Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini speaks during a news conference in Vancouver Tuesday, April 15, 2008.. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
OTTAWA - The Supreme Court of Canada has thrown the final punch in the fight over ownership of the Vancouver Canucks and Francesco Aquilini will remain the owner of the NHL team.
Canada's highest court on Thursday sided with Aquilini, dismissing an appeal application from a pair of Vancouver businessmen.
Tom Gaglardi and Ryan Beedie wanted the Supreme Court to overturn two B.C. court rulings that rejected claims they should have been included in Aquilini's purchase of the NHL team.
Both Aquilini and the lawyer representing Gaglardi and Beedie declined comment on the court's ruling.
B.C.'s supreme and appeal courts found Gaglardi and Beedie were no longer Aquilini's partners when he made a successful bid to buy half of the hockey franchise in 2004.
The battle over the Canucks stretches back more than six years when the three men agreed to work together to purchase an interest in the hockey team.
In November 2004, Aquilini purchased half the franchise for $250 million from American telecom billionaire John McCaw, only days after negotiations for the team fell through with Gaglardi and Beedie.
Gaglardi and Beedie claimed the trio had an agreement to work together in a partnership or joint venture and that Aquilini had a duty to them not to purchase the Canucks on his own behalf.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Wedge ruled the relationship between the three men wasn't a partnership, and even if it was at one time, that ended when Aquilini left the group nine months before he bought the team.
The ownership battle has already cost millions in legal fees and Gaglardi and Beedie will have to pay a little more because they have been ordered to pick up Aquilini's costs for their failed high court appeal.