A recent case from Canada has highlighted the importance of always having in mind the primary purpose of the company or not-for-profit organisation when making decisions on its behalf.
Although the case is Canadian, it is nevertheless interesting. Its facts are as follows:
- Guy Laliberte is the founder of Cirque de Soleil.
- In 2009 he engaged a private space travel firm to take him on a 12 day trip to the International Space Station.
- The trip was paid for by a company in the Cirque de Soleil corporate group. It cost almost $42 million!
- Whilst he was in the space station he recited poetry, took photos, and filmed for a documentary and held a charity livestream, all intending to promote and support a charity, the Onedrop Foundation (founded by Laliberte and associated with Cirque de Soleil).
Was it a business expense?
No – the Court held that it was overwhelmingly a personal trip and not a business expense. The Court only allowed a small deduction on behalf of the business.
Although most people involved in a company or not-for-profit organisation are unlikely to be making decisions as to space travel, it is always important to keep in mind when making decisions – is it in the best interest of the company or organisation?
In this case, the answer was that it was fulfilling a long held personal dream of a shareholder of the company.
 Laliberte v Canada 2020 FCA 97