Catriona Otto-Johnston LL.B., Partner

Catriona practices primarily in the areas of construction law with a focus on resolving complex construction disputes, as well as assisting clients with contract drafting and other front-end project matters. She represents clients throughout Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and the U.S. in a broad range of litigation matters before courts and arbitration panels, including builders’ liens, cost overruns, deficiencies, delay and impact claims, scope of work disputes and debt recovery. Catriona is highly experienced in document-intensive litigation and e-Discovery.

Catriona has earned a strong reputation as a go-to lawyer for 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 at arbitration.

Professional Affiliations

Member of the Law Society of Alberta

Member of the Executive of the Construction Law Section, Canadian Bar Association

Member of the Calgary Bar Association

Construction Lawyers Society of America, Associate Fellow

Representative Work

  • Obtained an Order enforcing foreign Letters Rogatory allowing for the deposition of a non-party in a US litigation.
  • Represented an international EPC contractor in a multi-party dispute involving construction of a large-scale electrical transmission and distribution project.
  • Represented a condominium board with respect to litigation arising from the rebuild of a development destroyed by a natural disaster.
  • Obtained an Order preventing trespass onto a construction site by persons not authorized to enter.
  • Successfully applied for an Order approving a plan of arrangement under the Condominium Property Act to fund a development using alternative financing.
  • 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


  • Panel presenter at The Advocates' Society Builders' Lien Bootcamp, Builders' Lien Applications: What You Need to Know, October 2019
  • Co-Guest Lecturer: Arbitration and Dispute Resolution, University of Calgary, College of Law, Energy Transportation and Infrastructure, April 2019
  • Panel presenter at the Canadian Bar Association, Builders' Liens for Junior Lawyers", September 2019
  • Panel presenter at The Advocates' Society Construction Law Program, Section 48 Template Orders and Courtroom Etiquette, November 2018

Publications and Articles

  • Co-Author, “Arbitration Provisions in Construction Contracts”, the Canadian College of Construction Lawyers’ Construction Contracts Deskbook, 2018/2019
  • Complex Facts & Contested Evidence: No Longer a Hurdle for Summary Judgment? Construction Law Letter, Volume 33 Number 5 May/June 2017
  • Complex Facts & Contested Evidence: No Longer a Hurdle for Summary Judgment? The Constructor, 2018. [This article was originally published by the Construction Law Letter]

Blog Publications

  • Co-Author, What's Old is New Again – Municipal Reserve Lands in Alberta Cannot be Liened, May 27, 2019
  • Show me the Money! Timing the Release of Holdback, February 8, 2019
  • Bet Your Bottom Dollar – Orphans No More!, January 31, 2019
  • Tick-Tock Goes the Lien Clock, January 25, 2019
  • Keeping Your Hands Lien: Don't Forget a CLP!, July 16, 2018
  • Extra! Extra! How do Subcontractor Change Orders Affect the Lien Fund? It Depends, June 22, 2018
  • A Reference to Deference – The Court Weighs in on a Consultant's Findings, April 2, 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.
  • When Calculating Lien Periods, it's Convenient to be Prevenient, February 21, 2018
  • Mitigate Before you Litigate: Recovering Damages for Renovations Gone Wrong, February 21, 2018
  • Unilaterally amending payment terms by conduct along…Nice try!, December 12, 2017
  • Time is Tickin' – Limitation Periods and Your Lien, September 20, 2017
  • Tips & Traps – Partial Payment from the 10% Holdback, August 24, 2017
  • Things Left Unsaid – Determining Price Adjustment resulting from Scope Changes, July 24, 2017
  • "A rose by any other name? Not so!": The critical role of "improvement" in the Builders' Lien Act" July 24, 2017
  • Estimates: How Important Are They Really?, July 24, 2017
  • Summary Judgment: Shortcut to Payment?, July 24, 2017
  • Mistakes and Builders' Liens: Fixable or Fatal?, July 24, 2017
  • The Best Lawyers™ in Canada, Construction Law, 2020
  • "Future Star", Benchmark Canada, 2017 - 2019

Community Involvement

  • Co-chair of the Canadian Bar Association, Construction Law Section, 2019/2020
  • Member of the Executive of the Canadian Bar Association, Construction Law Section, 2014 to present
  • Former volunteer at Calgary Legal Guidance monthly legal clinic
  • Former volunteer at Calgary Legal Guidance quarterly "ID Clinics"

Contact Information

403 776 0539

Areas of Expertise

Construction | Infrastructure

Litigation & Dispute Resolution

Year of Call

2009 (Alberta)


University of Calgary, Juris Doctor, 2008

University of Calgary, B.A., 2005