Matthew R. Alter

Matthew R. Alter
Telephone: 416 860 6764
Fax: 416 640 3083

Suite 2100, Scotia Plaza
40 King Street West
Toronto, ON M5H 3C2

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"A first-rate litigator and astute advisor."
- Client Testimonial, Who's Who Legal

Matthew Alter* is the head of the Construction Group at Cassels Brock and a partner in the Firm’s Advocacy, Infrastructure, Land Development, and Mining Groups. His practice focuses on representing public and private owners and developers, general contractors, and other construction industry participants in all aspects of construction and procurement. He advises clients on project delivery methods and procurement processes, and drafts and negotiates various agreements for construction and infrastructure projects and related acquisitions, including Private Public Partnership arrangements. Matthew also represents participants in all types of contract and project disputes and litigation, including: tendering claims and defences, contractor defaults, interference and delay claims, liens, trust claims, insolvency claims, and surety bond claims.

Matthew is the immediate past President of the Canadian College of Construction Lawyers and is recognized internationally as a top construction and procurement lawyer by the Lexpert/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada, the Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory, Euromoney’s Legal Media Group Guide: Best of the Best Expert Guide, Who’s Who Legal: Canada, Chambers Canada, The Legal 500 Canada, and The Best Lawyers in Canada. He has also been included in the Lexpert Special Editions on Canada’s Leading Infrastructure Lawyers (2012–2018), Leading Lawyers in Global Mining (2014–2017), and Leading US/Canada Cross-Border Lawyers (2018-2019), and was featured on the cover of Lexpert magazine’s April 2011 edition on “Procurement Pros.” Matthew was named the 2015 and 2018 “Lawyer of the Year” for Public Procurement Law by Best Lawyers in Canada for Toronto — only a single lawyer for each practice area in any given city is selected for this award.

Matthew is certified as a Specialist in Construction Law by the Law Society of Ontario and holds an AV Preeminent™ Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell.

Publications, Conferences and Speaking Engagements

Select Recent Publications

  • Construction and Projects in Canada, Q&A Overview, Co-author (Thomson Reuters for Practical Law, March 2019)
  • Looking Through Different Lenses: Tactical and Technical Concerns When Representing the Owner or the Contractor, Author (Journal of the Canadian College of Construction Lawyers, 2019)
  • Journal of the Canadian College of Construction Lawyers, Editor (Thomson/Carswell, 20122015
  • Kirsh and Alter: A Guide to Construction Liens in Ontario, 3rd Edition, (LexisNexis, September 2011)
  • Ontario's BPS Procurement Directive, Summit, Co-author (December 2011/January 2012)
  • The Evolution of Construction Lien Legislation in Ontario from 1873–2011, The Advocates' Quarterly, Co-Author (May 2011)
  • Securing Payment and Performance on International Projects, Co-author, Chapter 9 of American Bar Association book, International Construction Law — A Guide for Cross-Border Transactions and Legal Disputes (October 2009)
  • International Arbitration Rules and Procedures, Co-author, Chapter No. 61 of American Bar Association book, Construction Checklists — A Guide to Frequently Encountered Construction Issues (2008)

