Kristopher H. Knutsen

Kristopher H. Knutsen, BA, LL.B, QC

Kristopher H. Knutsen, BA, LL.B, QC


Trial Counsel (Retired)

For over 40 years, Kris was a trial lawyer in Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario. He initially commenced his career in criminal defence and family law, then transitioned to construction law and then to personal injury and insurance matters. Since 1990, Kris was certified as a Specialist by the Law Society.

Kris built his practice on referrals from other lawyers and former clients. He has appeared in all trial courts in Ontario, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada. Several of his cases have been landmark, some changing the law in the Province and Canada. He has tried and prosecuted over 300 cases and legal matters. He has appeared before many Tribunals and handled over 20 major inquests, several involving mining fatalities. Kris represented claimants in the long running Nakina fire inquest where, tragically, the lives of four junior rangers were lost in an MNR deliberately set prescribed forest burn.

A former pilot, Kris was counsel to the victims group in the challenging Dryden Air Inquiry, following the crash of an Air Ontario jet that resulted in several deaths and injuries. This federal inquiry lasted over two years with televised hearings addressing air safety in Canada. Recommendations made impacted air safety both nationally, and internationally.

Selected Awards and Achievements

  • 1990 – Specialist certification by the Law Society in Civil Litigation, renewed to date
  • Advocates Society Director (Past)
  • 1998 – Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers
  • Discovery Reform Task Force Member, 2001 to 2003
  • Provincial Rules Committee Member (3 terms)
  • 2003 – Bruce T. Hillyer Award by the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association
  • 2005 – Thunder Bay Law Association Service Award
  • 2008 – Advocates’ Society Medal
  • Civil Justice Reform (Osborne), Project Advisor, 2010
  • 2010 – Award of Excellence in Insurance Law – Ontario Bar Association
  • 2012 – Ontario Trial Lawyers Association Celebration of the Personal Injury Bar Award

Selected Cases/Matters

  • Meyer v. Bright – Trial / Court of Appeal / leave Application to Supreme Court of Canada, on behalf of a Plaintiff (1994). This case set a precedent, still relevant today, as to when automobile accident victims can recover in Ontario for their injuries.
  • Scott v. Continental (Morton v. Rabito) – Trial / Court of Appeal / leave Application to Supreme Court of Canada (1998). This decision set precedent for what should be classed as automobile for victim recovery under the law.
  • Derksen v. Roys – Trial / Court of Appeal / Supreme Court of Canada (2002) where 4 Canadian Courts of Appeal, were effectively overruled and recovery successful. The case set national precedent about accident cause. Research counsel, Erik S. Knutsen.
  • R.E. V. Prystay – Trial / Court of Appeal / leave Application to Supreme Court of Canada (2007). This case addressed when victims can recover under insurance policies for injuries resulting from criminal acts. Co-counsel, Professor Erik S. Knutsen.


  • B.A. LL.B. – 1970
  • Called to the Bar of Ontario, 1972
  • Appointed Queen’s Counsel, 1984
  • Certified Specialist Civil Litigation, 1990, re-certified to date
  • Harvard University Mediation Course, 1995
  • Advanced Mediation Training Course, 1996