Tony Merchant is a 47-year veteran of the Canadian legal scene and has gained a renowned reputation for being one of Canada’s most successful class action lawyers, a designation that’s earned him the title “Class Action King”. Merchant heads the Merchant Law Group, a nationwide law firm with 12 offices across Canada and one in New York City. He also comes from a long line of diligent litigators, and is a fifth generation lawyer, whose three sons are the sixth generation. Admitted to the Saskatchewan Bar in 1968, Merchant is particularly well known for his success for Aboriginal peoples, including residential school survivors.
Merchant is not only familiar with the legal realm, the onetime freelance journalist hosted a popular radio show, worked on CBC television and was a Lieutenant in the Navy Reserves. Merchant also sat on the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly as a Liberal representative from 1975 to 1978.
The 1984 trial of Colin Thatcher launched Merchant into the national headlines and he quickly became a go-to source for legal analysis, and is well known for his quick wit and ability to articulate succinctly.
Over 1,300 Merchant cases are featured in case law journals. Some of the most noteworthy class actions Merchant has been involved with include: The 2008 suit against Maple Leaf food following the Listeria outbreak. Since 2011, Merchant has represented prairie Métis people in the ‘60’s Scoop Children’ case, where Métis children were forcibly taken from their homes and put up for adoption. An $18 billion dollar suit in 2012, against Canada’s major telecom providers over system access fees. Currently, Merchant is working on a class action suit against Takata for faulty air bag manufacturing, among other suits.
Merchant is not intimidated or afraid to confront the government or take up cases other lawyers might shy away from. Merchant’s familiarity with the media makes him a frequent legal expert in the media world. He was featured in a 2001 60 Minutes segment on Residential Schools and Merchant can often be found commenting on current litigations and legal matters.
Throughout his career, Merchant has received many awards and recognitions, some of the most prominent being: The 2002 Queen’s Golden Jubilee decoration, 2005 Saskatchewan Centennial Medal, 2006 Decoration of Honour from the Nation of Austria, and 2012’s Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.