Derek Nicholson

Senior Counsel


Derek Nicholson has been one of Ottawa’s leading Civil Trial Lawyers since 1980. In his early years of practice, he focused on Defense Insurance work representing several major insurance companies, including Chubb Insurance and Royal Insurance. He has also represented many high-profile clients, including the Attorney General of Canada in a trial against Boeing USA, CJOH -TV and Blue Line Taxi.

In 2012 Derek secured the largest settlement in Canadian History. He won over $15 million for clients who were catastrophically injured in a motor vehicle accident. The settlement also produced one of the most significant structured settlements in Canadian History of $11 million.

In the last forty years, he has focused on Personal Injury work, especially for Catastrophic Injury victims (including those affected by traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and multiple injuries resulting in a 55% whole body impairment as defined under the Insurance legislation.)

With Derek as a key member of Gluckstein Lawyers and lead lawyer of our new Ottawa location, Nicholson Gluckstein Lawyers continues to take on the most complex personal injury claims throughout Ontario. His approach and focus are on helping injured victims recover. He has guided hundreds of Plaintiffs through recovery by assisting in maximizing rehabilitation benefits and supporting victims to restructure their lives.

Although he now exclusively represents Plaintiffs against Insurance companies, it is of great value that he represented insurance companies in the early years to obtain insight to assist Plaintiffs today.

Derek Nicholson co-chaired a program on  changes to the Statutory Accident Benefits for Ottawa’s Bar Association (the Carleton County Law Association). He has done demonstrations of Cross-Examinations of Bio-Mechanical Engineering experts before 400 lawyers at the OTLA Fall 2015 Conference.

Derek was on the Executive of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association as Treasurer and Regional Organization Coordinator. Derek was initially elected a Director of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association. He was the Chair of the OTLA cup committee, which organizes an annual Moot Court in personal injury for six of the law schools in Ontario. Derek is also a member of the American Association for Justice.

In 2014 Derek was involved in a Trial in Soulliere v Robitaille on behalf of a young man Christopher Soulliere who was very severely brain-injured.  The case involved a road maintenance and design accident.  Christopher’s mother was killed at the scene and there was no evidence from her or Christopher as to what had caused the accident.  The only other surviving witness was the oncoming driver who was hostile as he had severe injuries as well. After weeks of Trial the case settled for $10 Million.  Complex engineering evidence was called from various engineering specialists relating to road design, maintenance, the minimum maintenance standard, future care needs for catastrophically injured victims, actuary and economics.  After the settlement when approving the contingency fees and settlement Madam Justice Toscano Roccamo said:

[31]  “The risk assumed by counsel was on the high end given the liability and litigation risks.  A poor result at trial would have limited payment of fees to a percentage of the Plaintiffs’ pro rata share of the Robitaille policy limits paid into Court and accident benefits, and would undoubtedly have resulted in payment of disbursements and a fraction of fees.

[32]  . . . have little doubt that, absent counsel’s willingness to accept the risks, the social objective of providing access to justice of injured children and parties under disability of limited financial means would not have been met”.

With respect to consideration of the factors in Raphael Her Honour said:

[28]  “In this case, there is little doubt that consideration of the other Raphael factors favours payment of the fees sought by counsel.  First, proof of liability in the tort action was complicated by reason of the death of Isabelle Robitaille who drove the vehicle in which Christopher was a passenger, as well as Christopher’s cognitive impairments arising from his brain injury.  The outcome was dependent on numerous competing expert opinions, due to Christopher’s retrograde amnesia as to events leading up to the accident, and the lack of any evidence from the deceased, coupled with the claims against the named Municipality for design and disrepair of the highway and the failure to utilize certain traffic signs to modify driver behaviour approaching the scene of the accident.  The legal complexity of the case was significant.”

Awards & Recognition.

  • Certified Specialist in Civil Litigation
  • An Award from McKellar Structured Settlements for the largest structured settlement amount in Canada

Professional Involvement.

  • Derek Nicholson was appointed Chair of the Ottawa Mission, December, 2021
  • Derek Nicholson was appointed Treasurer of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association(OTLA). He was also appointed to head up fundraising and regionalization for OTLA, April 2017
  • March 2017:  On March 30th, 2017 Derek Nicholson was re-elected as a Member of the Board of Directors of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association for a third three-year term, March 2017
  • OTLA 2015 Fall Conference Cross-examination demonstration of a biomechanical engineer in front of the 400 lawyer conference, November 2015
  • Recent Arbitration Decision re CAT determination under the 55% WPI and Marked Impairment Categories – Stewart vs State Farm Insurance, June 2014
  • Derek Nicholson won over $9 million in this court decision for clients that were catastrophically injured in a motor vehicle accident. Soulliere v. Robitaille, February 2014
  • The Board of Directors of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association elected Derek Nicholson as a State Delegate for the American Association of Justice formerly the American Trial Lawyers Association, May 2013
  • Bar admission course – 6 years as a seminar leader Civil Procedure
  • Bar admission course – 1 year the Law of Insurance
  • Bar admission course – 1 year Evidence
  • Bar admission course – Ethics and the Profession of Law
  • Lecturer University of Ottawa 17 years “The Law of Insurance:”, 1982 to 1999
  • Lecturer University of Ottawa 3 years “Advocacy”, 2000 – 2004
  • Chair and Organizer of Expert Witness Examination in Chief and Cross Examination with John Sopinka and David Scott
  • Surveillance following Murray v Woodstock, a review of the law relating to disclosure of Surveillance in Ontario, 1988 Civil Litigation Update, Monte Ste Marie Quebec for the CCLA
  • Complex Catastrophic Impairment under Ontario Statutory Accident Benefits Legislation: the Desbien Decision – 2006 presented at the Montebello Conference for the CCLA
  • Recent Supreme Court of Canada Developments with respect to Foreseeability and Causation – 2007 presented at the OTLA Spring Conference Prince Hotel Toronto
  • Damages relating to Children – An Overview of Various Issues Relating to Maximizing the Recovery of Damages for Injured or Diseased children – 2009 OTLA Fall Conference paper presentation
  • Need to Obtain Order for Ongoing Benefits – Tactical Strategy When On Going Accident Benefits Have Been Terminated – 2010 Presented to the CCLA at the Officers’ Mess Ottawa
  • Preparing a Discovery to Get Read-Ins for Trial – 2015 Young Lawyers Division, Ontario Trial Lawyer’s Association Toronto, OCBA offices
  • OTLA Fall Conference 2015: Demonstration of the Cross Examination of a Bio Mechanical Engineer Expert before 350 – 400 attendees at the Metropolitan Conference Center, Toronto
  • Derek Nicholson was appointed by the Directors of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association to the Rules Committee, the Intervention Committee and OTLA Cup/Law School Outreach Committee, August 2010
  • Derek Nicholson was appointed to the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association’s Interventions Committee, July 2010

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