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Environment • Aboriginal • Energy

Richard Butler


T: 416-862-4837  E:


Richard Butler provides effective advocacy and creative solutions to help clients meet their goals. Richard is a partner in the firm’s litigation group, focusing on environmental and natural resource law. He represents parties in civil lawsuits and in regulatory proceedings, including defense of prosecutions. Richard is called to the bar of Ontario.

Environmental Litigation

Richard represents clients before the Superior court of Justice in trial, appellate and bankruptcy proceedings, the Court of Appeal, and tribunals including Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal and the Mining and Lands Commissioner.

  • Defends environmental charges, under the Provincial Offences Act, in environmental and mining matters.
  • Litigates contaminated land and other environmental disputes before all levels of Ontario’s Courts.
  • Protects clients’ interests in land and resources, including mining claims, leases, option agreements and joint ventures.
  • Advises on regulatory requirements for product liability, product recalls and risk management.
  • Involved in appeals and environmental assessment proceedings.

Environmental Law

  • Deals with regulators on spills, discharges, contaminated land and waste issues.
  • Advises on environmental law aspects of business transactions, including the purchase and sale of brownfields and contaminated land.
  • Provides compliance and permitting advice, including Mining, Agricultural and Food clients, and construction and infrastructure.

Prior Environmental Experience

Richard has multiple degrees in environmental sciences and prior experience as an environmental consultant:

  • Worked with Environment Canada and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the Great Lakes environmental indicators program.
  • Helped coordinate Toronto’s community workshops for waterfront parks and consulted with stakeholders on Toronto’s pesticide by-law.


  • Industrial and manufacturing companies, including food producers and waste generators
  • Mining, exploration and aggregates
  • Land developers, property owners, landlords, tenants
  • Construction sector
  • Insurers and financial institutions
  • Municipalities
  • Renewable energy sector
  • Directors, officers and other individuals

Representative Work

Civil Litigation

  • Damage Control for Storage Tank Spill—Acted for a large industrial manufacturer, assisting with the environmental investigation and remediation of a spill from an onsite underground storage tank. Assisted with the ongoing monitoring and remediation of groundwater, resolved civil litigation with neighbours, and responded to a regulatory Order for remediation and monitoring.
  • Insurance Coverage Opinion—Provided an opinion on the underwriter’s duty to defend and duty to indemnify. Examined facts for contaminated land and allegations of groundwater contamination onto neighbouring properties. Reviewed insurance contract to determine a cost-effective response.
  • Protecting Mining Tenure—Represented a mining and exploration client to protect its interest in mining claims in the Ring of Fire in northern Ontario. Successfully resisted a challenge to the validity of the mining claims and maintained the client’s mining tenure.
  • Contamination at Former Industrial Site—Defended a multi-national industrial client with a former industrial property. Responded to allegations of soil and groundwater contamination, resulting in the withdrawal of the claim against the client.
  • Migration of Petroleum Hydrocarbons—Represented a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit for PHC contamination that migrated to client’s property from a former gas station. Managed environmental investigations and remediation.

Defence of Environmental Regulatory Prosecutions 

  • Management of Investigation—Acted for a large-scale meat packaging company over the condition and operation of its facilities, including responding to CFIA and Ministry of the Environment inquiries.  Able to avoid prosecution through negotiation with regulatory agencies.
  • Discharge of Gas—Defending a construction company against charges under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act for the discharge of gas. Representing the client before the Ontario Court of Justice, including settlement negotiations.
  • Resolution of Alleged Sewer Discharge—Represented a condominium developer against allegations of sewer discharge. Negotiated a resolution that included minimizing the number of charges and reduced fines per charge.
  • Reduced Fine for Waste—Defending charges against a client in Western Canada operating in Ontario. Successfully negotiated minimal fine for charges relating to biomedical/pathogenic waste.

Administrative Appeals & Hearings

  • Waste Management—Represented a municipality before Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal, appealing an Order for remediation.
  • Mine Closure Plan for Tailings—Represented a mining company before the Ontario Mining and Lands Commissioner to successfully appeal a Mine Closure Order by the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. Amending forms of Order.
  • Noise and Vibration—Represented a transit authority with noise and vibration issues. Assisted with complex investigations of infrastructure to ensure ongoing compliance reporting obligations to the environmental regulator.

Environmental & Natural Resource Law

  • Brownfield Environmental Risk Assessment—Assisted with the pre-purchase due diligence of contaminated property. Reviewed Phase One and Phase Two Environmental Site Assessments to assist client with risk analysis and remediation costs.
  • Environmental Risk Management for REIT—Provided legal advice to a Real Estate Investment Trust on one of its portfolio properties. Advised the client on potential environmental liabilities, including regulatory and civil liability, associated with contaminated property. Supported the client during investigations and remediation.







  • Law Society Upper Canada—member
  • The Advocates’ Society—member
  • Canadian Bar Association—member
  • Ontario Bar Association—member
  • Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada—member
  • Defence Research Institute—member
  • Scouts Canada—volunteer and colony leader



March 01, 2018

Food Truthiness – Greenwashing in the Food Industry

“Is it local? Is it organic?” are questions increasingly asked by food consumers.  Many consumers’ food purchasing patterns ...


February 08, 2018

International Comparative Legal Guide to: Environment & Climate Change Law 2018

Congratulations to Richard Butler and Joanna Vince for their contribution in the published guide titled: International Comparative Legal ...


August 23, 2017

GNWT Seeks Feedback on Development of New “made-in-North” Mineral Resources Act

The Government of the North West Territories (“GNWT”) is formally engaging with interested stakeholders, Indigenous governments and peo...


August 21, 2017

Wind Farm Approval Revoked Due to Human Safety Concerns

On August 16, 2017 the Environmental Review Tribunal (the "Tribunal") released its decision in Wiggins v Ontario (Environment and Climate Change), ...


December 20, 2016

Federal Government on the Right Track – Improved Safety Standards for Transportation of Crude Oil by Rail

Whether by pipeline, rail or road, transporting petroleum products comes with risks to people, property and the environment.  Although pipelin...


August 30, 2016

Road Salt Leads to Environmental Hyper-Tension

Some might think that spreading road salt is a typical Canadian winter pastime, just like snowshoeing or snowball fights.  As Mr. Bousfield fo...


April 01, 2015

CIM Magazine Highlights Article on Environmental Regulatory Liability in the Mining Sector by Richard Butler and Nicole Petersen

Willms & Shier lawyers Richard Butler and Nicole Petersen's article "Environmental regulatory liability in the mining sector" is featured in th...


January 16, 2015

Richard Butler Discusses the Use of Helicopters in Northern Claim Staking Appears in CIM Magazine

Richard Butler's article, "The Helicopter Protocol: Northern Claim Staking" appeared in The Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum'...


September 18, 2014

Mining Claim Staking in Remote Areas – Ontario Mining Recorder Order Confirms Use of Helicopters

On June 24, 2014, the Ontario Provincial Mining Recorder released reasons for his decision in Noront Resources Ltd. (Disputant) v Canada Chrome Cor...


A Shield or a Sword?, Canada’s New Proposed Consumer Product Legislation, co-authored with P. Pliszka, Westlaw Journal Products Liability, Vol.21, Issue 12, Andrews Publications January 2011

A Shield or a Sword?, Canada’s New Proposed Consumer Product Legislation, co-authored with P. Pliszka, Lexpert, December 13, 2010

Has the Province of Ontario Downloaded the Duty to Consult with Canada’s First Nations, Conference Paper, International Bar Association Annual Conference October 2009

Canada Gets Serious About Consumer-Product Safety, co-authored with Peter Pliszka, The National Law Journal May 25, 2009

The Proposed Canada Consumer Product Safety Act: Beware the “CPSC of the North”, International Association of Defense Counsel, Product Liability Committee Newsletter October 2008

Assisted with revisions to: J. Falconer and P. Pliszka, Annotated Coroners Act, 2nd ed. (Toronto: Butterworths)  2007/2008

Mandatory Orders - When Protecting Justiciable Rights Requires Positive Action, co-authored with J. Kaufman, presented at the Ontario Bar Association - Remedies Fast Forward October 2007



March 17, 2015

Listed Magazine Quotes Richard Butler on Airborne Claim-Staking by KWG Resources Inc.

Listed Magazine published the article, "Deets from above" by Brian Banks on February 27, 2015, examining the practice by exploration companies of d...


March 17, 2015

Ontario Mineral Exploration Review Features Article on Mining-Claim Staking in Remote Areas by Richard Butler

The Spring 2015 issue of the Ontario Mineral Exploration Review features an article by Willms & Shier associate lawyer Richard Butler ...


April 03, 2014

Conference: All-Energy Canada Exhibition & Conference

Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers LLP will be an exhibitor at the All-Energy Canada Exhibition & Conference, April 9-10, 2014 at the Exh...


February 26, 2014

Conference: CANECT 2014 - Waste Management, Air Emissions and Water & Wastewater Programs

Willms & Shier partners and associates are Chairs and speakers at CANECT’s 22nd Annual Conference on Environmental Compliance Essentials....


November 28, 2013

Conference: Toronto Construction Association, February 12, 2014

Join Marc McAree, Charles Birchall, Matt Gardner and Richard Butler at this half-day seminar as they discuss today's most pressing enviro...


November 01, 2013

Conference: Willms & Shier Presenting at Envirogate 2013 November 26-27

Envirogate's 20th Annual Conference on Environmental Compliance Essentials will be well-represented by Willms & Shier November 26-27, 2013 ...