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

CALGARY — 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.

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.

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. 

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.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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