Select Recent Seminars and Presentations

  • Chair: The Modern Construction Law Landscape, 22nd Annual Meeting of the Canadian College of Construction Lawyers, Niagara-on-the-Lake (May 2019)
  • Speaker: Implications of Prompt Payment for Construction, 2019 Construction Adjudication Symposium, Toronto (May 2019)
  • Speaker: Looking Through Different Lenses: Tactical and Technical Concerns When Representing the Owner or the Contractor, ABA Forum on Construction Law 2019 Fall Meeting, Montreal (October 2018)
  • Speaker: Practical Considerations: The Ultimate Payee's Perspective, Osgoode Professional Development (April 2018)
  • Speaker: Pre-litigation Claim Management, Construction & Infrastructure Litigation 201 presented by the OBA's Institute (February 2018)
  • Program Coordinator: Annual Conference of the Canadian College of Construction Lawyers, Washington, D.C. (May 2015)
  • Speaker: The Tender Trap: Understanding the Risks and Avoiding Claims, International Municipal Lawyers Association in Canada (April 2015)
  • Lecturer/Faculty: Bidding and Tendering: Advanced Issues, Osgoode Certificate in Construction Law Program (November 2011-2014)
  • Co-Chair: Capital Projects: P3s, Design-Build, and Beyond, ABA Forum on the Construction Industry's 2013 Fall Meeting presented by the American Bar Association (September 2013)
  • Lecturer/Faculty: A-Z Guide to EPCM Contract Management: Exploring Critical Issues Throughout the Project Management Lifecycle, EPCM for Mining Energy and Infrastructure presented by The Canadian Institute  (June 2013)
  • Speaker: Strategies Used for Construction Tender/Procurement Claims, The 10-Minute Construction Lawyer program presented by The Advocates' Society (May 2013)
  • Lecturer/Faculty: P3s/Contracts/Bidding & Tendering, Osgoode Certificate in Construction Law program (November 2012)
  • Lecturer/Faculty: "Construction Liens," lecture to 4th year Students of George Brown College’s Schools of Construction Management and Trades and Architectural Studies (November 2012)
  • Speaker: Hospital Projects and the Ontario Construction Lien Act, Ontario Hospital Association sponsored conference on Health Care Capital Planning and Implementation: Enabling Excellent Care for All (June 2012)
  • Speaker: Recent Amendments to the Ontario Construction Lien Act and Ontario’s BPS Procurement Directive, The Property Management Exposition & Conference, “Legal Roundtable For Building Owners & Property Managers: Eight Issues in Sixty-Five Minutes” (November 2011)
  • Moderator: Construction Project Opportunities Abroad: The Things You Don't Know You Don't Know, ABA Forum on the Construction Industry Fall Conference (October 2011, Atlanta)
  • Course Leader and Speaker: Tendering and Procurement: Navigating the Maze, Lexpert Program (June 2011, Calgary)
  • Chair: Module 2: Following the Project Funds, Canadian College of Construction Lawyers 2011 Conference, "Emerging Legal Issues – Moving the Yardsticks" (June 2011, Ottawa)
  • Speaker: The Proposed New Amendments to the Construction Lien Act and the Lienability of Equipment Supply, Law Society of Upper Canada CLE Program, “Practice Gems: Construction Lien Essentials 2011”(March 2011, Toronto)
  • Speaker: Hospital Procurement and Ontario 's Supply Chain Guideline, Conference for Board Finance Committee Members, Ontario Hospital Association (April 2010, Toronto)
  • Speaker: Making a Strong Start with an Effective Tendering Process, Canadian Institute Conference "Essential Elements and Critical Updates of Key Business Agreements" (February 2010, Toronto)
  • Speaker: Recent Developments in Liens and Trusts, LSUC CLE Program "Advanced Roundtable in Construction Law 2009" (September 2009, Toronto)
  • Speaker: Risk Management for International Construction Projects: What You Need to Know Before Contracting Across National Borders, ABA Forum on the Construction Industry and the Construction Litigation Committee of the ABA Section of Litigation, Midwinter Meeting, "Coverages, Disputes and Tactics for Survival: Critical Insurance and Litigation Issues and Insights" (January 2009, Florida)

