Chris Tollefson


Chris Tollefson

Chris Tollefson

Tel: 250-721-8170
Fax: 250-721-8146
Faculty of Law
University of Victoria
PO Box 1700, STN CSC
Victoria, BC  V8W 2Y2

Prior to joining the UVic Law faculty in 1991, I took degrees at Queen’s, UVic and Osgoode Hall, and clerked at the BC Court of Appeal for Mr. Justice Douglas Lambert.

I also carried on litigation practice in Vancouver that focussed on criminal defence, human rights and employment law.   My experiences clerking and in litigation practice had a profound effect on my approach to law and legal practice.  I saw how important it was in criminal, civil and regulatory settings that clients receive competent, creative and committed representation.

When I returned to teach at UVic Law in 1991, Canadian environmental law was in its infancy.  I decided then to devote myself to seeing how far the goal of access to justice could be promoted in the environmental law area.  In the early 1990s I joined the original board of Sierra Legal Defence Fund (now Ecojustice) and, for a decade, helped to grow that organization into Canada’s leading public interest environmental law firm, including a three-year stint as national President.

I also founded Canada’s first public interest environmental law clinical program. The UVic Environmental Law Centre Society (ELC) has operated this clinic since 1994.  As Executive Director of the ELC since those early days, its growth and development has been gratifying.

Of late, thanks to support of the Tula Foundation, I have been able to return to my first love in law, litigation, as counsel on ELC litigation files including hearings into the Northern Gateway pipeline.

Much of my scholarship has also focussed on access to justice issues including work on strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) and costs in public interest litigation.  My work on these and other issues has led to law reforms here in British Columbia.  I have also appeared representing Ecojustice and the ELC as intervenors on access to justice issues in the Supreme Court of Canada.

I co-author an environmental law textbook with my colleague Prof. Meinhard Doelle (Schulich Law).  Environmental Law: Cases and Materials (Thomson-Carswell) was first published in 2008.  A second edition is due out in September 2013.  I have also published on a range of environmental law topics including environmental governance, contaminated sites, forestry, and Aboriginal issues. 

In 2010, I was appointed as the inaugural Hakai Chair in Environmental Law and Sustainability.

  • BA – Queen's (1982)
  • LLB – UVic  (1985)
  • LLM – Osgoode Hall (1993)
  • "New Governance Arrangements at the Intersection of Climate Change and Forest Policy" (2012) 90 Public Administration 37-55 (with M. Doelle et. al.)
  • "Symposium Overview: Conceptualizing New Governance Arrangements" (2012) 90 Public Administration 3-18 (lead author and symposium editor: with T. Zito and F. Gale)
  • "Costs in Public Interest Litigation Revisited" (2012) 39 The Advocate's Quarterly 197-221
  • "Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation: The British Columbia Experience" (2010) Review of European Community & International Environmental Law, with Michaelin Scott
  • "Tears from an Onion: Layering, Exhaustion and Transformation in B.C. Land Use Planning Policy" (2009) 28 Policy and Society 111-124, with Tim Thielmann
  • "Costs in Public Interest Litigation: Recent Developments and Future Directions" (2009) 35 Advocates Quarterly 181-201
  • "From Government to Governance in Forest Planning? Lessons from the Case of the British Columbia Great Bear Rainforest Initiative" (2009) 11 Forest Policy and Economics 383-391, with Howlett and Rayner
  • "Litigating the Precautionary Principle in Domestic Courts" (2008) 19 Journal of Environmental Law and Practice 33-58, with Jamie Thornback
  • "Charting a Course: Shellfish Aquaculture and Indigenous Rights in New Zealand and British Columbia" (2006) 150 B.C. Studies 3-41, with R.M. Scott
  • "Costs and the Public Interest Litigant: Okanagan Indian Band and Beyond" (2006) 19 Canadian Journal of Administrative Law and Practice 39-61
  • "The Implications of Okanagan Indian Band for Public Interest Litigants: A Strategic Discussion Paper" (presented at the AGM of the Court Challenges Program of Canada: Winnipeg, November 19, 2005)
  • "Charting a Course: Assessing Regulatory Regimes for Shellfish Aquaculture in New Zealand and British Columbia", with R.M. Scott (presented to the AGM of the Aquaculture Association of Canada, July 2005)
  • "Towards a Public Interest Costs Jurisprudence" (2004) 83 Canadian Bar Review (50 pages) lead author with D. Gilliland and J. DeMarco
  • "NAFTA's Chapter Eleven: the Case for Reform" Choices (Institute for Research in Public Policy: Ottawa, March 2003)
  • "Games without Frontiers: Investor Claims and Citizen Submissions under the NAFTA Regime" (2002) 27 Yale Journal of International Law 141-191
  • "Metalclad Corporation v. The United Mexican States Revisited: Judicial Oversight of the Investor-State Claim Process under NAFTA" (2002) 11 Minnesota Journal of Global Trade 182-223
  • "Advancing An Agenda? A Reflection on Recent Developments in Canadian Public Interest Environmental Litigation" (2002) 51 UNBLJ 175-196
  • "A Fluid Situation: Evolving Drinking Water Law and Policy in British Columbia" (2001) 59 The Advocate 527-542, with Peter MacPherson
  • "Aboriginal Rights and Cumulative Environmental Effects" (1998) 18 Environmental Impact Review 371-390, with Karen Wipond
  • "Contaminated Sites Liability in British Columbia" (1997) Environmental Liability, with Diana Belevsky
  • "Bill 26 Arrives" (1997) The Advocate, with Diana Belevsky