26th Annual IECA Canadian Conference, June 10 13, 2018 (presenter)
  • "Redwater Redux" Panel, Annual Review of Insolvency Law Conference, Vancouver, February 8 and 9, 2018 (commentator)
  • "Insolvency Issues: The Redwater Case and Beyond", 25th Annual IECA Canadian Conference, June 11 14, 2017 (presenter)
  • "Bankruptcy and Restructuring 2016", Virtual Roundtable, Corporate Live Wire (with representation from: Baker McKenzie; Anderson Mori & Tomotsun; Proskauer Rose LLP; Roschier, Attorney Ltd.; Miller Thomson LLP; and Jones Day), December 2016 (presenter)
  • "Lower for Longer? Insolvency Issues: what you need to know now", Wake Up with JSS Barristers - Speaker Series, February 9, 2016 (presenter)
  • "The Myth of Splitting The Baby", The Lawyers Weekly, Vol. 35, No. 11, July 17, 2015
  • "King Solomon and 'Splitting the Baby': Myth or Reality in Litigation and Arbitration?", ADR Institute of Canada Inc., Montreal, Quebec, October 23, 24, 2014 (presenter)
  • "Dispute Management Systems - How They Can Add Value", ADR Institute of Canada Inc., ADR Perspectives, Volume 1, No. 1 - March 2014 (author)
  • "Dispute Management - How More Systematic Use of Alternative Dispute Resolution Process Can Add Value", Canadian Corporate Counsel Association - Corporate Counsel Calgary Section, November 28, 2013 (presenter)
  • "Designing Conflict Resolution Systems: Cutting Litigation Legal Spend", December, 2012 (presenter)
  • "Managing Litigation in Corporations and Organizations", November 2012 (LL.M. academic paper) (author)
  • "International Commercial Arbitration: A Case Study", November, 2011 (LL.M. academic paper) (author)
  • "Enforcing on International Credit Support-What You Need To Know", 19th Annual Canadian Conference of International Energy Credit Association, June 7, 2011 (presenter)
  • "Arbitration Update", ADR Institute of Alberta, April 2, 2011 (co-presenter)
  • "Roundtable Discussion: Alberta Rules of Court Amendments and Insolvency Practice", Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, November 19, 2010 (co-presenter)
  • "Effectively Negotiating with Commercial Litigators About Mediation", working paper, November 10, 2010 (LL.M. academic paper) (author)
  • Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLED), Oral Advocacy Facilitator/Instructor, October 6, 2010
  • "Insolvency Issues in the Oil and Gas Patch - What You Need to Know", Insight 8th Edition Energy Contracts, presenter, September, 2010 (presenter)
  • "Getting the Right ADR Clauses into Your Business Agreements", ADR Institute of Canada, September 23, 2010 (co-presenter)
  • "Insolvency Primer", Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, July 7, 2010 (presenter)
  • "On Educating Practicing Lawyers About Apology Law", working paper, May, 2010 (LL.M. academic paper) (author)
  • "Insolvency Changes North of the Border", Osler Franchise Review, May, 2010
  • "Meeting the Special Challenges of Oil Patch Insolvencies", The Canadian Institute's Western Canadian Advanced Insolvency Law and Practice Conference, Vancouver, September 17, 2009 (co-presenter with Deloitte & Touche Inc.)
  • "Hot Topics In Insolvency Law", EnCana Corporation, June 18, 2009 (co-presenter)
  • "The Expanding Reach of the CCAA", International Energy Credit Association, June 16, 2009 (co-presenter); and Professional Credit and Finance Association of Calgary, June, 16, 2009 (co-presenter)
  • ADR One Week Intensive Law School Course, University of Calgary, Faculty of Law, Calgary, Alberta, January, 2009 (co-instructor)
  • "Avoiding and Minimizing Canadian Construction Disputes", Roundtable, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, Calgary, Alberta, September 11, 2008 (co-presenter)
  • "Bankruptcy and Insolvency Primer for the Energy Sector", Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP client seminar, Calgary, Alberta, April 23, 2008 (co-presenter)
  • "Canada Chapter, The International Comparative Legal Guide to: International Arbitration 2007", 2007 edition of The International Comparative Legal Guide to International Arbitration, London: Global Legal Group Ltd. (co-author)
  • "Enforceability of Foreign Guarantees: will your foreign guarantee be worth merely the paper it is written on?", EnCana Corporation, December 6, 2006 (co-presenter)
  • "International Enforceability of Judicial and Arbitral Decisions", Shell Canada Limited, October 11, 2006 (co-presenter)
  • "What Commercial Lawyers Need To Know About International Commercial Arbitration Clauses", Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP national videoconference May 16, 2006 (co-presenter)
  • "Introduction to Enforcement of Foreign Judgments and Arbitral Awards", Canadian Bar Association, International Business Section, April 20, 2006 (presenter)
  • "Corporate Governance, Liquidation Sales and More: The Alberta CCAA Restructuring of Skyreach Equipment Ltd.", The Annual Review of Insolvency Law 2005, Janis P. Serra (ed), 2006, Toronto: Thomson Canada Limited (author)
  • "Fundamentals of Canadian Bankruptcy and Insolvency Law", Advanced Insolvency Law & Practice, The Canadian Institute, Calgary, Alberta, September 28, 2005 (co-presenter)
  • "Introduction to Enforcement of Foreign Judgments and Arbitral Awards", TransCanada Pipelines Limited, June 28, 2005 (co-presenter)
  • "Agricultural Update Seminar for CIBC Retail Risk Management Group", Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP and PriceWaterhouse Coopers Inc., Calgary (May 3, 2004); Ontario (May 4-6, 2004) (co-presenter)
  • Member of the Board of Directors of the International Women's Insolvency & Restructuring Confederation ("IWIRC"), Western Canada network (2016 to present)
  • Member and Organizer of the Saint Thomas More Lawyers' Guild of Calgary which organizes an interfaith event for the legal profession and anyone associated with the administration of justice
  • Law Society of Alberta
  • Canadian Bar Association: Insolvency, Litigation, ADR, Wills and Estates, and Foreclosure subsections
  • Turnaround Management Association, Northwest Chapter
  • Canadian Insolvency Foundation
  • American Bankruptcy Institute
  • INSOL International
  • International Energy Credit Association
  • International Women's Insolvency & Restructuring Confederation
  • ADR Institute of Alberta
  • ADR Institute of Canada
  • IR Global