Heather L. Acton


Heather practices construction and commercial litigation, with an emphasis on construction defect claims, Construction Lien Act claims, tender disputes, delay claims and contract review. She provides counsel to owners, contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, bonding companies, architects, and engineers. Heather also defends the interests of consultants in professional negligence claims. She is recognized by Best Lawyers in Canada for construction law.

She graduated from Carleton University in 1989, received her Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Ottawa in 1992 and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1994.

Representative Work

  • Represented consulting engineers who were hired by the plaintiff to conduct an environmental assessment on the plaintiff’s property. In an attempt to discredit the plaintiff’s expert witnesses, the defendant made a third-party claim against the consulting engineers. Successfully argued to strike out the third-party claim on the basis that there was no duty of care owed by the engineers to the defendant, the third-party claim was an abuse of process, and the engineers were protected by witness immunity.
  • Co-counsel with P. Donald Rasmussen at trial and on appeal for the successful plaintiff in an action for damages for deficiencies in the construction of the block back-up wall of a seven-storey condominium building.
  • Co-counsel with P. Donald Rasmussen for a ready-mix concrete supplier in a 150-day trial and ensuing appeals to the Supreme Court of Canada, related to multimillion dollar damage claims for defective house foundations. Significant insurance coverage issues were raised, involving five primary and excess insurers.

Professional Affiliations

  • Canadian Bar Association
  • Ontario Bar Association
  • Law Society of Ontario
  • County of Carleton Law Association


  • Guest speaker at Ottawa Construction Association seminars
  • Guest speaker on document management and e-Discovery issues at Ontario Bar Association Continuing Legal Education Courses
  • Guest lecturer, University of Ottawa, Faculty of Common Law, Trial Advocacy Course
  • “Tender Secrets” (analysis of case-law surrounding tender disputes), P. Donald Rasmussen and Heather L. Acton, November 2006

Community Involvement

  • United Way Leadership Donor

When she’s not in the office

Heather is an avid cottager.  Between home improvement projects, she’s working on her golf game and enjoys experimenting with new recipes.

I have referred several people to Melody MacDonell over the years. She is extremely knowledgeable, professional and efficient. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend anyone at Rasmussen Starr Ruddy.

— Dawna Christy

A big thank you to Melody and her staff. Melody is straight forward and knows her stuff. Although going through a separation is hard, I was very confident things would work out in my favor. And they did. Looking forward to the next new chapter to begin. Thanks again Melody.

— Kristina Dowsley

I don’t know what I would have done without them. You may not remember every word they say, but you’ll never forget how they make you feel.

— Judy Everson

Their personal skills are great: they’re very easy to deal with. I question a lot and they’re very accommodating.

— Donna Lea Andrews, Andrews Brothers Construction (Ottawa) Ltd.

I like the fact that I can pick up the phone and talk to my lawyer, not an assistant. Other firms are getting too big to provide personal service.

— Ken Crawford, C&M Electric

They have a clear understanding of our business and are very responsive. The partners are well respected among their peers.

— Jonathan Westeinde, Windmill Developments

They’re prompt, intelligent, give good advice, and charge reasonable rates.

— Stan Neathery, Integrating Solutions Inc.