Tim Hortons, franchisee group close to settling 2 class action lawsuits

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Tim Hortons and an association representing some of its frustrated franchisees are close to reaching a settlement in two class-action lawsuits the group filed against the coffee chain.

A source familiar with the cases says the two sides submitted a signed term sheet to the judge Wednesday.

The three-page document, which comes after weeks of negotiations, is non-binding, but outlines the key points agreed to by both parties for a future settlement.

They will continue negotiating details and aim to bring an agreement to the judge on March 21 after which every Canadian franchisee will have four weeks to accept or reject the terms.

The judge will hold another hearing on April 26 when any dissenting franchisees will have their voices heard and make a final ruling on the settlement.

The lawsuits alleged Restaurant Brands International, the parent company of Tim Hortons, improperly used funds from a national advertising fund and subverted the franchisees’ right to associate. The claims have been denied by RBI and have not been proven in court.

The company has spent the last year working closely with its restaurant owners, said Alex Macedo, the chain’s president, in a statement.

“These lawsuits and previous public disagreements with some restaurant owners don’t reflect how positive our relationship is today and all the progress we have made together to focus on building the business,” he said.

“It became obvious to all of us that we need to put these lawsuits behind us and focus on what Canadians care about _ great coffee, great food and great support for our communities across Canada.”