Client Commentary

  • “Observers report that ‘he is very well-versed in the law,’ with one client stating ‘I like the practical nature of his approach.” – Chambers Canada (Construction)
  • “A first-rate litigator and astute advisor. He provides a brilliant advisory service to clients and is also adept at handling complex disputes.”– Who’s Who Legal (Construction)
  • “He is extremely thoughtful and evaluates the entire picture. He certainly watches out for our interests and makes sure we don’t miss anything.”– Chambers Global (Construction)
  • “His knowledge base is his strength; he is very experienced and knows what he is doing.”– Chambers Canada (Construction)
  • “Matthew Alter is a fine lawyer. He is experienced, bright and possesses a keen knowledge of complex construction law issues. In addition, he provides timely and practical legal advice.” – Best Lawyers in Canada (Construction/Public Procurement)
  • “Matthew Alter is one of the top lawyers that I have worked with in my professional career. He is a true expert in construction law, and has the unique ability of being able to simplify difficult concepts, and then recommend suitable solutions.” – Best Lawyers in Canada (Construction/Public Procurement)
  • "He can present a difficult subject that people aren't familiar with in layman's terms, so that we have a good understanding from both a construction perspective and a legal one." – Chambers Canada (Construction)
  • "The 'excellent' Matthew Alter is a contractual specialist with considerable expertise in contract drafting, negotiation and contract-related disputes work." – Who's Who Legal: Canada (Construction)
  • “Clients highlight his ‘thoroughness, timeliness and common sense.’” – Chambers Canada (Construction)

*denotes Professional Corporation


University of Windsor, LL.B., 1985

University of Toronto, B.A. (Hons), 1982

Recent Work

Publications, Newsletters and Articles

Ontario’s Construction Act: Update on Substantive Amendments

Ontario’s Construction Act: The Construction Industry’s New Reality

Recommended Changes to Ontario's Construction Lien Act: Work in Progress

Conferences, Speaking Engagements, Events

Matthew Alter Chairing the Annual Meeting of the Canadian College of Construction Lawyers

Matthew Alter Discusses Implications of Prompt Payment at the 2019 Construction Adjudication Symposium

Matthew Alter Presents "Adjudication of Construction Projects and Public Works in Canada" in Buenos Aires

Matthew Alter Presenting "Practical Considerations: The Ultimate Payee's Perspective"

Matthew Alter Speaking on "Pre-litigation Claim Management"

Call to the bar

Ontario, 1987


  • Canadian Bar Association
  • Canadian College of Construction Lawyers — Immediate Past President
  • American Bar Association — Past Chair, International Construction Division of the Forum on Construction Law (2011–2013)
  • Law Society of Ontario — Past Chair, Construction Law Specialty Committee (2006–2007)
  • Ontario Bar Association — Past Chair, Construction Law Section (2004–2005) and Former Editor “Nuts & Bolts” Newsletter (1994–2000)
  • Past Executive Member, National Construction Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association
  • Toronto Construction Association — Past Member of The Construction Institute Professional Development Committee (1996–2008)
  • Member, Toronto Lawyers Association (TLA)


  • Certified as a Specialist in Construction Law by the Law Society of Ontario
  • The Legal 500 Canada 2015–2016 (Public Procurement)
  • Euromoney's Legal Media Group Guide: Best of the Best Expert Guide 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018 (Global, Construction)
  • Euromoney's Legal Media Group Expert Guide 2019 (Construction & Real Estate)
  • The Best Lawyers in Canada 2012–2020 (Construction Law; Public Procurement Law)
  • The Best Lawyers in Canada: Lawyer of the Year 2015 & 2018 (Public Procurement Law – Toronto)
  • Chambers Canada 2016–2020 (Construction)
  • Chambers Global 2014 and 2015 (Construction)
  • Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory 2010–2019 (Construction Law)
  • Martindale-Hubbell, AV Preeminent™ Peer Review Rating
  • Who's Who Legal: Canada 2010–2018 (Construction and Public Procurement) 
  • Who's Who Legal: Thought Leaders 2019 (Construction)
  • 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 Lexpert/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada (Construction Law)
  • 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 Lexpert Special Edition: Canada's Leading Infrastructure Lawyers
  • 2014, 2015, 2106 and 2017 Lexpert Special Edition: Canada's Leading Lawyers in Global Mining
  • 2018, 2019 Lexpert Guide to US/Canada Cross-Border Lawyers in Canada (Construction)
  • Featured on the cover of Lexpert magazine's April 2011 edition on "Procurement Pros"



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