Cambridge Life Solutions Accuses Doug Hoyes of Writing a Libelous Article

by J. Douglas Hoyes

On September 29, 2011 I posted the results of my detailed investigation of Cambridge Life Solutions, a company that advertises heavily on the radio, in an article titled Cambridge Life Solutions: Who Are They?

Cambridge Life Solutions - Letter to Doug Hoyes from Lawyer

On January 27, 2012 I received a fax from Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP (the letter is reproduced on the left; double click for a full size view). For those of you who are not familiar with Faskens, according to their website:

Fasken Martineau is one of the world’s leading international business law and litigation firms. With over 675 lawyers, the firm has offices in Canada, the United Kingdom, France and South Africa. Our practice includes every sector of business, industry and government.

Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever received a letter from a law firm that has 675 lawyers! The letter is written by Peter A. Downard, who, according to his profile on his firm’s website:

… is senior litigation counsel and principal Toronto contact for Fasken Martineau defamation matters. Peter has extensive experience as defamation counsel in litigation at trial, in the Court of Appeal for Ontario, and in the Supreme Court of Canada, as well as in numerous mediations and advisory matters. He is author of the legal text Libel (Second Edition, 2010; First Edition, 2003), referred to as an authority on libel law in numerous court decisions; sole author of the volume Defamation in Halsbury’s Laws of Canada (2009); and a Lexpert leading practitioner in defamation.

Wow again. I don’t think I’ve ever received a letter from a senior lawyer who has written textbooks and appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada!

It get’s better. Apparently this massive Bay Street law firm is accusing me of libel! Here’s the first paragraph of their letter to me:

We are counsel to Cambridge Life Solutions Inc. (“CSLI”). We have been consulted regarding an article libelous of CLSI entitled “Cambridge Life Solutions: Who Are They?” that you have published on the Internet at .

Wow. Apparently they are upset because in my article I alleged that Cambridge Life Solutions Inc. did not appear to have any staff in Ontario, or perhaps even in Canada. Why did I think that? Because on September 1, 2011 when one of my staff paid a visit to their Toronto office, at 1 Yonge Street, their name did not appear on the directory in the lobby, and when we asked the receptionist at the Execushare offices where they rent space she said “no, they aren’t here” without even needing to consult her schedule or make a phone call. When we asked if they would be back after lunch, again, she said no, they won’t be here. We therefore concluded that they weren’t there.

The lawyer was writing to advise me that in fact:

CLSI’s Vancouver and Toronto offices are both staffed by full-time employees during regular business hours. The lobby directory at 1 Yonge Street in Toronto in fact refers to CLSI’s offices in the building.

Interesting. When we took the picture on September 1, 2011 they weren’t on the directory. To check it out, we returned last week, and sure enough their name now does appear on the directory in the lobby. When we asked to meet with one of their employees (who are there during regular business hours) we were met by a very pleasant gentleman, Mr. Philip M. Allopenna, the Branch Manager, Ontario.

Obviously things have changed since my original post, so I have edited my original post to acknowledge that Cambridge Life Solutions does have an office, with their name on the directory, and they do have at least one full time employee.

I stand corrected.

I haven’t been able to find out much about Mr. Philip M. Allopenna, the Branch Manager, Ontario. I can’t find mention of him anywhere on the Cambridge Life Solutions website, which is strange; we have all of our senior people listed on our website. In fact, the only person’s name on their website is Alan Thicke, their spokesperson. (I wish I made enough money to be able to afford a famous actor as our spokesman. Oh well, I think it’s probably better that my partner Ted Michalos and I do all of our commercials ourselves. But I digress).

When I did a Google search for Mr. Philip M. Allopenna, all I can find is this LinkedIn page, which states that he is a “Results-driven entrepreneurial leader” based in Orange County, California.

Of course this might be a different Philip M. Allopenna, I’m not sure. This one is also the Co-Founder and President of GenerationEcho. Apparently is “a social platform that empowers people to connect and share their need, hardship or cause while locating and providing information, support and fundraising.” Sounds like a great organization. I’m impressed that he can run that company in California while also serving as the Branch Manager for Ontario for Cambridge Life Solutions.

But again I digress. Here’s my point:

I posted an article four months ago with information that was correct at that time (Cambridge Life Solutions’ name was not on the lobby directory). Since that time they have put their name on the directory, and they now have at least one employee. The information on my original post was therefore out of date, so I have updated it.

Here’s a question for you: if I wrote an article about you stating some facts, and those facts changed, what would you do? Would you call me or e-mail me and say “hey, Doug, the facts have changed, please update them?” Or would you go hire a huge Bay Street law firm with 675 lawyers to send me a letter, by fax and courier, accusing me of libel?

Apparently Cambridge Life Solutions prefers the “hire a lawyer from a big law firm” approach. Mr. Downard ends his letter by saying that if I don’t intend to remove the article from the Internet, “please have your legal counsel contact me directly.”

My legal counsel? I’m not some big firm that has enough money to hire Alan Thicke and Bay Street lawyers! I’m a bankruptcy trustee with an office in Cambridge, Ontario that started a firm a dozen years ago to help people with debt. I don’t have fancy “legal counsel” that can “contact him directly”. So, instead, I sent him an e-mail on February 2, 2012 that said:

Dear Mr. Downard:

I am in receipt of your fax dated January 27, 2012 regarding Cambridge Life Solutions Inc., and the article I wrote about them on my website. The facts that were stated in my article were accurate at the time of writing. Thank you for pointing out to me that the facts have changed. I have posted revisions to my original article to update the new facts.

I first became aware of Cambridge Life Solutions last summer, when a number of people in financial difficulty asked my firm to help them deal with their debts. These people advised me that they had heard the Cambridge Life Solutions ads on the radio, and they had hired Cambridge Life Solutions to deal with their debts. Unfortunately many of them did not fully understand the concept of “debt negotiation”. They followed the program and, after paying Cambridge Life Solutions initial fees, began saving money to make a debt settlement as suggested. Unfortunately many of them, after a few months in the program, realized that until they had saved up sufficient funds to propose the settlement, the creditors would continue calling, and in many cases commence legal action. For those people the Cambridge Life Solutions solution was not a solution at all. It simply lead to more stress, and money spent on fees that did not deal with the problem.

It was to provide a full explanation of the options to the Canadian public that lead me to write the article, and I believe it has helped many people understand all of their debt management options.

In the future, if your client believes that I am not aware of new facts, please advise them to simply pick up the phone, or send me an e-mail, and I would be happy to discuss their concerns.

As of today I have not received a response from the lawyer, but I suspect this is not the end to the story, so stay tuned.


Douglas Hoyes is the co-founder of Hoyes, Michalos & Associates Inc., Ontario's largest independent personal insolvency firm, and the trustee responsible for the Hoyes Michalos Cambridge office.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

sharon d October 29, 2014 at 11:20 am

I to was a victim of Cambridge life solution, after paying all that money , I felt cheated and they had an answer for everything. In the end I had to claim bankruptcy and with a company in Ottawa were I live.and still paying . if I could sue I would I felt ripedoff and more stress that I ever new them.scam that’s all it is

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