Alberta farmers file what might be first class-action lawsuit over unpaid oil leases

Posted November 10, 2020 5:14 pm

An Alberta farm family has filed what could be the first class-action lawsuit against an energy company for not making its lease payments.

In a statement of claim filed in Calgary, Reinhold and Thyla Kautz of Strathmore say Calgary-based AlphaBow Energy Ltd. has reneged on a lease deal that compensates them for the use of their land.

In the claim, which hasn’t been tested in court, the couple says AlphaBow said in May it wouldn’t be paying its annual lease fee due that month.

The claim alleges no payment has been received since then.

READ MORE: Alberta landowners urge farmers to cut power to wells with unpaid debts 

Lawyer Matthew Farrell says the amount owed to the Kautz family is small, but he points out the company has had dealings with hundreds of other landowners who may be in the same boat.

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It’s the latest flashpoint for an industry struggling with low oil prices.

Earlier this year, many rural municipalities in the province learned that energy companies wouldn’t be paying their municipal taxes.

READ MORE: Alberta cuts deal on municipal oilpatch levies; not on unpaid property taxes 

Lawyer Keith Wilson, who has worked on similar disputes between industry and landowners, says this is the first such civil class action he’s aware of.

The lawsuit has yet to be certified as a class-action lawsuit.

No statement of defence has been filed and an AlphaBow spokesperson was not immediately available to comment.

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