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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 of Ontario—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


Speaking Engagements

May 13, 2020

CANECT 2020 - Water & Wastewater Regulation and Compliance

April 20, 2020 to April 21, 2020

ICSC Canadian Shopping Centre Law Conference 2020: Roundtable Discussions

January 23, 2020

SMART Remediation Seminar Series 2020 - Toronto Conference

November 26, 2019

Bureau Veritas Laboratories - National Science Summit

October 23, 2019

A&WMA OVC Workshop - Cannabis in Canada, Clearing the Air (and Waste)

October 10, 2019

Waste & Recycling Expo - The Highs and the Lows of the Cannabis Industry

September 13, 2019

Grow Up Conference - Waiting to Exhale: Cannabis in Canada - The Potential Environmental Impacts and the Regulatory Landscape

June 25, 2019

A&WMA's 112th Annual Conference & Exhibition

April 30, 2019

CIM Convention 2019

May 08, 2019

CANECT 2019 - Managing Industrial Air Emissions: Air, GHGs, Odour and Noise

March 27, 2019 to March 28, 2019

ICSC Canadian Shopping Centre Law Conference 2019: Roundtable Discussions

February 05, 2019

Ontario Bar Association Institute - Consultation, Consent & Shared Decision-Making

March 26, 2019

Ontario Bar Association - Beyond the Construction Act: Other Legal Updates for Construction Lawyers

October 01, 2018

OBA Civil Litigation Law Program - Succeeding in Motions and Applications

April 30, 2018 to May 01, 2018

ICSC Canadian Shopping Centre Law Conference 2018: Roundtable Discussions

May 07, 2018

The Law Society of Ontario: The Six-Minute Municipal Lawyer 2018

May 10, 2018

CANECT 2018 - Managing Water & Wastewater Issues

February 06, 2018

OBA Institute - Hot Topics for Infrastructure and Development Projects: Avoiding Environmental Pitfalls and Mitigating Risks

October 04, 2017

The Law Society of Upper Canada: The Six-Minute Environmental Lawyer 2017

November 02, 2017 to November 04, 2017

2nd Annual National Conference on Food Law and Policy in Canada

May 03, 2017

CANECT 2017 - Water and Wastewater: Regulation and Compliance

April 26, 2016 to April 27, 2016

CANECT 2016 - Water and Wastewater: Regulation and Compliance

April 29, 2015

CANECT 2015 - Water and Wastewater: Regulation and Compliance

November 26, 2014

Envirogate 2014: Water & Wastewater: Compliance and Due Diligence

April 30, 2014

CANECT 2014: Water and Wastewater: Compliance and Due Diligence

February 12, 2014

Toronto Construction Association: Environmental Law - Pitfalls, Perils & Risk Management

November 26, 2013

Water and Wastewater: Compliance and Due Diligence, Envirogate



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


  • Called to the Ontario Bar (2006)
  • LL.B., Osgoode Hall Law School, York University (2005)
  • M.Sc., Environmental Geography, Queen’s University (2001)
  • B.Sc. (Hons.), Environmental Science, Queen’s University (1998)



"Willms & Shier is a bluechip environmental law firm."

Judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice