Catriona Otto-Johnston
Catriona Otto-Johnston
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Catriona Otto-Johnston is a litigator who focuses her practice primarily on resolving complex construction disputes. She represents clients from Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and the U.S. in a broad range of litigation matters before courts and arbitration panels, including builders’ liens, delay and impact claims, scope of work disputes, wrongful termination, real estate disputes, commercial property damage and debt recovery. Catriona is highly experienced in document-intensive litigation and e-Discovery. Catriona also defends lawyers and other professionals in litigation involving allegations of professional negligence, malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty.

Catriona has earned a strong reputation as a go-to lawyer for property owners, general contractors, subcontractors and suppliers in construction disputes, particularly in matters involving builders’ liens. She goes above and beyond to preserve her clients’ rights and maximize the chances of securing payment, including closely monitoring the construction economy’s impact on project funding, tracking strict lien filing deadlines and ensuring each technical requirement is satisfied. While Catriona has vast experience protecting her clients’ rights in the courtroom, she also excels at identifying alternative, cost-effective ways to resolve disputes without the time and risk of prolonged litigation.

Catriona has extensive experience working with technical experts to assist her clients in reaching a resolution. She understands the value an effective and knowledgeable lawyer and staff team bring to document-intensive files, and her e-Discovery experience saves time and money for her clients. She has represented her clients before all levels of Court in Alberta and has vast arbitration experience.

Value to Clients

"I am invested in helping my clients grow and protect their businesses and always willing to go the extra mile to learn what makes them tick and what they value most. This helps clients open up to me, particularly when a dispute becomes highly emotional and stressful. I also dig deep into the background of every case. When the underlying subject matter is new to me, I learn everything about it. Whenever possible, I visit my clients’ work sites to get a hands-on feel for what they’re going through, as opposed to presenting technical abstractions that other lawyers in the room have never seen in real life. This practical approach is what sets me apart.”

Outside the Office

Catriona sings in a five-piece band, performing at coffee shops, legal conferences and other small venues. Catriona also sings in various iterations of the Field Law Band, whether it be during Stampede, at the client holiday event or in local legal band competitions. She rides horses with a view to soon returning to the show jumping ring. When she's not singing or riding, Catriona enjoys running, reading and traveling.

Canadian Bar Association Alberta, Construction Law Section (South)
Member of the Executive
Canadian Bar Association Alberta, Civil Litigation Section (South)
Calgary Bar Association
Construction Lawyers Society of America
Associate Fellow
"Future Star"
Benchmark Canada
2017 - 2019
Justice Morrow Bursary in Law
Grant McKibben Award
Faculty of Law Award
Piikani Nation v. Kostic, 2017 ABCA 399
Bumstead v Dufresne, 2017 ABCA 122
Sprague Rosser Contracting Co Ltd. v. EOS Pipeline & Facilities Inc., 2016 ABQB 231, Alberta Court of Queen's Bench
Hammoud v. Chadi, 2014 ABQB 789, Alberta Court of Queen's Bench
Leishman v. Virostek, 2011 ABQB 488, Alberta Court of Queen's Bench
February 2019
Show me the Money! Timing the Release of Holdback
Field Law Blog
January 2019
Tick-Tock Goes the Lien Clock
Field Law Blog
July 2018
Keeping Your Hands Lien: Don’t Forget a CLP!
Field Law Blog
June 2018
Extra! Extra! How Do Subcontractor Change Orders Affect the Lien Fund? It Depends…
Field Law Blog
May 22, 2018
Definitive deference: How courts treat consultants’ decisions
The Lawyer's Daily
This article was originally published by The Lawyer’s Daily (, part of LexisNexis Canada Inc.
April 2018
A Reference to Deference – The Court Weighs in on a Consultant’s Findings
Field Law Blog
February 2018
When Calculating Lien Periods, it’s Convenient to be Prevenient
Field Law Blog
February 2018
Mitigate Before you Litigate: Recovering Damages for Renovations Gone Wrong
Field Law Blog
December 2017
Unilaterally amending payment terms by conduct alone…Nice try!
September 2017
Time is Tickin’ — Limitation Periods and Your Lien
August 2017
Tips & Traps – Partial Payment from the 10% Holdback
July 2017
“A rose by any other name? Not so!”: The critical role of “improvement” in the Builders’ Lien Act
July 2017
Mistakes and Builders’ Liens: Fixable or Fatal?
July 2017
Things Left Unsaid – Determining Price Adjustment resulting from Scope Changes
July 2017
Estimates: How Important Are They Really?
July 2017
Summary Judgment: Shortcut to Payment?
May & June 2017
Complex Facts & Contested Evidence: No Longer a Hurdle for Summary Judgment?
June 2013
Issue Estoppel: How to Stop the City From Later Denying Something Previously Permitted
The 2012 Alberta Court of Appeal decision of Siota v. Edmonton (City) may be of some interest in terms of the doctrine of issue estoppel. Specifically, it precludes the City from denying a development permit. In Siota, a business owner (the appell...
August 2011
Summary Judgment and the "CAP" - A New Decision Regarding the Minor Injury Regulation
September 2010
Rules Remix (Insurance)
September 2010
Rules Remix (Litigation)
  • Secured a favourable settlement on behalf of a construction company by pursuing a delay and impact claim in a strategically fast-paced arbitration in which we alleged that the client’s inability to perform its work as originally bid was caused by failures and delays by other parties 
  • Obtained summary judgment on behalf of a pipeline project contractor that was forced to register builders’ liens against the owner despite clear evidence that the work was performed per the contract’s terms; judgment affirmed on appeal
  • Secured an early, favourable settlement for a subcontractor who registered a builders’ lien on a large project involving multiple other lien claimants with claims totaling more than $12M, thereby avoiding the cost and time that would have been involved had our client participated in the overall litigation
  • Secured a settlement for a subcontractor who registered a builders’ lien for non-payment of its invoices, thereby avoiding involvement in what would have been a protracted litigation with uncertain ability to collect on any judgment we would have received
  • Obtained an emergency pre-judgment attachment order for a subcontractor client who performed work on and supplied materials to a project, but had not received any payment, and the prime contractor had been terminated
  • Obtained a discontinuance of action on the first day of trial, part-way through the Plaintiff giving evidence, based on objections regarding admissibility of evidence
  • Secured judgment arising from a successful multi-day arbitration of a complex dispute involving commercial and construction aspects
  • Secured a favourable settlement for a client on a complex delay claim involving wrongful termination and a counterclaim for damages against our client
University of Calgary, 2008, Juris Doctor
University of Calgary, 2005, Bachelor of Arts