The Supreme Court of Canada’s recent decision in Clements v. Clements’ (1) can be described, with a pinch of poetic licence, as part requiem, part resurrection.

The requiem is for material contribution, a problematic if well-intentioned doctrine brought into Canadian tort law almost two decades ago in an attempt to mitigate the harshness of a strictly applied but for causation test. The resurrection is that of Snell v. Farrell(2) that old chestnut, no more! – with its “common sense”, “robust and pragmatic” view of how the but for test should be applied.

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